Traveling to Canada From the US

There are many reasons why a person would want to travel from America to Canada, and now more than ever. Maybe simply to visit family. Maybe in an attempt to enjoy a holiday abroad without flying. And with Covid-19 persisting all over the world causing extensions of lockdowns and restrictions, traveling from the US to Canada is the best chance many Americans have at enjoying a holiday abroad without fear of being stuck in a country that doesn’t speak English.

Of course, it’s true, America has every climate, luxury, and adventure a budding traveler could hope for, but nothing quite beats the excitement of leaving your own country and experiencing somewhere new. This is where Canada comes in. 

Traveling to Canada From the US

However, because the US and Canada share a land border, and because you can fly internally in the US without a passport, it is often unclear as to what the regulations are in crossing the border traveling into Canada from America.

Do you need a passport? Do you need a specific visa? How long can you stay? All of these questions and more will be answered in the following article, so that you can travel from the US to Canada with confidence you have the correct documents, and will gain entry without any issues.

What is a Visa?

Before explaining the specifics of traveling from America to Canada, it’s important to make clear what is meant by some of this terminology. So what is a visa? A visa is simply an officially approved document authorized by a government to foreign citizens that apply to visit their country. The rules and regulations for visas are decided by the government that is authorizing the visa, and because of this, they vary a lot between different countries. 

What a visa allows you to do whilst in a country, how long you can stay, and how many times you can enter the country, depend on what type of visa you apply for. Some examples of types of visas are a tourist visa (for someone visiting for a short holiday), a transit visa (for someone just passing through on their way to another country), and a work visa (for someone who is hoping to find work). 

Common rules on obtaining visas include: having a certain amount of time left on your passport, having a place of residence, a job secured, or enough money.

As well as, visa applications require a photo, and the size and dimensions for these vary greatly depending on which country you are applying for. This can be difficult to get right, and if the photo on your application does not meet the necessary regulations, it can easily lead to your application being rejected.

Do Americans need a Visa to Travel to Canada?

The short answer for this is no. If you are reading this article in the hope of going away for a few weeks then a visa is not necessary for you. This is because certain countries allow other countries’ citizens to travel freely through borders with no visas because they are friends in a sense. Like you would serve your friend at a bar without asking for their ID because you know each other, and know they won’t cause any trouble. In a similar sense, America and Canada are friends, and as such, do not need any further documentation other than confirmation you are an American through your passport. This is a very good thing as often the process of applying and being authorized a visa can be very long and tedious. However, this only applies for stays under 180 days. 

What are the Obligations when Travelling to Canada?

All that is needed when traveling to Canada from the US is a valid passport on the date of entry. If you plan on traveling to Europe from Canada, then your passport must have a validity of at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. The Schengen area is simply an area of European countries that have abolished passport and border control at their mutual borders. For this article, however, we will focus simply on what you need to travel from the US to Canada. A passport is necessary every time. And, as explained before, you do not need a visa when traveling to Canada as long as you are staying for less than 180 days, which is essentially 6 months.  

How to Obtain a Passport?

A passport is a must-have whenever you want to travel to a different country. America being such a large place, with such a variety of cultures and experiences, it can often be the case American people do not leave the US, and so never bother getting a passport. But it is necessary to get one in order to travel to Canada. The process is simple enough, you must apply in person, at a passport acceptance facility, using a DS-11 form which can be downloaded from the American government website. Fill in this form and visit a passport acceptance facility near you, these will be in all major cities. 

In the form, you must include a US passport standard size photo which is 2×2 inches. This photo must also comply with many regulations to do with the background, color, lighting, size, etc. all of which must be correct to avoid your application being rejected.

To take this photo visit Passport Photo Online. Here you are able to simply take a photo with your mobile phone and upload it to the photo tool which will edit your photo to be suitable for the passport application. The photo tool does all the work for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything! 

In the US, the whole process of getting a passport approved takes on average about 18 weeks, so it is worth doing it as soon as possible if you plan on traveling to Canada any time soon, and do not already have a passport.

How can you Extend your Stay in Canada?

As stated before, you are able to visit Canada for up to 180 days. This clock of roughly 6 months starts when you first enter Canada no matter how you traveled there. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply for an extension. This application must be completed at least 30 days before your six-month period is complete. It is not guaranteed that you will be granted the visa you are applying for, as there are many variables that impact whether the government authorizes the visa, such as the purpose of your visit, or if you have any relations living in Canada. Canada’s immigration administration provides a simple web q&a to answer queries about extending a stay. Complete this to see if you qualify for an extension and what steps you need to take to receive one.

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