Canada Traveler Information - Travel Advice
Travel Advice with a Travel Advisory overview from the US State Department. Here we cover Visa, Safety & Security, local Laws and Insurance in our Canada Traveler Information guide.
At AardvarkCompare we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following Canada Traveler Information should help you make the most of your trip to Canada.
Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.
PASSPORT VALIDITY: Valid at time of entry. If you are transiting Canada en route to Europe, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES: One page required.
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED: Not required for stays under 180 days.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY: None.
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT: None.
Embassies and Consulates
490 Sussex Drive
Ontario, K1N 1G8
Telephone: +(613) 688-5335
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(613) 238-5335
Fax: +(613) 688-3082
The Ottawa consular district includes the counties of Kingston, Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Refrew, Russell, and Stormont in Eastern Ontario, and those parts of the Québec regions of Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue near Ottawa.
U.S. Consulate General Montreal
1155 rue St. Alexandre
Montréal, Quebec H3B 3Z1
Telephone: + (514) 398-9695
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(514) 981-5059
Fax: +(514) 398-9748
The Montreal consular district includes Greater Montreal and the regions of Southern Quebec Province (Laurentides, Lanaudiere, Laval, Montreal, Montregie, Estrie, and the southern parts of Centre-du-Quebec), including Joliete, Drummondville, and Sherbrooke.
U.S. Consulate General Toronto
360 University Ave
Toronto, Ontario M5G 1S4
Telephone: +(416) 595-1700
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(416) 595-6506
Fax: +(416) 595-5466
The consular district includes the province of Ontario except for the counties of Kingston, Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Refrew, Russell, and Stormont, which are served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
U.S. Consulate General Vancouver
1075 West Pender Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Telephone: +(604) 685-4311
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(604) 685-4311
Fax: +(604) 685-7175
The consular district includes British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
U.S. Consulate General Halifax
Purdy's Wharf Tower II
1969 Upper Water Street, Suite 904
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3R7
Telephone: +(902) 429-2480
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(902) 429-2480
Fax: +(902) 423-6861
The Halifax consular district includes New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
U.S. Consulate Winnipeg
201 Portage Avenue, Suite 860
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 3K6
Telephone: +(204) 940-1800
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 403-266-8962 and press "0" for assistance (Consulate General Calgary)
Fax: +(204) 940-1809
The Consulate in Winnipeg provides only emergency services for U.S. citizens. Routine services such as visas, passports and notarials are handled at other U.S. Consulates General, primarily Calgary.
U.S. Consulate General Quebec
2, rue de la Terrasse Dufferin
(Vieux Quebec, behind Chateau Frontenac)
Quebec, Quebec G1R 4T9
Telephone: +(418) 692-2095
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(418) 692-2096
Fax: +(418) 692-4640
The consular district includes Quebec City and those regions of Quebec Province to the North and East of the Montreal and Ottawa Districts (indicated above), plus the Territory of Nunavut.
U.S. Consulate General Calgary
615 Macleod Trail S.E.,
Calgary, Alberta, T2G 4T8
Telephone: +(403) 266-8962
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(403) 266-8962 then press '0'
Fax: +(403) 263-2241
The consular district includes Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, excluding Nunavut.
See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Canada for additional information on U.S.-Canada relations.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
For tourist visits to Canada of less than 180 days, U.S. citizens do not need visas. Other types of travel (e.g., to work, study, or immigrate) generally requires visas. For complete information on visa categories and requirements, consult the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.
Anyone with a criminal record (including misdemeanors or alcohol-related driving offenses) may not be able to enter Canada without first obtaining an “approval for rehabilitation” well in advance of any planned travel. To determine whether you may be inadmissible and how to overcome this finding, please refer to the CIC website.
Entry into Canada is solely determined by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials in accordance with Canadian law. Please see the CBSA’s website for full details.
Travel Programs: Both the U.S. and Canadian governments urge frequent travelers to join the NEXUS trusted traveler program.
Entry into Canada: Generally children under the age of 16 traveling by land only need to present proof of U.S. citizenship (usually a birth certificate). The Canadian government and immigration officials at Canadian ports of entry (to include land, air and international borders that cross shared bodies of water) have sole discretion who to admit into Canada and what citizenship documents they require regardless of age or means of travel.
Please closely review information provided on WHTI about required documentation, and check with your travel provider if you have any specific requirements they may have for travel into or out of Canada. Please refer to the Canadian Border Service’s website for further information about Canadian government requirements to enter Canada.
Entry into the United States: When traveling by air from Canada, U.S. citizens are required by U.S. law to present a U.S. passport book. A few exceptions to this rule exist and a full list of documents that can be used at land and sea borders are provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.
Travel with Minors: Generally children under the age of 16 traveling by land into Canada only need to present proof of U.S. citizenship (usually a birth certificate). The Canadian government and immigration officials at Canadian ports of entry (to include land, air and international borders that cross shared bodies of water) have sole discretion who to admit into Canada and what citizenship documents they require regardless of age or means of travel.
If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents. Please refer to the CBSA website for more details.
Travel for Private Boaters and Recreational Vessels: Canadian law requires all foreign private boaters, including recreational vessels, to present themselves upon their arrival in Canada to the CBSA. See the CBSA website for information regarding reporting requirements upon entry to Canada by boat. Boaters may report their arrival and/or apply for a registered boater program may use the CBP ROAM app. Current SVRS registration numbers may be used within the CBP Reporting Offsite Arrival - Mobile (ROAM) for expedited processing. Boaters may also continue to report their arrival via designated telephone reporting numbers, if desired. For more information about the CBP ROAM application, please visit the CBP ROAM webpage.
Travelers with HIV/AIDS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to Canada. There are some additional restrictions or processes for foreign residents of Canada, which are explained on the CIC website.
Dual Nationals: Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international parental child abduction, and customs information on our websites.
Safety and Security
Crime: Although Canada generally has a lower crime rate than the United States, violent crimes do occur throughout the country, especially in urban areas. Visitors to large cities and popular tourist destinations should be aware that parked cars are regularly targeted for opportunistic smash-and-grab thefts, and they are cautioned to avoid leaving any unattended possessions in a vehicle, even in the trunk. Due to the high incidence of such crimes, motorists in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and some other jurisdictions can be fined for leaving their car doors unlocked or for leaving valuables in view. Visitors should exercise precaution to safeguard their property.
While Canadian gun control laws are much stricter than those in the United States, such laws have not prevented gun-related violence in certain areas.
Be aware of your surroundings. As in the United States, travelers in popular tourist areas may be targeted by pickpockets and other petty criminals.
Canada has robust protections for an individual’s right to freedom of speech and assembly. As such, there are frequent protests throughout the country on various topics of local and international concern. While there is a very small likelihood of violence at a political gathering in Canada, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to avoid all protests and demonstrations and maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad.
U.S. citizens considering travel outside of populated areas, particularly in the northern Arctic territories, should be aware that due to the extreme isolation and climactic conditions search and rescue capabilities are limited. Travelers should be prepared for significant delays in receiving emergency assistance in these areas and should plan accordingly.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them, you may also violate local law.
Victims of Crime: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
- in cases of destitution, provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the embassy for assistance.
As in the United States, emergency assistance can be reached by dialing 911.
Tourism: The tourism industry is regulated with regularly enforced rules, best practices, and safety inspections. Appropriate signage identifies hazardous areas/activities and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available in or near urban areas of the country. Canada has vast, remote areas where cell phone coverage may be intermittent or nonexistent and sophisticated medical care may be several hours away by road or air. In these remote areas, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. The safest option for travelers to these destinations, particularly in the northern Arctic territories, is to travel with a group and hire the services of an experienced guide, reputable outfitter, or tour company that is familiar with local conditions and prepared for emergency situations specific to the location. U.S. citizens should consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Controlled Substances: Canadian law prohibits trafficking of controlled substances and narcotics, including those which may be legal to possess under the law of certain states. Despite the fact that on October 17, 2018, Canada legalized the personal consumption of recreational cannabis, Canadian law prohibits taking cannabis across Canada’s national borders, whether you are entering or leaving Canada. Smugglers risk substantial fines, a permanent bar from Canada, and imprisonment.
Importation of Firearms: Firearms are more strictly controlled in Canada than in the United States. Violation of firearms restrictions may result in prosecution and imprisonment.
Visitors bringing any firearms or ammunition into Canada must declare the firearms in writing using a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form. Visitors planning to borrow and use a firearm in Canada must obtain a Temporary Firearms Borrowing License in advance. These forms must be presented in triplicate and signed in front of a CBSA officer at the border (it is not possible to make photocopies at the border). Full details and downloadable forms are available at the Canadian Firearms Program website, under the heading "Visitors / Non Residents."
Canadian law requires that officials confiscate any firearms, ammunition, and other weapons from persons crossing the border who do not declare having the items in their possession. Confiscated firearms, ammunition, and weapons will not be returned. Possession of an undeclared firearm may result in arrest and imprisonment. Travelers are strongly advised to inspect all belongings thoroughly prior to travel to Canada to avoid the accidental import of firearms or ammunition.
Pornography: Canada has strict laws concerning child pornography, and in recent years there has been an increase in random checks of electronic media of travelers entering Canada.
Computers and cell phones are subject to searches without a warrant at the border and illegal content can result in the seizure of the computer as well as detention, arrest, and prosecution of the bearer.
Alcohol and cannabis related driving offenses, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability-impaired, and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or cannabis, are criminal offenses in Canada. Penalties are heavy, and any prior conviction (no matter how old or how minor the infraction), is grounds for exclusion from Canada. U.S. citizens with a DWI record must seek approval for rehabilitation from Canadian authorities before traveling to Canada, which requires several weeks or months to process. Please see the CBSA website for details on this program.
Tax Issues: For information on U.S. Federal tax issues, please refer to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website for international taxpayers.
- Refer to this link for reporting requirements regarding Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
- Refer to this link for information on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
- Refer to this link for information about the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (OVDI). For answers to commonly asked questions about the OVDI, please follow this link to OVDI FAQ.
Please see our Customs Information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report .
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Canada. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Although Canada has effectively implemented laws mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Healthcare in Canada: The level of public health and sanitation in Canada is high. Canada’s medical care is of a high standard but is government-controlled. Quick and easy access to ongoing medical care is difficult for temporary visitors who are not members of each province’s government-run health care plans. Many physicians will not take new patients. Access to a specialist is only by referral and may take months to obtain. Although trauma-care is on par with that available in the United States, emergency room waits for non-life threatening problems can be very long. Some health care professionals in the province of Québec may only speak French.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: As in the United States, all emergency assistance in Canada can be reached by dialing 911.
For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada, as well as links to provincial government websites, please see the Transport Canada website or the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) website. The CAA honors American Automobile Association membership. Automobile warranties of vehicles purchased in the United States may not be valid in Canada.
Driving in Canada is similar to driving in many parts of the United States. Distances and speeds, however, are posted in kilometers per hour and some signs, particularly in Québec, may only be in French. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid for visitors in Canada. Proof of auto insurance is required. U.S. auto insurance is accepted as long as an individual is a tourist in Canada. For specific information concerning Canadian driving permits, mandatory insurance, and entry regulations, please contact the Canadian National Tourist Organization.
Some provinces require drivers to keep their vehicles’ headlights on during the day and some have banned driving while using a hand-held cell phone. Motorcycles cannot share a lane, and safety helmets for motorcycle riders and passengers are mandatory.
Drivers should be aware that running a red light is a serious concern throughout Canada and motorists are advised to pause before proceeding when a light turns green.
It is illegal to take automobile radar detectors into Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, the Yukon, or the Northwest Territories, regardless of whether they are used or not. Police there may confiscate radar detectors, operational or not, and impose substantial fines.
Winter travel can be dangerous due to heavy snowfalls and hazardous icy conditions. Snow tires are required in some provinces. The CAA has tips for winter driving in Canada. Both winter conditions and wildfires may prompt the sudden closure of highways. Provincial ministries of transport typically post closures and other alerts about road conditions on their websites.
Drivers approaching border crossings into the United States may experience unexpected traffic backups. Drivers should be alert, as lane restrictions at border approaches exist for drivers in NEXUS and FAST expedited inspection programs.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Canada’s national authority responsible for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Canada’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Canada’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Canada should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories.
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
International Parental Child Abduction
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Canada. For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA) report.”
Have questions? We would love to hear from you. Send us a chat, Send us a Mail or alternatively Call Us at (650) 492-6298.
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