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Travel documents and identification requirements

From: Canada Border Services Agency

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Make sure you carry proper identification for yourself and any children or minors travelling with you. You must be able to confirm your legal right or authorization to enter Canada at the border.

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Residents returning to Canada

Planning travel to Canada? Visit COVID-19: Entering Canada requirements checklist for information about quarantine and your admissibility to Canada.

Carry a valid Canadian passport for all visits abroad, including visits to the United States (U.S.). It is the only universally accepted identification document, and it proves that you have a right to return to Canada.

Acceptable documents to denote identity and citizenship

Upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry, travellers must satisfy a CBSA border services officer (BSO) that they meet the requirements for entry into Canada. For Canadian citizens, permanent residents and persons registered under the Indian Act, this can be done through questioning and through verifying documentation such as a:

If you do not have a passport, and are returning to Canada, the following documents can denote identity and citizenship:

Permanent residents of Canada who are members of the NEXUS or FAST programs must travel with a passport and proof of permanent residence, and may be asked to present these documents to the officer upon arrival at the border.

Other acceptable documents for establishing Canadian citizenship

The following documents may be used to establish Canadian citizenship. Upon presentation by travellers, the documents should be supported by other government issued photo identification:

Other acceptable documents to support identity

The following documents may be used to establish your identity:

Acceptable documents for establishing Registered Indian Status and identity

Every person registered under the Indian Act can enter and remain in Canada by right as per subsection A19(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS), more commonly referred to as the Status card, is an identity document issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada confirming that the cardholder is registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act.

Note: The Certificate of Indian Status (CIS) was replaced by the SCIS in 2009. Existing versions of the CIS will remain valid until their renewal date.

If you plan to travel to or transit through the U.S., we encourage you to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information concerning the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and the requirements to enter or return to the U.S.

Travel with children and minors

When travelling with a minor, you should:

A consent letter must include the custodial parents' or legal guardians':

Border services officers are always watching for missing children and may ask questions about any minors travelling with you.

To avoid delays, have your consent letter notarized to support its authenticity. For more information on consent letters and to download an interactive form, visit Recommended consent letter for children travelling abroad.

More information

International visitors to Canada

Find out if you can enter Canada

All international travellers must carry acceptable identification and a valid visa (if necessary) when entering Canada. A passport is recommended because it is the only reliable and universally-accepted travel and identification document for the purpose of international travel.

International transport companies, such as airlines, must make sure that travellers have proper, valid travel documents. If you do not have the proper documents, you may be delayed or refused entry into Canada. What you need will depend on where you are from, how you are travelling, and what documents you are travelling with. Consult entry requirements by country.

When you enter Canada, a border services officer will ask to see your passport and a valid visa, if you are arriving from a country for which one is required. Visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website to learn more about what travel documents are required.

Citizens of the U.S. who are members of the NEXUS program may present their membership card as proof of identification and as a document that denotes citizenship, when arriving by air (when coming from the U.S.), land, or marine modes.

Citizens of the U.S. who are members of the FAST program may use their cards as proof of identity when arriving by land and marine modes only.

Permanent residents of the U.S. who are members of the NEXUS or FAST programs must travel with a passport and proof of permanent residence, and may be asked to present these documents to the officer upon arrival at the border.

Permanent residents of the U.S. who are members of NEXUS also need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) when flying to or transiting through Canada. Citizens of the U.S. and Canada are exempted.

All visitors arriving from or transiting through the U.S. are encouraged to visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information concerning the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, and the requirements to enter or return to the U.S.

Electronic Travel Authorization

New entry requirement now in effect: visa-exempt foreign nationals need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada.

Exceptions, or visa-exempt foreign nationals, include:

Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents do not need to apply for an eTA.

Be prepared: Apply for an eTA before you book your flight to Canada. Most applicants get approved within minutes. However, some applications can take several days to process so don’t wait until the last minute.

More information

Fake websites

Travellers who apply for an eTA are advised to be cautious in all dealings with companies that claim to offer help in getting an eTA. These companies are not operating on behalf of the Government of Canada. Many have established websites that charge a fee to provide information and submit eTA applications.

This Government of Canada website is the official place to apply for an Electronic Travel Application.

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