Continue reading to learn when you need a passport to travel to Canada, and in which cases other proof of citizenship and identity will suffice. Then, read an overview of amazing Canadian attractions, and get tips on how to score cheap fights to Canada.
Information correct as of July 26, 2019, obtained from www.travel.state.gov. Please always check the latest guidance at U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs before booking a trip.
Canada Entry Requirements for US Citizens
Historically, the answer of whether you need a passport to go to Canada was often “no,” at least for US citizens. Today, however, it depends upon how you plan to enter Canada. If you book a flight to Toronto (or another Canadian city) and enter Canada by air, you need a valid US passport with at least three months validity to enter Canada.
Entering by land or sea presents other options. While a passport is the easiest way to enter Canada, you can also use a combination of documents that prove your citizenship (like your birth certificate) and identity (like a drivers license).
On top of a passport, there may be instances where you will need a visa to enter Canada. Most tourists do not need visas, however, if you are working, studying, having a medical procedure, or marrying a Canadian you may need additional documents.
Popular Canada Ports of Entry
Most flights from the US to Canada land in Toronto, which makes sense since this is Canada’s largest city. Often thought of as a cleaner, colder version of New York, top Toronto attractions include the CN Tower and the Royal Ontario Museum. You need a passport to go to Canada via Toronto, but trust us—it’s more than worth the hassle.
Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Land Border
You don’t need a passport to go to Canada via the Detroit-Winsdor border tunnel, which connects Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario. However, if you don’t bring your passport, you have to have a birth certificate and government-issued ID with you. This is primarily a business border crossing, and isn’t convenient to many tourist spots, though you’ll eventually get to Toronto (and, after that, the Canadian capital of Ottawa) if you continue driving on Highway 401.
After Toronto, Montreal is among the most popular ways to enter Canada, though you DO need a passport to go to Canada if you arrive at Trudeau Airport. Beyond exploring Montreal, a vibrant city where English- and French-speaking Canadian cultures meet, you can easily access French-colonial Quebec city from Montreal, which further underlies why so many people browse flights from the United States to Montreal.
Border Crossings Between Seattle and Vancouver
Several border crossings exist between Seattle and Vancouver—and, more broadly, between the US state of Washington and Canada’s British Columbia province. You’ll need a passport to go to Canada if you fly to Vancouver International Airport, while crossing via land borders like the Peace Arch (via I-5) or any of the various ferries that cross the frontier requires proof of both citizenship and identity.
Amazing Things to Do in Canada
Beyond the activities and attractions mentioned above, which are convenient to Canada’s top ports of entry, Canada is chock full of amazing things to see and do. Book a flight to Calgary–the capital of Canada’s Alberta province–and take a road trip along the Icefields Parkway, a scenic road that runs through the Canadian Rockies between Banff and Jasper National Parks.
Other top Canadian attractions include (half of) Niagara Falls, which is close to Toronto, and just across from the US city of Buffalo. The Gaspé Peninsula of Québec province is a beautiful destination in summer, while for winter travels you can search flights to Winnepeg and then head further north to scout polar bears in their natural habitat.
How to Save on Flights to Canada
Have a valid passport? You’re ready to travel to Canada by air. These tips will ensure you get the best price when you use your passport to go to Canada.
- Set up Skyscanner Fare Alerts to get notified when flights on carriers like Canada’s WestJet go on sale
- Be flexible about your origin and departure. It might be cheaper to fly from Chicago than Milwaukee, for example, or to fly from New York to Montreal instead of to Quebec City
- Speaking of flexibility, Skyscanner’s “Cheapest Month” search chooses the cheapest day to fly, if you’re not set on a particular travel date
- Use Skyscanner’s “Best Time to Book” feature to learn the optimal time to book your ticket. If you don’t have a passport yet, think of this as a deadline to meet
- Consider flying to a border city, then crossing by land—browse flights to Buffalo, NY, for example, and cross by bus to Niagara Falls to save money