Traveling to Canada, whether from the United States or another country, is an exciting adventure. Canada has plentiful sights, culture, and history. It is also a major business hub for professionals from around the globe.
When visiting the country, it is important to understand the legal logistics and be prepared for any border and customs hurdles you might face. From the length of your stay to Visa requirements, these 7 items are critical to understand before booking your flight.
7 Essential Items to Address Before Traveling to Canada
Do I Need a Passport?
Anyone entering Canada that is not a legal resident of the country is required to have a valid passport at the time of entry.
Furthermore, you must have one blank page available for stamping within customs, and your passport must be valid for a minimum of 180 days. However, it’s preferable that your passport is valid for 6 months.
You are also required to carry proof of citizenship and identity for children under the age of 16.
Valid passports, enhanced driver’s licenses, passport cards, and NEXUS cards are accepted for United States residents.
Dual Canadian citizens are required to have a valid Canadian passport to re-enter the country as of November 10, 2016. Therefore, if you are a dual citizen, you must apply for a Canadian passport. In addition, you must carry your Canadian and the other country’s passport when entering the country.
Do I Need a Visa to Enter Canada?
The Government of Canada has deployed a new entry requirement. For Visa-exempt foreign nationals, the Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly into or drive across the Canadian border is required.
United States residents and Canadian Visa holders do not need an eTA. Also, Canadian citizens, including dual citizens and permanent residents are not obligated to have an eTA.
The government’s website has a country code search tool that lets you identify if you must have an eTA or a Visitor Visa to enter the country.
For example, residents of Afghanistan are required to have a Visa, while residents of Australia only need an eTA to visit the country.
How Long Can I Visit Canada?
A border services officer at Canada’s port of entry will determine how long a person can stay based on their Visa and country of origin. Most visitors in the country can stay up to six months from the day they enter.
A border services offer may authorize a stay under the six-month period, and they will indicate the number of days allowed on the passport. There will be an “Exit Day” listed on your passport telling you the date by which you must leave the country.
If you want to stay past your authorized stay point, you must apply for an extension a minimum of 30 days before your authorized stay date expires.
Note that you can only extend beyond visitor status if you are traveling longer, working, or if you are a student. You may be required to apply for a new permit, such as transferring from a study permit to a work permit.
Can I Bring My Gun into the Country?
You can bring a firearm into the country per the Firearms Act. However, you must be 18 years old, and you must have a license for carrying your gun. As a non-resident, you will be required to follow one of two options for bringing your firearm into the country:
- Use the Non-Resident Firearm Declaration: Tell the customs officer that you need to complete Form RCMP 5589. If you have more than three firearms, you will need to use Form RCMP 5590. The Canada Border Services Agency will help you complete the form, and you will be charged a fee. The form, however, only permits 60 days. You must renew if you plan to visit longer.
- Five-Year License: If you intend to visit the country frequently, it may be in your best interest to apply for a five-year possession license. You will be required to pass the written and practical tests in the country.
Can I Bring My Pet to Canada?
While in most instances you can bring your pet into the country, the Canadian Government reserves the right to refuse entry to any animal that does not meet their requirements.
You must complete all necessary documents for bringing your animal into the country, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency oversees documentation and approvals.
Domestic pets do not have to be quarantined, so you could bring your family dog or cat into the country. However, you may be required to have an identification or microchip on your animal, and there will be a list of necessary vaccinations depending on the pet and age of that pet.
Most likely, you will be required to carry all documentation regarding your pet’s age, immunization history, and more. Also, if your domesticated pet has a special diet, you may need special approval to import that food with you and your animal.
Can I Enter Canada if I Have a DUI?
Canada has limited tolerance for drunk driving offenders. Therefore, it is not likely that they will allow you into the country if you have been convicted of a DUI offense. The Canadian immigration officer will decide if you can enter based on your eTA and other evidence.
One of the more unknown consequences of a DUI conviction is that Canada may restrict you from entering their country for up to ten years. The reason for this is that Canada does not see a DUI as a misdemeanor like other countries or certain states in the United States. In Canada, a DUI may be considered an Indictable Offense (the equivalent to a Felony, in the U.S.A.).
If you have been convicted of what the country feels is an indictable offense, you will likely be prohibited from entering into Canada for up to 10 years, unless you have been granted a Waiver of the Ineligibility status.
There are exceptions to this rule, but it is best to consult with a border crossing and immigration attorney for assistance.
What Are the Wait Times at the Canadian Border?
No one wants to spend hours waiting at the border crossing, but you are inevitably going to face a few lines no matter when you are visiting.
The best way to speed up the process is to have all documents ready for the border officer. Also, having all documentation for other items you are entering with (such as pets or a firearm) will speed up the process.
There are border wait times posted on the Government of Canada’s website, and you can download the CanBorder app to keep up on times.
Sometimes the help of an attorney is well worth it when entering another country. An attorney understands all border control requirements, and if you have special circumstances like domestic animals, a firearm, or a criminal record, you will need a lawyer to assist you with customs.
Basiga Law Firm has offices in the United States and Ontario, and we can assist you with entering and exiting the country.
Get assistance with your border crossing issues today by calling our offices for a free case review at 517-708-7830 (U.S.) or 519-432-7780 (Ontario).
You can also request information online.