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Canada Travel Requirements for Americans

Canada is a popular travel destination for U.S. citizens because of its proximity and beautiful landscapes.

Whether arriving by land, air, or sea, it’s important U.S. citizens are prepared with everything they need to enter Canada ahead of time.

Note there are different requirements for U.S. citizens traveling for leisure than those entering for extended stays of business or study.

While entry to Canada is much simpler for U.S. Citizens than most other countries, visitors should still start preparing in advance.

Some requirements need to be taken care of at least 72 hours in advance.

What do US citizens need for entry to Canada?

U.S. citizens need to bring a few items with them when they arrive. 

The first is an ArriveCAN receipt with the letter I, V, or A beside the traveler’s name.

ArriveCAN is an app that all visitors are required to download and fill out health-related information on ahead of arrival. 

The second is proof of qualification as a fully vaccinated traveler.

As of April 1, 2022, all foreign travelers must have received vaccines approved by the Government of Canada. It is recommended to bring a hard copy as well as submit it to the ArriveCAN app. 

Unvaccinated travelers are not allowed entry to Canada. Those not fully vaccinated will only be allowed in under specific circumstances. 

The third is proof of U.S. citizenship and identity. This includes a valid U.S. Passport, passport card, or NEXUS card.

Do US citizens need a Visa for entry to Canada?

U.S. citizens do not need a Visa or the Canadian ETA for leisure travel visits for less than 180 days.

For other types of extended travel such as work, study, or immigration, a Visa is required. 

How to use the ArriveCAN App Before Arrival in Canada

The ArriveCAN app asks for health-related information pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The free digital tool can be accessed by mobile app or by creating an account online.

Note that Canada’s laws are subject to change and the app may request different information at different times.  

Visitors need to fill out all requested information at least 72 hours prior to arriving in Canada.

This is mandatory unless exempt due to an accessibility need. 

The app will ask for contact information, travel documents, and proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

If applicable, such as when traveling with children, it will also ask for any test results, quarantine/isolation plans, and more.

Travelers need to make sure all information is accurate and is an exact match to their personal records to avoid being denied entry.

Upon arrival, a border services officer will request to verify each user has filled out the information. 

What are the qualifications for a U.S. citizen to be a fully vaccinated traveler?

All foreign visitors must be approved as fully vaccinated travelers for entry.

To qualify, a U.S. citizen must have received a vaccine accepted for travel by the Government of Canada.

This includes at least two doses of Moderna or Pfizer, one dose of Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or an approved combination.

If having received a vaccine that requires two doses, the second dose must be given at least 14 calendar days before arrival.

Those partially vaccinated do not qualify as a fully vaccinated traveler.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 and only received one dose, unless it was Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, also do not qualify. 

Visitors must also show no signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

These requirements are subject to change as travel regulations do. 

Traveling with Children

The rules for entry with children vary by age and may vary per provincial or territorial rules. The strictest rules are listed below. 

If traveling with fully vaccinated children, visitors should upload their child’s proof of vaccination into the ArriveCAN app.

These children are exempt from providing proof of a pre-entry test.

Children under the age of 5 are exempt from any testing requirements. 

Unvaccinated children 5 through 11 years old must provide proof of a negative pre-entry test, even if traveling with a fully vaccinated adult.

These children are exempt from any quarantine requirements. 

Unvaccinated children 12 through 17 years old are required to quarantine for 14 days, provide proof of a negative pre-entry test, complete an arrival test, and a Day-8 test, even if traveling with a fully vaccinated adult. 

The Canadian government will be conducting random testing, but fully vaccinated travelers will not be required to quarantine while waiting for the results.

All children under the age of 5 will also be required to test if the accompanying parent or caretaker is chosen. 

What are the accepted forms of proof of U.S. citizenship?

U.S. Citizens need to have at least one of these accepted forms of proof of citizenship.

U.S. Passport

U.S. Passports must be valid for at least 3 months after the planned departure date.

Children under the age of 16 do not need a U.S. passport for entry if traveling by land or sea. A birth certificate for these minors will suffice.

All U.S. citizens arriving by air are required to have a passport, regardless of age.

Passport Card 

A Passport Card allows U.S. visitors to travel easily to and from Canada.

It’s a national identity card the size of a credit card easily stored in a wallet. U.S. Citizens can apply for this card just as they do a U.S. Passport. 

Note the Passport Card can only be used when entering by land or sea.


The NEXUS Card is a joint program between the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection designed to expedite border crossing.

U.S. Citizens must undergo background checks by both organizations to be approved.

NEXUS Card holders can use this form of proof no matter what type of entry by land, air, or sea.

If traveling by air, both a valid U.S. Passport and NEXUS Card will be required, however, entry will be much faster. 

Once each of these items is approved, U.S. citizens will be free to enter and enjoy their time in Canada.

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