advertisement

Passports

For information on passport requirements for entering Canada, visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website at www.cic.gc.ca.

It is no longer possible to enter Canada and return to the U.S. by showing a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) and proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a birth or naturalization certificate). The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), which took full effect in 2009, requires all U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from Canada to have a U.S. passport (this includes children under age 18).

In other words, if you are a U.S. citizen traveling to Canada by air, sea, or land, you must have a valid U.S. passport or a new passport card in order to get back into the U.S.

In addition to carrying a passport from their home country, permanent U.S. residents who aren't U.S. citizens must also be prepared to present their Alien Registration Cards (green cards). Also, if you plan to drive into Canada, be sure to bring your car's registration papers and proof of insurance.

An important point: In addition to a passport, any person under 18 traveling alone needs a letter from a parent or guardian granting him or her permission to travel to Canada. The letter must give the traveler's name and the trip's duration.

Although it is rare, immigration officials may prevent the entry of visitors who appear to pose a health risk, those they doubt will be able to support themselves and their dependents in Canada, or those whose willingness and means to return to their home country is in doubt.

Immigration officials can prevent the entry of foreign nationals who have a criminal record. This includes any convictions for driving while intoxicated; anyone with a felony conviction will find it very challenging to enter Canada.

Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 3 weeks but can take much longer during busy periods (especially spring). And keep in mind that if you need a passport in a hurry, you'll pay a higher processing fee.

For Residents of Australia: You can pick up an application from your local post office or any branch of Passports Australia, but you must schedule an interview at the passport office to present your application materials. Call the Australian Passport Information Service at tel. 131-232 or visit the government website at www.passports.gov.au.

For Residents of Ireland: You can apply for a 10-year passport at the Passport Office, Setanta Centre, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 (tel. 01/671-1633; www.irlgov.ie/iveagh). Those under age 18 and over 65 must apply for a 3-year passport. You can also apply at 1A South Mall, Cork (tel. 021/272-525), or at most main post offices.

For Residents of New Zealand: You can pick up a passport application at any New Zealand Passports Office or download it from their website. Contact the Passports Office at tel. 0800/225-050 in New Zealand or 04/474-8100, or log on to www.passports.govt.nz.

For Residents of the United Kingdom: To pick up an application for a standard 10-year passport (5-year passport for children under 16), visit your nearest passport office, major post office, or travel agency, or contact the United Kingdom Passport Service at tel. 0870/521-0410 or search its website at www.ukpa.gov.uk.

For Residents of the United States: Whether you're applying in person or by mail, you can download passport applications from the U.S. State Department at http://travel.state.gov. To find your regional passport office, either check the U.S. State Department website or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free number (tel. 877/487-2778) for automated information.

Visas

Citizens of the U.S., most European countries, most former British colonies, and certain other countries (Israel, Korea, and Japan, for instance) do not need visas but must carry passports to enter Canada. Entry visas are required for citizens of more than 130 countries. Visas must be applied for and received from a Canadian embassy before arriving in Canada. For more information on entry requirements to Canada, see the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website at www.cic.gc.ca.

Customs 

What You Can Bring Into Canada -- Customs regulations are generous in most respects but get pretty complicated when it comes to firearms, plants, meats, and pets. You can bring in free of duty up to 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, and 200g (7 oz.) of tobacco, providing you're over 18. Those of age (18 or 19, depending on the province) are also allowed about 1.1L liters (37 oz.) of liquor, 1.5 liters (51 oz.) of wine, or 24 355mL (12-oz.) containers of beer. Dogs, cats, and most pets can enter Canada with their owners, though you must have proof of rabies vaccinations within the last 36 months for pets over 3 months old.

Canada has complex requirements, restrictions, and limits that apply to importing meat, eggs, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other food from around the world. You can avoid problems by not bringing such goods into Canada.

As for firearms, visitors can bring rifles for the purposes of hunting into Canada during hunting season. Handguns and automatic rifles are generally not allowed. Fishing tackle poses no problems, but the bearer must possess a nonresident license for the province or territory where he or she plans to use it. For more details concerning Customs regulations, contact the Canada Border Service Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 within Canada or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa.gc.ca).

What You Can Take Home from Canada -- U.S. Citizens: Returning U.S. citizens who have been away for at least 48 hours are allowed to bring back, once every 30 days, US$800 worth of merchandise duty-free. You'll be charged a flat rate of 3% duty on the next US$1,000 worth of purchases. Be sure to have your receipts handy. With some exceptions, you cannot bring fresh fruits and vegetables into the United States. For travelers 18 and older, the $800 duty-free exemption includes the following maximums: 2L (68 oz.) of alcohol, 100 cigars, or 200 cigarettes. For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. (Click on "Travel," and then click on "Know Before You Go"). Or contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP; tel. 877/227-5511 or 703/526-4200) and request the pamphlet.

U.K. citizens: Returning U.K. citizens have a duty-free customs allowance of £390. This amount includes the following maximums: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, or 250g (9 oz.) of tobacco; 4L (135 oz.) of table wine; 1L (34 oz.) of spirits or strong liqueurs (over 22% volume); or 2L (68 oz.) of fortified wine. People under 17 cannot have the tobacco or alcohol allowance. For more information, contact HM Revenue & Customs at tel. 0845/010-9000 (from outside the U.K., 020/8929-0152), or consult their website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Australian Citizens: The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$900 or, for those under 18, A$450. Citizens can bring in 250 cigarettes or 250g (8 3/4 oz.) of loose tobacco, and 2.3L (78 oz.) of alcohol (for travelers 18 and older). If you're returning with valuables you already own, such as foreign-made cameras, you should file form B263, which can be downloaded from www.customs.gov.au. A helpful brochure available from Australian consulates or Customs offices is "Know Before You Go." For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or log on to www.customs.gov.au.

New Zealand Citizens: The duty-free allowance for New Zealand is NZ$700. Citizens over 17 can bring in 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or 250g (8 3/4 oz.) of tobacco (or a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g/8 3/4 oz.), plus 4.5L (152 oz.) of wine and beer, or three 1.1L (37 oz.) bottles of liquor. New Zealand currency does not carry import or export restrictions. Fill out a certificate of export, listing the valuables you are taking out of the country; that way, you can bring them back without paying duty. For more information, contact New Zealand Customs (tel. 0800/428-786 or 09/300-5399; www.customs.govt.nz).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.