Passport Alternatives for Canadian Travelers to the US

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), there are several alternatives to a Canadian passport to cross the US Canada border. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a US initiative to secure borders and clampdown on identity document fraud.  Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative travelers into the United States must present a valid identity document to prove their nationality and citizenship. The use of RFID technology and biometric data has enabled the WHTI to include identity documents other than passports. The following documents can be used by Canadian citizens and permanent residents as alternative passports to prove identity and nationality at any US or Canadian port of entry:

NEXUS Card

The NEXUS card can be used in place of a passport for travel across any US border by land, air or sea. Travelers must be jointly preapproved by Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection. Each NEXUS card holder must provide fingerprints and an iris scans if using the card as a NEXUS air pass.  Conditionally approved NEXUS card applicants must attend a 30 minute interview. The NEXUS card is valid for 5 years. All passengers using the NEXUS lane must hold a valid NEXUS card including children and infants.

FAST Pass (land and sea travel only)

The FAST card is available to pre-approved truck drivers who meet the Canada FAST card program criteria. Truckers must be preapproved by Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection. Each FAST card holder must provide fingerprints and attend a 30 minute interview. The FAST card is valid for 5 years and can be used for any land or sea crossing at any Canadian or US border crossing point. FAST card holders can cross in any vehicle providing the applicant is not carrying non-FAST or non-NEXUS card members.

NEXUS and FAST card all qualify for expedited travel across any US border through use of dedicated fast lanes.

Enhanced Drivers License (land and sea travel only)

The enhanced driver’s license contains biometric data in line with the WHTI. It is not issued by all Canadian provinces – to date only British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec issue the enhanced driver’s license. The license is only valid in place of a passport when travelling by land or sea.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Card (land and sea travel only)

First Nation Canadian Indians and Aboriginals can present their Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) provided they are affixed with a photo. The Secure Certificate of Indian Status (SCIS) will only be valid for land travel.

Child Birth Certificate

Children under 16 who are Canadian or US citizens can use their birth certificate in place of a passport when crossing the Canada US border. The child’s birth certificate must be an original copy or an original Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card. Children aged 18 and under traveling in a school or religious group, social or cultural organization, or a sports team can also present their original US or Canadian birth certificate. The group leader must also present a letter detailing information about the trip and passengers.

Note: Adults may no longer travel into the US with only a birth certificate as proof of ID

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