The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is new U.S. legislation that requires all travellers to carry a valid passport or other appropriate secure document, or combination of documents that establish citizenship and identity when travelling to the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.
WHTI Fact Sheet
Since January 23, 2007, anyone travelling by AIR between the United States and Canada is required to present a valid passport or NEXUS card (when used at designated airports) to enter or re-enter the United States.
As of June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens returning home from Canada LAND or SEA (including cruises and ferries), will be required to present one of the travel documents listed below.
U.S. Passport – This is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies a person’s identity and nationality. It is accepted for travel by air, land and sea.
U.S. Passport Card – This is a new, limited-use travel document that fits in your wallet and costs less than a U.S. Passport. It is only valid for travel by land and sea.
Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – Several states and Canadian provinces are issuing this driver’s license or identification document that denotes identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea.
Trusted Traveler Program Cards – NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment cards can speed your entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The cards are valid for use at land or sea; the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk.
Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizens under the age of 16, or under the age of 19 if travelling with a school, religious, or other youth group, may present a birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Canadian Citizenship Card or a naturalization certificate. Birth certificates can be an original, photocopy, or certified copy.
Websites for more information:
Visit the U.S. Department of State website frequently for international travel updates.
For detailed information about obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit the U.S. Department of State, Passport Services Office, or access U.S. passport application services from the United States Postal Service.
Anyone with a criminal record (including a DWI charge) should contact the Canadian Embassy or nearest Consulate General before travel. For information on admissibility, applying for a Temporary Resident Permit, Approval of Rehabilitation, or Permission to Return to Canada visit the Washington Canadian Embassy - Visas & Immigration.
If you travel across the border often, consider joining NEXUS to simplify your journey. The NEXUS program is limited to citizens of Canada and the United States, lawful permanent residents of the United States and permanent residents of Canada. NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low risk, pre-approved travelers into Canada and the United States. For information on how to apply, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
For detailed information on entry requirements, including medical exams, working or studying in Canada, and what you are permitted to bring into Canada, visit the Canada International website.
International visitors to Canada (not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents) must carry a valid passport and, if required, a visa. Citizens from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and others do not require a visa to enter Canada. Visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for a complete listing of countries whose citizens require visas to enter Canada.
All other visitors should contact their Canadian consulate or embassy to learn what documents are required. Contact information for Canadian embassies around the world can be found at the Foreign Affairs Canada website.
To learn more about Canadian customs regulations, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website.
If you are traveling with children, you must carry identification, such as a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or student visa for each child under 18 years old. Divorced parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. Adults who are not parents or guardians must have written permission from the parents or guardians to accompany the children. When traveling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should travel in the same vehicle as the children for border crossing.
Customs officers are often looking for missing children and may ask questions about the children who are traveling with you.
Visitors are allowed to bring certain goods as part of their "personal baggage", but some products are limited and, in some cases, prohibited by Canada Customs.
Products that are banned include obscene materials, hate propaganda, most weapons and firearms and goods harmful to the environment.
The following is a list of items you are allowed to bring into Canada tax-free if you are over 19:
Canadian custom brokers or a Canadian Customs office can provide information on transportation companies that offer efficient, cross-border delivery of materials for time-sensitive meetings or exhibits.
The following is a guideline for visitors returning home from Canada and may change at any time. Contact your local embassy or consulate, before returning home, if you are unsure of an item you are bringing back home.
USA Residents--Every 30 days, returning U.S. Citizens are allowed to bring back duty free $400 worth of retail merchandise, provided they have been outside the U.S. for 48 hours. If the length of stay is less than 48 hours, $200 worth of merchandise may be taken back to the USA.
UK Residents--Citizens of the U.K. returning from a non-EU country have a customs allowance of 200 cigarettes, OR 50 cigars, OR 250g of smoking tobacco; 2 liters of still table wine; 1 liter of spirits or strong liqueur (over 22% volume); 2 liters of fortified wine, sparkling wine, OR other liqueurs; 60cc (ml) perfume; 250cc (ml) of cologne; AND £145 worth of all other goods, including gifts and souvenirs. People under 17 cannot have the tobacco or alcohol allowance.
EU Residents -- Each passenger over 17 years of age from a non-EU country is entitled to import the following articles duty-free; in 200 cigarettes, OR 50 cigars, OR 250g of tobacco (or a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g); 2l of wine, and 1 l of spirits with an alcoholic content exceeding 22% vol, OR 2 l of spirits/aperitifs with an alcoholic content less than 22% vol, OR 2 l champagne/sparkling wine/liqueur wine; 50 g of perfume; 0.25 l cologne; gifts of a value not exceeding approximately ECU 175. Limits cannot be added for passengers travelling together.
Australian Residents--The duty-free allowance in Australia is A$400 OR, for those under 18, A$200. Personal property mailed back from abroad should be marked Australian goods returned to avoid payment of duty. Upon returning to Australia, citizens can bring in 250 cigarettes OR 250g of loose tobacco; and 1.125ml of alcohol. If you're returning with previously owned valuable goods, such as foreign-made cameras, file form B263.
New Zealand Residents--The duty-free allowance for New Zealand is NZ$700. Citizens over 17 can bring in 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars, OR 250g of tobacco (OR a mixture of all three if their combined weight doesn't exceed 250g); plus 4.5 liters of wine and beer, OR 1.125 liters 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.
Visitors to Canada from countries not listed here should check before they leave what their limits are for duty-free.