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Can you return to the US from Canada with only a birth certificate?

by Lisa
(Old Bridge, New Jersey, USA)

Question: I have an expired United States passport and want to travel to Canada. Is there anyway to do this without a valid passport?

Answer: It is recommended that you use a current, valid passport when traveling between the United States and Canada. Children are required to present their own passport.

There are a few other WHTI-compliant documents that can be used by U.S. citizens.

When traveling by air, a Merchant Mariner Document (presented by U.S. citizen merchant mariners traveling on official business) or NEXUS Card may be used.

American citizens traveling by land or sea can also present a valid passport card, Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) or a Trusted Traveler Program Card such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST.

Only children under age 16 can present a certified birth certificate when crossing the U.S./Canada border by land or sea.

If you meet the criteria, you can renew your passport by mail. Regular processing takes 4-6 weeks. You can get it in 2-3 weeks if you request expedited services.

For faster service, you can either apply at a regional passport agency or get a private expediting service to submit the application for you.

If you are in Canada when your passport expires, you should visit the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in Canada to renew your passport in Canada.

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Crossing border
by: Anonymous

Question: My husband has to go to Alaska for work in the next 3 weeks. We travel with him also. My husband, me and our 6 yr old son have passports. I have a 5 month old daughter now. I’m seeing passports are being delayed. We want to drive due to all the stuff we have to bring with children and staying for 2 months there. Will we have a problem if my 5 month old don’t have a passport to cross Canada to go to Alaska?

Answer: There should be NO issues transiting through Canada to Alaska without a passport. You just need to present the child's original U.S. birth certificate when asked at the border.

Can Canadian citizen enter US by car, train or bus?
by: Shahi

Question: My daughter is a heart patient in the USA. I am a Canadian citizen. Due to the border closure, I couldn't travel to USA to visit my daughter. She is all alone with her kid in the USA. I really need to be there with her. Now border restrictions extended till July 21st.
I heard Canadian citizens can fly to USA without any problem. Is it true?

Answer: Please contact the CBP for the latest update on border/entry restrictions.

by: Anonymous

Question: I am 20 years old and traveling to Canada for the weekend. I have a valid passport but it is currently at the U.S. embassy because I am in the process of obtaining a student visa. Will I be able to re-enter the U.S. with my birth certificate and Missouri drivers license?

Answer: You need a valid passport book, card or any other WHTI-compliant document like an enhanced driver's license to get back in the United States without any issue. While you will not be expressly denied re-entry, you may face delays at the border if you arrive without any one of the mentioned documents.

Traveling with an infant
by: Jenni

Question: We live in America with an e2 visa. Next week I would like to drive to Niagara Falls with a friend of mine who visited me from Germany. I have to take our baby with me, she has a certification of birth (she is American) but no passport yet. Is it possible to go there without the passport? Thanks a lot!

Answer: Please contact the Canada Border Service Agency and the CBP regarding your concern.

Two day trip
by: Anonymous

Question: My girlfriend and I want to go to Canada for a road trip for a couple days. Will a driver's license and birth certificate get us in and out of Canada with out any problems. We both are over 65 years old.

Answer: You each need a valid passport book, card or any other WHTI-compliant document to re-enter the United States.

Entering the US from Canada
by: Anonymous

Question: I have a colleague who is going to a conference with me and applied for an enhanced drivers license. Her card has yet to arrive but she has the DMV paperwork, birth certificate, and other legal documents. Will she be able to enter the US from Canada by land?

Answer: Please contact the CBP regarding entry to the United States.

by: Anonymous

If you can prove that you are a US citizen, you can indeed travel to Canada by land. This also true when coming back to US by land again. Though the CBP requires all US citizens carry proper documentation for re-entry, missing or not having those documents can not deny you entry, it will only delay your process as the CBP needs to make sure you are in fact a US citizen.

Entry into US
by: Anonymous

Question: If I am visiting Canada and didn’t have enough time to get a passport, am I able to get to Canada and back across with just using my active duty military ID?

Answer: You may only travel with your military ID if it comes with military travel orders.

Entry into U.S. if I am a born citizen
by: Marya

Question: I am 19 and travelling to Canada in less than 2 weeks. My passport expired, and I sent it in to get it renewed, but there were complications. I know I wont be able to get my passport in time, so how will I be able to come back to the U.S.? I know I need to show my birth certificate and driver's license when I go to Canada, but what about me coming back? Please respond as soon as possible! I do not have/know how to get a NEXUS card or other things. I'm sure I won't be able to get it in time for those either.

Answer: Hi, Marya. While you will not be express denied re-entry, you will most likely face considerable delays at the border. A valid passport book, passport card or any other WHTI-compliant document is required for U.S. citizens age 16 and over to re-enter the country without issue. Please contact the CBP for more information.

Returning to the U. S.
by: Fred

Question: Does a Pennsylvania REAL ID card qualify for re-entry into the U.S?

Answer: No, it does not. You need an enhanced driver's license to re-enter the United States by land or sea. If traveling by air, a passport book is required.

Child's birth certificate
by: Desirae

Question: Can I use a printed copy of the birth certificate for my minor child to get in and out of Canada. She is a US citizen.

Answer: Please present the original or a certified copy of your child's birth certificate.

Travel with Retired Military ID
by: DigDug

Question: I see that a WHTI-Compliant Document can be a military ID with orders, but what if I'm retired? Can I use my retired ID card and more importantly, can my kids use their dependent ID cards to enter Canada and re-enter the US? We're traveling by car. I have a valid passport, so no issues with me, but my kids (15 and 18) have expired passports. We renewed them about 6 weeks ago, but have not received them yet. We are traveling in a week. I called today and they gave a free expedite upgrade for them. I have the application locator numbers too if that helps. Just wondering if my kids can use their military dependent IDs in case the passports don't get here in time? Thanks!

Answer: Please contact the CBP regarding the use of military dependent IDs.

Return from Canada to US with a Birth Certificate
by: Ling

Question: We have a plan to travel to Canada in July soon, but my 12-year-old daughter's passport expired on May 2019. So she can just go and return by her birth certificate and expired passport? Thanks.

Answer: If traveling by air, your child will need a valid U.S. passport. If traveling by land or sea, she will only need her U.S. birth certificate.

US-Canadian border crossing
by: Anonymous

Question: Just visited Canada from Buffalo, NY for an afternoon.

Had my enhanced Georgia Driver license. Canadian border guard gave me a hard time because I did not have a passport, but finally allowed us to pass.

On my return, the US border guard also gave me a hard time, but also allowed me to cross.

All that I have read is that with an enhanced DL YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO CROSS BACK AND FORTH.

Answer: That is supposed to be the case. However, border officials have the right to ask for documents or be more scrutinizing. This is for the security of citizens and residents of both countries.

by: Anonymous

Question: Hi I want to travel to Canada by road. My wife, myself and my 2 kids have green cards but my 3rd child who was born in the US has a certificate of live birth. Can we travel to Canada and re-enter the US? I am worried about my child he doesn’t have U.S. passport, and he 7 month old.

Answer: Minors age 15 and younger may travel between the U.S. and Canada by land or sea with just U.S. birth certificates. Your baby should be able to travel with you.

by: Endruie

Question: Hi! I'm traveling with my wife. She has a green card. Does she also need to bring her passport from Spain? And also I have a 2-year-old kid who only has a birth certificate. Can he get into Canada and then come back to the U.S? I am planning to go Niagara Falls. Driving is only 6 hours away and have so many questions.

Answer: 1. Your wife needs to bring her passport and green card. Both should be valid.

2. Your child's U.S. birth certificate should suffice for his/her entry to Canada and re-entry to the United States.

by: Nancy Binion

Question: If I go to Canada from the U.S. with a drivers license and birth certificate, can I return to US without passport?

Answer: Hi, Nancy. If you have an enhanced driver's license, you may re-enter the United States with just that. Otherwise, you need a passport book, card or any other WHTI-compliant document to re-enter the United States.

Infant traveling to the U.S. with Canadian birth certificate
by: Anonymous

Question: I am a Canadian citizen and a green card holder. My wife is a U.S. citizen. Can we return to the U.S. with our 4 months old daughter (who was born in Canada) by car? Can we show her Canadian birth certificate?

Answer: As a U.S. citizen, you need to present your child's proof of U.S. citizenship when entering. Please obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa or any of the U.S. Consulates located all over Canada.

Newly Naturalized Citizen traveling to Canada by land
by: Anonymous

Question: I just had my oath taking as a naturalized US citizen. I am traveling to Canada in 10 days by land. I applied for a passport but I will not receive it on time and I have no other WHTI-compliant documents. What can I show for re-entry to the US? I will be in Canada for just 4 days.

Answer: In order to re-enter the United States by land from Canada, you need to present a WHTI-compliant document. Please contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for more information.

by: Anonymous

Question: I am a 20-year-old U.S. citizen and want to travel to Canada but do not have a passport or enhanced driver's license. Can I cross the border with my birth certificate and drivers license/photo ID?

Answer: While you will be allowed to enter Canada with just citizenship evidence and proof of identity, the same is not applicable for re-entering the United States.

You need to present a passport book, card or any other WHTI-compliant document in order to re-enter the U.S. And while you will not be expressly denied entry at the border, you will face considerable delays while officials verify your status and claim to U.S. citizenship.

by: Anonymous

Question: I am a Canadian citizen living at the Canada/USA border . My passport is currently expired and I really want to go tonight to WalMart to get this awesome computer that's on sale. Would I be able to cross? I have valid driver license, birth certificate and my expired passport.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadian citizens may enter the United States with one the following: Canadian passport, Enhanced Driver's License/Enhanced Identification Card, NEXUS, FAST/EXPRES and SENTRI enrollment cards.

Expired U.S. passport but have dual citizenship
by: Anonymous

Question: I will be traveling by land to Canada in 4 days and have my expired U.S. passport, my birth certificate and my German passport. Will I be able to re-enter the US (by land as well)?

Answer: By law, U.S. citizens are required to exit and re-enter the United States with their U.S. passports. While you may enter Canada with your expired U.S. passport as proof of your citizenship, you need a passport book, card or any other WHTI-compliant document to re-enter the United States.

While you will not be expressly denied entry at the border, you may face delays if you cannot present valid travel documents.

My name is Spelled differently
by: Anonymous

Question: My name is spelled differently just by two letters on my birth certificate but my license is right. Can I still get a passport?

Answer: The slight difference on the spelling may be negligible. Please call customer service at 1-877-487-2778 for more information.

Recently married
by: Anonymous

Question: If I have a passport with my maiden name and go to Canada can I get back into the US with my passport and marriage certificate?

Answer: You may travel to Canada and get back into the United States as long as your passport is valid, regardless of the name printed on it.

If you are traveling by air, please make sure that you book your tickets in the same name that appears on your passport to avoid issues with TSA.

Can I enter Canada with my birth certificate?
by: Anonymous

Question: My passport expired last month and I don't have time or money to get a new one. Can I use my birth certificate and state ID to enter Canada and re-enter the US?

Answer: While Canada will allow you to enter with just proof of citizenship and identity (birth certificate and driver's license), the requirements are different for re-entering the United States.

You will not be able to board an aircraft back to the United States if you do not have a passport book. Border officials will not deny you entry when you arrive at a border by land or sea but you may face delays while they verify your U.S. citizenship.

ID Requirements
by: Anonymous

Question: My daughter is 16 and planning to travel to Canada next week. She has a military ID and a birth certificate but no passport. Will she be able to get back into the states?

Answer: The requirements for adults (16 and over) to enter Canada are different from the requirements to re-enter the United States. Canada will allow your daughter to enter with just her birth certificate. However, if she is traveling by air, she needs a passport book. If traveling by land or sea, a passport card will suffice in order to re-enter the U.S.

While U.S. citizens will not be denied re-entry to the United States at the border, she may face delays while border officials verify her citizenship.

We recommend contacting the Canada Border Service Agency and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office for the latest entry and exit requirements.

Waiting for passport
by: Anonymous

Question: I'm a natural-born citizen and just renewed my passport. I'm still waiting for it but my trip will be in a few days. Can I go to Niagara Falls, Canada without it and with just my original birth certificate and driver's license?

Answer: While you may enter Canada with just your birth certificate and driver's license, the same cannot be used for re-entering the United States. You will need a passport book if returning to the U.S. via air or a passport card if crossing the border by land.

Routine processing takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete. If you paid for expedited service, the passport should arrive 2-3 weeks from date of application. Your passport may still arrive in time. You may check the status of your application here.

Passport soon to expire
by: Anonymous

Question: I am a U.S. citizen traveling to Canada and my passport will expire the day after we plan to return to the US. Does the U.S. or Canada have a 6-month or 3-month rule or will I be OK?

Answer: You should be okay. You may enter Canada using your current passport. In the same manner, you may re-enter the United States up to the expiration date of your U.S. passport.

by: Anonymous

Question: My son's friend just entered Canada with just a birth certificate and license with no problem!

Answer: While U.S. citizens may enter Canada with just proof of U.S. citizenship and identity, you need a valid passport to re-enter the United States by air or a passport, passport card or other approved WHTI-compliant document when entering by land or sea.

No passport
by: Anonymous

Question: I'm 17 do I need a passport to go and come back from Canada, I'm a US citizen.

Answer: Yes, a passport is required to enter Canada and get back in the United States.

Misplaced passport
by: Anonymous

Question: I just moved and my passport has been misplaced. I have a vacation planned in Canada and scheduled to leave within 10 days (will be arriving by land). My state does not offer EDL. What can or should I do to make sure I can leave and return to the US?

Answer: The first step is to call 1-877-487-2778 to report the lost passport. Note, the passport will be invalidated and, if found, cannot be used for travel.

Then, schedule an appointment at a regional passport agency. Since you will not have your previously-issued passport, you must apply as if for the first time.

If you are unable to visit a regional agency, you can employ the services of a registered courier service to submit the application on your behalf. Click the links below for more information.

New Passport Requirements

Applying at a Regional Passport Agency

Applying through a Passport Courier

I'm 15 can I cross?
by: Anonymous

Question: I'm 15 and I'm running away on a vacation. I plan to come back to the US. I live in the US. What do I need to cross the border when I go to Canada and when I come back?

Answer: You need your original birth certificate or a certified copy issued by the vital records office of the county in which you were born. You also need a letter of consent to travel signed by both parents. If signed by only one parent, you need to provide proof that parent has sole legal custody.

Please answer quickly
by: Anonymous

Question: I'm 18 years old and I'm currently in a abusive home. I'm running away to Canada to be with my boyfriend of 4 years who is a native born Canadian citizen and all I have is my birth certificate, my college ID and my expired US passport. Will I be able to cross with my expired passport and proof of American citizenship?

Answer: You will need a valid U.S. passport to enter Canada. It is possible to get a passport as quickly as the same day at a regional processing center. At 18, parental consent is not required.

Need to go home

Question: I am an American in Toronto Canada. I lost my wallet & passport and all I have is my American Drivers Lic. my car, and my ownership. I need to go back home (minnesota.) How would I go abouts going home? Please reply.

Answer: Apply for an emergency passport at the U.S. Consulate General in Toronto.

Returning to the U.S.
by: William

You cannot enter the U.S. without a passport unless you are a minor. All U.S. citizens age 16 and over are required to present a valid passport when entering the United States. You can apply for a passport at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate general.

Can I get across
by: Anonymous

I am a US citizen living in Canada. I want to move back home and I don't have a passport. I have a Canadian drivers License and my US birth certificate. Would I be able to cross the border with these documents?

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