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Is there a way to go out of the country while waiting for my passport?

by Brett
(Farmington, Michigan, USA)

Question: I decided to renew my passport since it expires next year. I filled out all the paperwork and sent in my old one and it's been about a week. I am from the United States and I am supposed to go to Canada on Saturday, and I will most likely not receive my passport before then. Is there a way I can still cross the border?

Answer: You have to consider two things: entering Canada and re-entering the United States. U.S. citizens do not need a passport to enter Canada. Canadian Border Patrol agents will ask you to present proof of your citizenship such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization or a Certificate of Indian Status, as well as a photo ID.

The problem may be when you attempt to re-enter the U.S. American citizens returning home from Canada are required to present a WHTI-compliant travel document which can be a valid passport book passport card, an enhanced driver's license (EDL) or a card from a Trusted Travel Program.

There are only a few states that issue enhanced driver's licenses. Michigan is one of them. If you have an EDL, then you can use it at the border when you return to the U.S. Note, it takes 2-3 weeks for EDL applications to be processed so the document would not be ready in time for your trip if you applied today.

The Trusted Travel Program that is available for U.S. citizens who frequently travel to Canada is the Nexus Program. However, this process takes 7-10 days to complete.

Again, you cannot re-enter the U.S. without one of the documents above. The only other alternative is to contact your Michigan State Representative to see what they can do. However, they usually only intervene in cases of extreme emergency.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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