COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Canada is the second largest country in the world in land area, and has large mountain ranges and extensive coastlines. Tourist facilities are widely available in much of the country, but the northern and wilderness areas are less developed and facilities there can be vast distances apart. It is a highly developed stable democracy with a vibrant economy. English and French are the official languages. Please read more about U.S. relations with Canada.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: If you are going to live in or visit Canada, please take the time to tell us about your trip. By enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
490 Sussex Drive, K1N 1G8
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: (613) 238-5335
Emergency after-hours telephone: (613) 238-5335
Facsimile: (613) 688-3082
The Embassy's consular district includes Ottawa, Eastern Ontario (Kingston, Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Refrew, Russell, and Stormont), and those parts of Quebec near Ottawa (Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingues).
U.S. Consulates General are located in:
615 Macleod Trail SE, 10th Floor
Telephone: (403) 266-8962
Emergency after-hours telephone: (403) 266-8962 then press '0'
Facsimile: (403) 263-2241
The consular district includes Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories, excluding Nunavut.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Upper Water Street, Suite 904, Purdy's Wharf Tower II
Telephone: (902) 429-2480
Emergency after-hours telephone: (902) 429-2485
Facsimile: (902) 423-6861
The consular district includes New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
1155 rue St. Alexandre
Telephone: (514) 398-9695
Emergency after-hours telephone: (514) 981-5059
Facsimile: (514) 398-9748
The consular district includes Greater Montreal and the regions of Southern Quebec Province (Laurentides, Lanaudiere, Laval, Montreal, Montregie, Estrie, and the southern parts of Centre-du-Quebec), including Joliete, Drummondville, and Sherbrooke.
Quebec City, Quebec
2 rue de la Terrasse Dufferin
Telephone: (418) 692-2095
Emergency after-hours telephone: (418) 692-2096
Facsimile: (418) 692-4640
The consular district includes Quebec City and those regions of Quebec Province to the North and East of the Montreal and Ottawa Districts (indicated above), plus the Territory of Nunavut.
360 University Avenue (please note that consular clients must enter the Consulate at 225 Simcoe Street)
Telephone: (416) 595-1700
During working hours: (416) 595-6506
After hours: (416) 201-4100
American Citizen Services Telephone: (416) 595-6501
Facsimile: (416) 595-5466
The consular district includes the province of Ontario except for the counties of Kingston, Lanark, Leeds, Prescott, Refrew, Russell, and Stormont, which are served by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.
Vancouver, British Columbia
1095 West Pender Street (please note that consular clients must enter the Consulate at 1075 West Pender Street)
Telephone: (604) 685-4311
Facsimile: (604) 685-7175
The consular district includes British Columbia and the Yukon Territory.
201 Portage Street, Suite 860
Telephone: (204) 940-1800
Facsimile: (204) 940-1809
The consulate provides only emergency services for U.S. citizens in distress; it does not provide consular services. Manitoba-related consular matters such as visas, passports, and notarials are handled at other U.S. Consulates General, primarily Calgary.
For information on services for U.S. citizens who live in or visit Canada, please see the U.S. Embassy website. No visa or consular/passport information is available by calling the embassy or consulate switchboards.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: For tourist visits to Canada of less than 180 days, U.S. citizens do not need visas. Other types of travel (e.g., to work, study, or immigrate) generally do require visas. For complete information on visa categories and requirements, consult the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.
Please Note: Anyone with a criminal record (including misdemeanors or alcohol-related driving offenses) may not be able to enter Canada without first obtaining an approval for rehabilitation well in advance of any planned travel. To determine whether you may be inadmissible and how to overcome this finding, please refer to the CIC website.
Entry into Canada is solely determined by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials in accordance with Canadian law. Please see the CBSA’s website for full details.
Travel Documents: Both the U.S. and Canadian governments urge frequent travelers to join the NEXUS trusted traveler program. NEXUS members receive a special travel card that allows expedited border crossings for both private and commercial travelers through both U.S. and Canadian border controls.
Entry into Canada: Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens.
Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship.
Entry into the United States: When traveling by air from Canada, U.S. citizens are required by U.S. law to present a U.S. passport book, except as noted in the few exceptions provided on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.
For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document. The only exception to this requirement is for U.S. citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) who need only present a birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or naturalization certificate.
Travel with Minors: If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents. Please refer to the CBSA website for more details. There is no specific form for this document, but it should include dates of travel, parents’ names and photocopies of their state-issued IDs.
Travel for Private Boaters and Recreational Vessels: Canadian law requires all foreign private boaters, including recreational vessels, to present themselves upon their arrival in Canada to the CBSA. Failure to report entry may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of the vessel and/or monetary penalties. Upon entering Canadian waters, private boaters who qualify can present themselves to the CBSA by calling the Telephone Reporting Centre (TRC) at 1-888-226-7277.
For additional information regarding reporting requirements upon entry to Canada by boat, please refer to the CBSA Fact Sheet. For procedures to report arrivals in the United States through the Small Vessels Reporting System, please refer to the Small Vessel Reporting System and Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements web pages of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Canada.
Information about dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Although Canada generally has a lower crime rate than the United States, violent crimes do occur throughout the country, especially in urban areas. Visitors to large cities should be aware that parked cars are regularly targeted for opportunistic smash-and-grab thefts, and they are cautioned to avoid leaving any possessions unattended in a vehicle, even in the trunk. Due to the high incidence of such crimes, motorists in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and some other jurisdictions can be fined for leaving their car doors unlocked or for leaving valuables in view.
Auto theft in Montreal and Vancouver, including theft of motor homes and recreational vehicles, may even occur in patrolled and apparently secure parking lots and decks. SUVs appear to be particular targets of organized theft.
While Canadian gun control laws are much stricter than those in the United States, such laws have not prevented gun-related violence in certain areas.
Be aware of your surroundings. As in the United States, travelers in popular tourist areas may be targeted by pickpockets and other petty criminals.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Do not buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
Each of Canada’s provinces has a Crime Victim Compensation Board from which U.S. citizen victims of crime in Canada may seek redress. The website for each provincial government includes information about its victim compensation program.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
As in the United States, emergency assistance can be reached by dialing 911.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Canada’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Canada are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Canadian law prohibits the unlawful importation or trafficking of controlled substances and narcotics. Smugglers risk substantial fines, a permanent bar from Canada, and imprisonment.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Canada, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Importation of Firearms: Firearms are much more strictly controlled in Canada than in the United States. Violation of firearms restrictions may result in prosecution and imprisonment.
Visitors bringing any firearms into Canada, or planning to borrow and use firearms while in Canada, must declare the firearms in writing using a Non-Resident Firearm Declaration form. Visitors planning to borrow a firearm in Canada must obtain a Temporary Firearms Borrowing License in advance. These forms must be presented in triplicate and signed in front of a CBSA officer at the border (it is not possible to make photocopies at the border). Full details and downloadable forms are available at the Canadian Firearms Centre website, under the heading "Visitors / Non Residents."
Canadian law requires that officials confiscate any firearms and weapons from persons crossing the border who deny having the items in their possession. Confiscated firearms and weapons are never returned. Possession of an undeclared firearm may result in arrest and imprisonment. Travelers are strongly advised to inspect all belongings thoroughly prior to travel to Canada to avoid the accidental import of ammunition or firearms.
Canada has three classes of firearms: non-restricted, restricted, and prohibited.
Non-restricted firearms include most ordinary hunting rifles and shotguns.
These may be brought temporarily into Canada for sporting or hunting use during hunting season, use in competitions, in-transit movement through Canada, or personal protection against wildlife in remote areas of Canada.
Anyone wishing to bring hunting rifles into Canada must:
Restricted firearms are primarily handguns; while they are not firearms, pepper spray, mace, and some knives also are included in this category.
A restricted firearm may be brought into Canada, but an Authorization to Transport permit must be obtained in advance from a Provincial or Territorial Chief Firearms Officer.
Prohibited firearms include fully automatic, converted automatics and certain military style weapons, including weapons designed for civilian use. A full list of prohibited weapons is available on the Canadian Firearms Centre website. Prohibited firearms are not allowed into Canada.
Pornography: Canada has strict laws concerning child pornography, and in recent years there has been an increase in random checks of electronic media of travelers entering Canada.
Computers and cell phones are subject to searches without a warrant at the border and illegal content can result in the seizure of the computer as well as detention, arrest, and prosecution of the bearer.
Possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Production and distribution of child pornography is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Browsing for child pornography on the internet is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Prohibitions cover visual representations of sexual activity by persons (real or imaginary) under the age of 18 and include comic book imagery such as anime and manga.
Alcohol-related driving offenses, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving while ability-impaired, and driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, are criminal offenses in Canada. Penalties are heavy, and any prior conviction (no matter how old or how minor the infraction) is grounds for exclusion from Canada. U.S. citizens with a DWI record must seek approval for rehabilitation from Canadian authorities before traveling to Canada, which requires several weeks or months to process. Please see the CBSA website for details on this program.
Accessibility: Although Canada has effectively implemented laws mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States.
Tax Issues: For information on U.S. Federal tax issues, please refer to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website for international taxpayers.
Refer to this link for reporting requirements regarding Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).
Refer to this link for information on the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
All of the above links are also available through the IRS website.
Please see our Customs Information.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: The level of public health and sanitation in Canada is high. Canada’s medical care is of a high standard but is government-controlled. Quick and easy access to ongoing medical care is difficult for temporary visitors who are not members of each province’s government-run health care plans. Many physicians will not take new patients. Access to a specialist is only by referral and may take months to obtain. Emergency room waits can be very long. Some health care professionals in the province of Quebec may speak only French.
Traveler’s medical insurance is highly recommended even for brief visits. No Canadian health care provider accepts U.S. domestic health insurance, and Medicare coverage does not extend outside the United States. Visitors who seek any medical attention in Canada should be prepared to pay cash in full at the time the service is rendered.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Canada, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Canada is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. As in the United States, all emergency assistance in Canada can be reached by dialing 911.
Transport Canada is the Canadian federal government agency responsible for road safety, although each province or territory has the authority to establish its own traffic and safety laws and issue driving licenses. For detailed information on road conditions throughout Canada, as well as links to provincial government websites, please see the Transport Canada website or the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) website. The CAA honors American Automobile Association membership. Some automobile warranties of vehicles purchased in the United States may be invalid in Canada; please check the warranty of your vehicle.
Driving in Canada is similar to driving in many parts of the United States. Distances and speeds, however, are posted in kilometers per hour and some signs, particularly in Quebec, may only be in French. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid for visitors in Canada. Proof of auto insurance is required. U.S. auto insurance is accepted as long as an individual is a tourist in Canada. U.S. insurance firms will issue a Canadian insurance card, which should be obtained and carried prior to driving into Canada. For specific information concerning Canadian driving permits, mandatory insurance and entry regulations, please contact the Canadian National Tourist Organization.
Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit in Canada is 50km/hr (32 miles/hr) in cities and 80km/hr (50 miles/hr) on highways. On rural highways, the posted speed limit may be 100km/hr (approximately 60 miles/hr). Seat belt use is mandatory for all passengers, and child car seats must be used by children under 40 pounds.
Some provinces require drivers to keep their vehicles’ headlights on during the day and some have banned driving while using a hand-held cell phone. Motorcycles cannot share a lane, and safety helmets for motorcycle riders and passengers are mandatory.
Many highways do not have merge lanes for entering traffic. Emergency vehicles frequently enter the oncoming traffic lane to avoid congestion. Drivers should be aware that running a red light is a serious concern throughout Canada and motorists are advised to pause before proceeding when a light turns green. Turning right at a red light is prohibited on the Island of Montreal, and motorists are subject to substantial fines.
It is illegal to take automobile radar detectors into Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, the Yukon or the Northwest Territories, regardless of whether they are used or not. Police there may confiscate radar detectors, operational or not, and impose substantial fines.
Winter travel can be dangerous due to heavy snowfalls and hazardous icy conditions. Some roads and bridges are subject to periodic winter closures. Snow tires are required in some provinces. The CAA has tips for winter driving in Canada. Travelers also should be cautious of deer, elk, and moose while driving at night in rural areas.
Highway 401 from Detroit to Montreal, which is one of the busiest highways in North America, has been the scene of numerous deadly traffic accidents due to sudden, severe, and unpredictable weather changes, high rates of speed, and heavy truck traffic.
There have been numerous incidents on Canada highways involving road racing and dangerous truck driving. Drivers can be aggressive, exceeding speed limits and passing on both sides, and police enforcement is spotty. In addition, approaches to border crossings into the United States may experience unexpected traffic backups. Drivers should be alert, as lane restrictions at border approaches exist for drivers in NEXUS and FAST expedited inspection programs.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of Canada’s national authority responsible for road safety.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Canada’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Canada’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Canada dated November 3, 2011, updating Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, Special Circumstances, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.