Entering, Returning from Canada

I’ve got a Canadian paddling trip coming up fast and just realized my passport is expired.

From what I could learn online, Canada only requires a photo ID such as a driver’s license AND an expired passport, so I’m OK there. But the US requires “… either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document”, none of which I have.

Anyone recently crossed back into the US from Canada and aware of any exemptions?


I live on the US - Canadian border
Google the US customs office where you will return back to the US and ask them. My guess is the Canadian customs people will strongly suggest you not enter Canada- not leave the US because you will be pulled in at US customs. If you have a birth certificate with raised letters that will help. If you can prove you have applied for a passport or passport card- that might help.

We live in Ogdensburg, NY on the mighty St lawrence River and often cross. I am 99% sure you will be OK with only an hour delay. This hassle about crossing is really about Mexican drug dealers. It is not politically correct to allow easier access from Canada than Mexico.

Stuck in Canada…?
I don’t think the US will let you reenter without a passport. I’ve friends who had bad experiences with that. Could you get your passport application expedited for some extra $'s by your passport office? They will do that here.

Also Planned Trip to Canada
I applied for and got my passport card but it took a month to get it and I had to return 3 times to make sure I had all the appropriate paperwork. You will need a Birth Certificate with the embossed/raised seal or they will not accept it now way now how!!! Also your drivers license and they would prefer to have payment in money order or credit card. Cash means you have to pay extra for a money order and takes an extra 20 minutes to process.

I did have friend who forgot her passport and was held at the border for re-entry into the US for several hours until they finally checked things out and then with a nice lecture let her through. Not sure if your B/C will cut it anymore, that’s what I’ve always used in the past.

If you aren’t up to date then you might want to rethink your trip. It’s a bummer but it’s the way it seems to be now. Also, do a search on what foods you can and cannot bring either way. If you have fruits/meats/other such products you may have it taken. I’m planning on bringing boxed products and supplementing once over the border to avoid hassles. Have had a few in the past. Good luck


Uh, how about,
…crossing from the US to Canada with a few ounces of scotch in a flask? I’m off to Georgian Bay on the 15th and have been pondering whether I could get it across.

Won’t be an issue upon my return:)

sure hassle the tax payers.
can’t get a passport cause i am a bad boy. i cross all the time bot in my canoe away from the stations. in some parts of maine the border patrol set up road blocks to check IDs of people in the border area. whats next drones on the St.Croix. they used to have a camera at the confluence of the st.john and big black rivers. so important google earth has blanked it of the map.

Boozing in Canada
Here’s a link to what you can bring in for legal limits:


Although it’s more expensive to buy up there it’s, in my eyes, easier to cross without anything. I believe, but am not sure, that duty free stores offer a good price on booze once you cross over. I’m going that route next week when we head up.

Consider writing your congressman
and senators and let them know that you don’t like playing “passport” for your freedom.

Seems to me that an “expired” passport should be honored for return from Canada, as long as you have additional information.

We already had one expected trip spoiled because I forgot to pack my passport. I knew that without it, I would look just like a Mexican cartel member.

…I think I’ll just flask up a small amount and go for it.

it doesnt matter if you like it or not

– Last Updated: Jul-05-10 4:58 PM EST –

if you have something as trivial as a DUI, even an old one, there is a maze of paperwork and interrogations to go through in order to enter Canada (apart from the passport issue).


Next time think about what you are doing as a bad boy. Of course there is the lucky chance you will not be questioned.

Expedited passport service is at best two weeks.

You CAN get into Canada with a photo ID drivers license AND a birth certificate (not a copy). But you cant get back in the US without a passport, passport card Nexus card or enhanced drivers license.


Also dont forget you need a special yellow card issued by your insurance company that shows you have adequate coverage for Canadian driving. Otherwise should you be in an accident your car can be impounded.

The booze up there is far superior to Merican rotgut. Its a bit expensive but better selection.

So far this year three crossings. I used to live on the border and it was most every day. Eight more crossings in the next couple months.

Bringing food in for a trip is a non issue. I routinely bring in all my food for a three week canoe trip. I have been questioned about citrus but have never had any.


Eat it all. You cannot bring back meat and some other stuff. Sometimes fruit is an issue.

We got searched
both entering and leaving Canada last summer. The Canadians were very nice about it all, and apologized 3 times for the inconvenience - I guess we were the Xth crossers that day, and they inspect every Xth vehicle.

Coming back, the US border guards were total A-holes to us, and were trying to accuse us of evading taxes - they couldn’t believe all I bought up there and brought back was a hat (Which was true - I didn’t buy anything else). They searched the car and the kayaks, and didn’t find a thing.

I never knew a middle-aged couple in a station wagon was such a threat to law and order…

People drawn to that type of work are often mentally weak. Having a small amount of power over others makes them feel strong. At work the bully the public then go home get drunk and beat their dog.

thats a bunch of crap NM

You don’t . . .
. . . need a passport to enter the U.S. if you are a U.S. citizen. The border thugs will give you a hard time but if you insist that you are a citizen and have any kind of documentation they will let you in.

Thanks, all
Since it’s unlikely I can get even an expedited passport within the time left, we’ve decided to paddle the American side of the Great Lakes (lots to choose from, there), rather than risk being indefinitely exiled to the DMZ …

Thanks for all the input!


your source please?
And the last time you came back from Canada? Lessee for me it was last Monday.

We’ll find out. My wife was once
arrested over a sit-in in a Georgia congressman’s office, but the charge was dismissed. My record is clean. These things never were asked about in entries at major Canadian portals as recently as 2004. Maybe our Canadian tandem helped.

Last Year
We went last year, just before the passport requirement. We were held up for almost an hour each way. The Canadians were rather short with us and had the Russian Iron Curtain attitude. The Americans did the same background checks, but at least did it with a smile. It would have been much easier if we all had passports.

If you have any record, even decades old, and if they do the background bit, they will find out on both sides.

Could you please tell us what will
eventually happen if I should lose my passport in Canada and ask to re-enter the US based on my other ID? What will Canada do when I run out of funds and become a vagrant? What will the US do when they start getting calls from the offices of my congressman and senators? (And they WILL get calls.)

It is very easy to see that a flat refusal to admit an obvious US citizen, in the absence of evidence that he is “up to something,” is an action that has no logical conclusion. The citizen has no quick way to replace the passport, and Canada doesn’t want him hanging around while he runs out of resources. Is it not possible that border crossing officials are quietly doing the efficient thing, using available evidence to let people back in? Give us some true tales of Americans stranded at the border. How are they actually resolved?

I’m not interested in what happened when Americans showed up to re-enter without passports. There’s always a lot of official blustering then. I want to know what happened in the following days, when common sense set in.

Here is one way to deal with no-passport
situations when you need to re-enter the US.


If you are a dual/multiple citizen with US citizenship, or a recently naturalized greencard holder, you might not realize that you cannot enter the US with any passport but your US passport. If you try to return to the United States as a US citizen on a different country’s passport, airline security will probably decline to check you into your flight, instead referring you to the nearest embassy to get appropriate one-time travel documents or an emergency passport.

“This happened to me on a recent trip to Paris, France. I entered Paris using my Finland passport (European Union) with no trouble. However, returning home when asked if I were a US citizen I replied that I was, and was required to present my US passport. As I had lost it at home on the way over, I had to get an emergency passport from the US Embassy in Paris in Concorde Square. It only took 2 hours and $100, but I would have rather understood the requirements first and avoiding missing my scheduled flight.”

So this will work best if you are at a re-entry point where a US Consulate is readily available.

There are private firms offering passports with very quick turnaround, but I can’t rate them.

It looks as if one way to reduce the risk of being without a passport at the Canadian border is to back up your passport with a Passport Card. The card might be kept separately so both are unlikely to go astray on the same portage. We have passports but will try to get passport cards before we cross into New Brunswick in August.