Immigration Fun Facts: Canadian Entry Without A Passport


There have been so many changes over the years that sometimes it’s hard to keep up with it all.  That is particularly true in regard to the U.S/Canadian border.  As a Seattleite I recall driving back home and crossing the border with a U.S. identification. I was never asked any questions and never had to present a passport.

Today the rules have changed a bit, specifically for flights to the USA from Canada – that manner of entry requires a passport. Airlines are very particular about this rule and CBP pre boarding checks normally make this requirement very clear.

However, if you are trying to cross at a land port of entry you are in luck because they do have some options.  To enter the USA without a passport a Canadian can present:

  • Enhanced Canadian ID or DL;
  • Birth certificate & regular ID;
  • NEXUS ID card; or
  • FAST or SENTRI program vehicle

If you happen to be a member of a tribe, then a Tribal ID card will also do the trick.

So keep in mind that land ports of entry have different rules and if you still don’t have that machine readable passport you can still enter the U.S. with one of the documents above.

Quick note, if you are going to cross the border and apply for a TN visa at the port of entry, you must have a passport for that process!