What Documents Are Needed for Travel From Washington State to Canada?

Washington state borders the Canadian province of British Columbia.

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Documents, such as government-issued photo identification, are used to ensure visitors are legally entitled to enter Canada. Depending on a traveler's citizenship and the purpose of their visit, there are varying entry requirements. When crossing into Canada from Washington either by land, sea or air, documents must be presented to Canada Border Services Agency officers at the point of entry.

U.S. Visitors

Visitors must carry a passport; an enhanced driver's license or identification card; a NEXUS card where the program is available; a Free and Secure Trade card, where the service is available; or government-issued photo identification with a birth certificate, citizenship/naturalization certificate or Certificate of Indian Status. Legal U.S. residents must also present a green card or permanent resident card. Although a passport is not required to enter Canada, U.S. citizens traveling by air without a NEXUS card or Merchant Mariner document must present a passport when re-entering the U.S. Visas are not required for visits of up to 180 days.

International Visitors

In addition to a passport, citizens of certain countries may need to provide a visitor's visa. As of March 2011, citizens of 145 countries require visas. Visa are not required fo: citizens of most European Union countries, Australia, New Zealand and certain British overseas territories for stays of up to 180 days. Certain documents are also not accepted, including: non-biometric passports for Poland and Lithuania citizens; Somali-issued passports; non-machine readable Czech Republic passports; temporary South African passports; and provisional Venezuelan passports. Before visiting, travelers should visit the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for current visa requirements.


Children under the age of 18 must have proper Identification, such as a birth certificate, passport, citizenship card, permanent resident card or certificate of Indian Status. Minors traveling alone must present proof of citizenship, such as a passport. Parents with shared custody should carry copies of legal custody documents and a notarized letter from the other parent authorizing travel out of the country. Anyone who is not the parent or guardian of a child should also have notarized, written permission from the parents or guardians. Authorization letters should include contact details for the children's parents or guardians.

Students and Temporary Workers

Anyone entering Canada for purposes of working or studying on a temporary basis must meet applicable entry requirements. A work permit is required for most temporary jobs in Canada. Anyone wishing to study in the country must apply for a study permit or a temporary resident visa. These documents must be presented at the border. Applications for work and study permits must be made before traveling to Canada and can be requested online at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.


Travelers intending to immigrate to Canada must present a Canadian immigrant visa and Confirmation of Permanent Residence for each family member traveling with them. A valid passport or other travel document for each family member must also be presented. In addition, two copies of a detailed list of all the personal or household items that are being brought into Canada and any other items arriving at a later date must be provided. Additional documents, such as birth certificates, may also be requested at the border.


Canadian citizens entering the country must present documents to prove their identity. The Government of Canada recommends that citizens use a valid Canadian passport when traveling. Other documents may be presented, including: an enhanced driver's license or identification card; NEXUS card, where the program is available at a border crossing; Free and Secure Trade card, when using FAST lanes when available at a border crossing; a Canadian citizenship card; a Certificate of Indian Status, or a birth certificate in combination with government-issued photo identification

About the Author

John Costa covers travel, public policy and consumer issues for various online publications. He has also worked as a government adviser since 2005, developing policies and programs. Costa holds a B.A. in history and political science from the University of Toronto, as well as an M.A. in comparative politics from the University of York in England.

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