To travel to Canada, most people need a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), but not both. In some cases, only a valid passport is required. The documents needed to travel from Washington State to Canada depend on the traveler's nationality/residency status and mode of travel. It's important to know which documents are needed well ahead of time to make sure the trip goes smoothly.
U.S. Citizen/Lawful Permanent Resident
To travel from Washington State to Canada, a U.S. citizen must carry photo I.D., such as a valid U.S. passport. (The Canada Border Services Agency recommends a passport because it is the only reliable and universally-accepted form of I.D. for international travel.) If she has a valid U.S. passport, she doesn’t need a Canadian passport, a Canadian visa or an eTA.
A lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (i.e., someone who has been granted the right to live in the U.S. indefinitely) needs an eTA to fly to, or transit through, a Canadian airport. She must also present a valid Green Card and a valid passport at check-in.
International (Non-U.S.) Visitor
Nationals from several countries need an eTA to board a flight from Washington to Canada, including those from Australia, Barbados, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan and Spain. However, these travelers do not need an eTA if they are entering Canada by land or sea, for instance, if they are driving from the U.S. or coming by bus, train or boat, including cruise ship.
Nationals from other countries, such as Afghanistan, Argentina, Belize, Columbia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Russia, South Africa and Turkey, need a visa to come to Canada by any mode of travel.
Students and temporary workers are subject to the same entry requirements for traveling into Canada. It's important to remember that a work permit or study permit is not the same as a visa. If someone is applying for his first permit to study or work in Canada, he will automatically be issued a visa or an eTA if he needs one, upon approval of the application.
When traveling to Canada, a student or worker should have his letter of introduction and valid passport or travel document. If he requires a visa, it must contain the visa sticker attached by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. If he requires an eTA and is flying into Canada from Washington, his passport must electronically link to his eTA.
If someone is eligible to work or study in Canada without a permit, he is considered a visitor and must meet the entry requirements for travelers from the country of which he is a citizen.
Canadian Citizen/Permanent Resident
Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, need a valid Canadian passport to travel to Canada. However, dual American-Canadians can travel with a valid Canadian or U.S. passport. A Canadian permanent resident (someone who has been given permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada, but is not yet a Canadian citizen) needs a valid permanent resident card or permanent resident travel document.
Children Traveling From Washington to Canada
Children under the age of 18 must have proper identification to travel from Washington state to Canada, for example, 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. Letters should include contact details for the children's parents or guardians, including their full names, addresses and telephone numbers.
It's advisable for parents or guardians entering Canada by land with a group of vehicles to arrive at the border in the same vehicle as their children or any minors they are accompanying.
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.