New Passport Requirements for US/Canada Border Crossings

Canadians ready for new passport requirements

In a recent study, it appears that Canadians are more optimistic and prepared for the new US/Canada border requirements at land crossings into the United States than are their American counterparts.The new rule that is being implemented by the WHTI as of June 1, 2009 has been pushed back several times as the U.S. is concerned that not enough Americans will have valid identity documents and that the border crossing stations do not have adequate infrastructure to process tourists and business travelers quickly.  “We’re not as sure the Americans are ready for the imposition of their own deadline,” Prime Minister, Steven Harper said.“We believe that in Canada, we are pretty much ready for that deadline”

Washington has been implementing the new passport requirements for all travelers entering the U.S. over the past several years. However, Americans have not been as quick to embrace passport acquisitions, and the number of passport holders doesn’t even compare to Canadian holders.

Statistics show that nearly 75% of adult Canadians are a passport holders, whereas only 23% of adult Americans are passport holders and since the year 2000; .U.S. visits to Canada have dropped nearly 40% as a result of unclear document requirements.

Currently, as a result of a friendly border crossing agreement between Canada and the United States, all American citizens entering Canada by land or water are not required to present a valid passport. However, to enter Canada, the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA)   requires proof of identity and their U.S. citizenship or a an equivalent travel document such as a NEXUS card, a WHTI approved Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL), U.S. Passport Card, or a Free and Secure Trade (FAST)/Express Card.

New passport requirements for Americans traveling to Canada

With the WHTI being implemented as of June 1, 2009, American citizens who travel to Canada are now absolutely required to present a valid passport in order to successfully return home to United States. Even if you present all other approved travel documents without a passport, it will not suffice in accordance to the WHTI and may cause you difficulties at the Canada/US border. Americans are urged to start applying now for their passports as the passport offices are increasingly becoming backlogged.*

U.S. Citizens who are under the age of 16 will be able to present the original copy of their birth certificate or other proof of the U.S. Citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card.As for Canadians, once the full implementation of the WHTI has taken affect, Canadians will need to present one of the following WHTI- compliant documents in order to successfully cross the border into the United states and to return home to Canada:a Canadian passport;a NEXUS Card;a FAST Card or; a WHTI approved Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) that is expected to circulate Ontario early spring.

For more information about issues relating to entry to Canada or the US, contact Niren and Associates immigration lawyers at 416 410 7484.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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