The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is new U.S. legislation that requires all travelers carry a valid passport or other appropriate secure document, or combination of documents that establish citizenship and identity when traveling to the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.
Since January 23, 2007, anyone traveling by air between the United States and Canada is required to present a valid passport or NEXUS card (when used at designated airports) to enter or re-enter the United States.
As of June 1, 2009, a valid passport OR one of the following documents is mandatory for any person over the age of 16 traveling between the United States and Canada by LAND or SEA/WATER (including cruises and ferries):
- U.S. Passport Card (not valid for international air travel)
- A NEXUS or FAST/EXPRES Card
- State or Province-issued Enhanced Driver’s License (not valid for international air travel)
As of June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizens under the age of 16, or under the age of 19 if travelling with a school, religious, or other youth group, may present a birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Canadian Citizenship Card or a naturalization certificate. Birth certificates can be an original, photocopy, or certified copy.
What is Nexus?
NEXUS is a joint program between the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that expedites the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States.
How do I get a Nexus card?
To become a member in the NEXUS program, you must submit an application and go through a registration process, satisfy the eligibility criteria, be admissible in Canada and the United States, and pass risk assessments by both countries.
If you are approved to participate in NEXUS, you will receive a membership identification card to use when entering Canada or the United States at all participating NEXUS air, land and marine ports of entry.
More detailed information on the WHTI can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.
Persons visiting from countries other than the United States may require visitor visas. Check with the nearest Canadian Consulate well in advance of travel. A list of applicable countries can be found here. Other regulations apply if an extended stay, work or certain types of business activity are contemplated.
As of July 16, 2009, Mexican visitors require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada. Please apply at the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.
Crossing the Canadian Border with Children
Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents. It is also recommended that they have a letter of authorization from the other custodial parent to take the child on a trip out of the country. Such a letter will confirm that the child is not being abducted or taken against his/her will. The parents’ full name, address and telephone number should be Included in the letter of authorization.
When travelling with a group of vehicles, parents or guardians should arrive at the border in the same vehicle as the children.
Adults who are not parents or guardians should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children. The permission letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or guardian can be reached.
CBSA officers watch for missing children, and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you.