Canada Border Crossing Information

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge Crossing.

Types of Identification, Handling misdemeanours, and Who To Talk to

Are you an American citizen planning a trip to Canada? We want to make sure you have all the information you'll need to cross the border. For information about what you can bring to Canada, firearms and weapons, you can find more information at the Algoma Country website

This article answers two of the most popular questions that Algoma staff are asked about crossing the border into Canada.

Do I need a Passport to cross the border?

Since June 2009, US citizens returning home from Canada by land, air or sea were required to provide one of these travel documents:

  • US Passport: Accepted for travel by land, sea and air.
  • US Passport Card: This limited-use travel document fits in a wallet and costs less than a passport. Only valid for travel by land and sea.
  • Enhanced Driver's License (EDL): Specifically designed for cross-border travel into the US by land and sea, several states and Canadian provinces/territories issue a special driver's license/identification document that denotes identity and citizenship.
  • Trusted Traveler Program Cards: NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST enrolment cards can speed your entry and are issued only to pre-approved low risk travelers. These are valid for travel by land and sea; the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk.


Find more information about applying for one these documents by visiting the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) website at

Have you or a traveler in your group been charged with a felony or misdemeanour?

If you've been convicted of drinking and driving, or any other criminal offence, there is important information you should know before trying to cross the Canadian border.

These are important things you'll need to know:

  • DUI / DWI or assault convictions: While DUI / DWI and assault charges are often considered a misdemeanour in the United States, these are considered criminal offences in Canada. A DUI / DWI or assault conviction may prevent you from crossing the border into Canada.
  • Offenses under the Wildlife Act: These do not usually render you inadmissible in Canada but any offense under a Federal Act may require that you have a permit to enter Canada.
  • Juvenile offenses: In most circumstances, convictions that occurred under 18 years of age will not affect your ability to cross the border.
  • Offenses committed while in Canada: If you are convicted of a criminal offense in Canada, you must apply for a pardon to seal that record. This can take up to one year.
  • Any non-Canadian who possess a criminal record may not be allowed to enter Canada.


  • Apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): This is valid for business and/or pleasure for a restricted amount of time. TRPs are generally awarded to those whose offences are less than 5 years ago. It's usually issued for a single visit but can sometimes be issued for longer duration or multiple visits. A TRP is at the discretion of immigration officials. However, there are some important things to know: you must declare your offence and know specifics of the offence when you arrive at the border (when/where/why), and in most cases the TRP admin fee is $200.00 Cdn. 
  • Apply for Rehabilitation: This document is awarded to those who have completed their sentence more than 5 years ago. This is a permanent approval valid for business or pleasure and never needs to be renewed. This application may take 4 to 10 months and is valid as long as the applicant does not re-offend.
  • For more detailed information visit

Anyone having only one misdemeanour, and no other offences of any kind, and completed their sentence more than 10 years ago, likely does not require a permit. However, entry into Canada is at the descretion of Canada Customs Officers.


For more information visit the Canada Border Services Agency website or call the Border Information Service (BIS) phone number at 1-506-636-5064 (long distance charges apply), 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday (except holidays). To speak directly to an Agent, press "0".

If you are a guest or a lodge owner, you can speak directly to someone over the phone about any of these border crossing issues. Please phone 1-800-665-5787 at the NOTO (Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario) office.


It's imporant to know that all US travelers entering into Canada are required by law to declare all food, plant and animal items (including by-products). There are regular adjustments made to requirements because of pest and disease situations.

There are two websites you should read before you pack for your trip, to ensure you follow rules and help ease wait times at the border:

To learn more about what you can and cannot bring into Canada, visit this page of the Canada Border Services Agency's website: Bring Goods Across the Border


You can order a Free Algoma Travel Guide at the website or phone toll free 1-800-263-2546. Our travel guide and website has everything you need to know about fishing, hunting, touring by motorcycle, RV or car, and canoeing, kayaking and hiking adventures in our region of Ontario. Our guide also contains information about our communities, shopping, dining and has a full business listing.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure this information is accurate but we cannot be held responsible for the information provided herein.

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