Visas and Officialdom
Entry for U.S. Citizens
Citizens and permanent residents of the United States are required to carry a passport for both entry to Canada and for reentry to the United States. At press time, the U.S. government was developing alternatives to the traditional passport. For further information, see the website http://travel.state.gov/travel. For current entry requirements to Canada, check the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (www.cic.gc.ca).
Entry for Other Foreign Visitors
All other foreign visitors entering Canada must have a valid passport and may need a visitor permit or Temporary Resident Visa depending on their country of residence and the vagaries of international politics. At present, visas are not required for citizens of the United States, British Commonwealth, or Western Europe. The standard entry permit is for six months, and you may be asked to show onward tickets or proof of sufficient funds to last you through your intended stay. Extensions are available from Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices in Vancouver and Calgary. This department’s website (www.cic.gc.ca) is the best source of the latest entry requirements.
Visitors are allowed to bring in personal items that will be used during a visit, such as cameras, fishing tackle, and equipment for camping, golf, tennis, photography, and so on. You can also bring the following into Canada duty free: reasonable quantities of clothes and personal effects, 50 cigars and 200 cigarettes, 200 grams (7 oz.) of tobacco, 1.14 liters (1.2 quarts) of spirits or wine, food for personal use, and gas (normal tank capacity). Pets from the United States can generally be brought into Canada, with certain caveats. Dogs and cats must be more than three months old and have a rabies certificate showing date of vaccination. Birds can be brought in only if they have not been mixing with other birds, and parrots need an export permit because they’re on the endangered species list.
Handguns, automatic and semiautomatic weapons, and sawn-off rifles and shotguns are not allowed into Canada. Visitors with firearms must declare them at the border; restricted weapons will be held by customs and can be picked up on exit from the country. Those not declared will be seized, and charges may be brought. It is illegal to possess any firearm in a national park unless it is dismantled or carried in an enclosed case. Up to 5,000 rounds of ammunition may be imported but should be declared on entry.
On reentering the United States, if you’ve been in Canada more than 48 hours, you can bring back up to US$400 worth of household and personal items, excluding alcohol and tobacco, duty free. If you’ve been in Canada fewer than 48 hours, you may bring in only up to US$200 worth of such items duty free.
For further information on all customs regulations, contact Canada Border Services Agency (204/983-3500 or 800/461-9799, www.cbsa.gc.ca).
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition