6 Things U.S. Travelers Should Know Before Visiting Canada - Trip Canvas (2024)

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Updated: July 06, 2023

When planning a trip to Canada, there are certain things that U.S. travelers need to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From entry requirements to insurance, it's important to be prepared before you leave the United States and enter Canada. To help you out, AAA Travel has put together a list of six key things that every U.S. traveler should know before visiting Canada.

1. Pack Your Passport

Do you need a passport to go to Canada? Yes, U.S. citizens will need a valid U.S. passport (with at least one blank page in it) to enter into Canada via international flights or by car. (Note that a passport is required for infants and children.) Your local can help with passport applications and photos. If you’re a member of the NEXUS trusted traveler program, remember to bring your membership identification card to get through priority lanes at airport checkpoints. For passengers on cruise vacations, it is generally recommended to pack a U.S. passport regardless of ship itinerary.

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2. Check the Holiday Calendar

The last thing you want to happen on vacation is to face unexpected holiday crowds or closures, so check the holiday calendar before planning your Canada trip. National and provincial Canada holidays include Family Day (second or third Mon. in Feb.), Good Friday (Fri. before Easter), Victoria Day (Mon. on or before May 24), Canada Day (July 1), Civic Holiday (first Mon. in Aug.), Labour Day (first Mon. in Sept.), Thanksgiving (second Mon. in Oct.), Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) and Boxing Day (Dec. 26).

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3. Know Your Credit Card PIN

Merchants in Canada generally use the Chip & PIN verification system for debit and credit card transactions, so you’ll need to know your 4-digit personal identification number (PIN) before making any purchases. While most travelers know their debit card PIN, some are caught unaware at hotels, restaurants and stores when a PIN is required for credit card purchases. Contact your bank well in advance of your trip for help with setting up or tracking down a credit card PIN. You should let the bank know about your upcoming travel plans, too.

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4. Add Travel Insurance

Some U.S. health care policies (including Medicare) won’t cover you in Canada, so ask your about adding travel insurance to your vacation packages. The cost of travel insurance is often minimal and can protect you in case of unforeseen accidents, medical emergencies, illness, lost baggage or even trip cancellations. Most policies require that you purchase a policy at least 14 days in advance of making a trip deposit, so book early.

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5. Make Sure Your U.S. Driver's License is Valid

No need to worry about (IDPs) when you visit Canada. For U.S. citizens, a valid U.S. driver’s license will suffice. In addition to your license, you will need proof of auto insurance; check with your insurance company before your trip to verify that your coverage extends to Canada. Depending on which province you’re visiting, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws. Check the AAA Digest of Motor Laws online or contact your local AAA club office for information.

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6. Bring Your AAA Card

Did you know your American Automobile Association (AAA) membership is honored in Canada? Through reciprocal arrangements with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), AAA members can use benefits like roadside assistance and while in Canada. Don’t forget to pack your AAA membership card, or use the AAA Mobile app to access your account information (cellphone roaming rates and data charges may apply).

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Start Your Next Vacation with AAA

AAA Travel provides peace of mind when you travel — before, during and after your vacation! Members enjoy the advantages of membership including exclusive benefits, map routing, savings with the AAA Discounts & Rewards® program as well as recommendations for AAA Diamond-designated hotels and restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. Let AAA provide the rest of your travel needs with AAA Travel Guides, the AAA Digital TourBook®, access to travel agents and counselors and travel insurance. Your next vacation starts with AAA — your complete travel solution. Visit AAA.com/Travel.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

6 Things U.S. Travelers Should Know Before Visiting Canada - Trip Canvas (2024)


What Americans should know when traveling to Canada? ›

6 Things U.S. Travelers Should Know Before Visiting Canada
  • Pack Your Passport. Do you need a passport to go to Canada? ...
  • Check the Holiday Calendar. ...
  • Know Your Credit Card PIN. ...
  • Add Travel Insurance. ...
  • Make Sure Your U.S. Driver's License is Valid. ...
  • Bring Your AAA Card.
Jul 6, 2023

What do I need to know about traveling to Canada for the first time? ›

10 Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Canada in Your First Visit
  • Get Travel Insurance.
  • Be Weather-Ready.
  • Check the Visa Requirements and Apply as Per Your Purpose.
  • Plan an Appropriate Budget to Visit Canada.
  • Canada Is Too Large to See in One Visit.
  • Opt For Driving Through Destinations in Canada.
Feb 20, 2024

What do I need to know about flying from US to Canada? ›

For all travellers entering Canada by air, land or marine mode:
  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not required.
  • Pre-board testing is not required.
  • COVID-19 pre-entry and arrival tests are not required.
  • Quarantine after you enter Canada is not required.
  • Using ArriveCAN is not required, but.

Does my AAA insurance cover me in Canada? ›

Does AAA work in other countries? Roadside services are available to AAA Members in Canada and many other parts of the world. Visit the website of the AAA-affiliated organization in the country you're planning to visit for information about coverage and benefits.

What can I not bring into Canada? ›

Restricted/prohibited goods

Firearms and weapons: You must declare all weapons and firearms at the CBSA port of entry when you enter Canada. Food, plants, animals and related products: All food, plants, animals, and related products must be declared. Food can carry disease, such as E. coli.

What can I bring into Canada from the US? ›

You can claim goods worth up to CAN$800 without paying any duty and taxes. You must have the goods with you when you enter Canada. You can bring back up to 1.5 litres of wine or 1.14 litres of alcoholic beverages or up to 8.5 litres of beer.

What do I need to prepare to travel to Canada? ›

Basic entry requirements
  1. have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
  2. be in good health,
  3. have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
  4. convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,

Can I use my debit card in Canada? ›

While Visa Debit cards are widely used in both Canada and the United States, there are some differences between the two countries in terms of how they are used and accepted. In Canada, Visa Debit cards are accepted at most merchants that accept Visa and they can also be used to withdraw cash from ATMs.

Do US citizens clear customs in Canada? ›

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) screens travellers landing in Canada at Pearson Airport. If you are arriving on a US or international flight, you will need to confirm your identity with CBSA and declare any goods that you are bringing into the country.

Do US citizens clear customs in Toronto? ›

Yes. In Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Halifax and Toronto Pearson airports, you will clear U.S. immigration and customs before you board your flight.

Where do you clear customs in Canada? ›

Port NameAddressPhone Number
Toronto Preclearance Lester B. Pearson International AirportP.O. Box 115 Toronto AMF Toronto, ON, Canada L5P 1A2(905) 676-2606 ext 120
Vancouver Preclearance Vancouver International Airport International Terminal - Level 33161 Grant McConachie Way Richmond, BC V7B 0A4(604) 278-7422
7 more rows
Mar 1, 2024

Does my auto insurance cover me in Canada? ›

An American car insurance policy works the same way in Canada as it does in the U.S. Your comprehensive car insurance coverage and auto collision coverage, for example, still apply to damage to your vehicle if you're in an accident while driving in Canada.

Does my US health insurance work in Canada? ›

Canada provides world-class hospitals and top-ranked health care in the event of a medical emergency. However, U.S. government health insurance plans do not pay for hospital costs, medical expenses or prescription drugs for visitors to Canada.

What is AAA called in Canada? ›

Alberta Motor Association (AMA)

The organization was founded in 1926 with 1400 members; original dues were $6.50. It is headquartered in Edmonton and is affiliated with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) and has more than 980,000 members as of November 2021.

Is it easy for Americans to visit Canada? ›

The U.S. and Canada share a border, which makes travel from one country to another accessible and relatively straightforward. Traveling to Canadian destinations is incredibly popular amongst U.S. travelers — almost 400,000 people cross the border every day.

What do you need to cross the Canadian border by car? ›

Ensure that you have proper identification for you and your family readily available. Acceptable forms of identification for entry into Canada include a passport, a NEXUS card and an enhanced driver's licence.

Do Americans need a Covid test to get into Canada? ›

Effective October 1, 2022, COVID-19 border entry restrictions were removed. In addition, testing, quarantine and isolation requirements were removed, regardless of citizenship and vaccination status.

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