What do i need to travel to Canada as a US permanent resident?
January 31, 2012 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Visiting Toronto from the US as a green card holder, anything I need to know?

I am planning to visit Toronto in March (yay!). I have a valid green card and driver's license, and I have read the official page regarding visitor visas, which says I don't need a visitor visa if I am a US resident.

However, I have some questions:

Is it true it's better not to fly? Should I go by train? It's cheaper anyway, is it also less horrible when it comes to customs?

Will I need any other documentation besides a license and a green card? I have my country's passport, but it will expire like 2 weeks after the trip, should I take it anyway?. My passport is from a country that requires a visa to enter Canada, so it seems pretty useless to show it.

Can I get back into the US with just my green card? browsing forums, it looks like this could be a problem. Will I need anything else to get back in the country?

I will appreciate any tips and anecdotes. Thank you!
posted by Tarumba to Travel & Transportation around Canada (11 answers total)
Best answer: As far as I know, it is now required to have a passport no matter how you enter Canada from the US and vice versa (be it via plane, train, or automobile). And most places won't let you enter on a passport that isn't valid for at least 3 months from the date of your trip, so you should definitely look into renewing your passport ASAP.

Here's a quote for you: "Identification is necessary for travel between the United States and Canada. Effective June 1, 2009 all travelers must travel with a Passport, Passport Card, Enhanced Driver's License or Enhanced ID Card (EDL/ID). Children under age 16 will be able to enter with proof of citizenship, no photo ID required.

If you are not a United States or Canadian born citizen you will be required to have a passport and possibly a Visa. Airlines will require a passport for all travelers. Refer to the list of websites below for current visa requirements." From here.
posted by Grither at 9:27 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It couldn't hurt to carry your passport with you, even if you don't have to show it. If you are flying, you must have a passport.

Clearing customs on the train can take two hours if it's full. This can mean an extended period of time where you are not allowed to leave your seat. This is one of the major advantages of flying, actually—someone who takes a long time at customs doesn't delay everyone else.

Also, just so you know, you will clear U.S. customs in Toronto if you fly (unless for some reason you're using the Toronto Island airport).
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:33 AM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: so I would need a valid passport that will be valid for at least 3 months and a green card?
posted by Tarumba at 9:33 AM on January 31, 2012

Best answer: Also see this page and this page I found from your link. Specifically:
"To visit Canada, you must:
-have a valid travel document, such as a passport;"

A green card and/or driver's license isn't a valid travel document.
posted by Grither at 9:34 AM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: I think I'm getting confused with "valid passport" and having a visa. Can I have a valid passport without applying for a visa and just show up with it and my resident card?
posted by Tarumba at 9:40 AM on January 31, 2012

Best answer: Yes, a valid passport just means it hasn't expired.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:46 AM on January 31, 2012

I don't understand why in questions like these, the OP does not mention the actual country their passport is from?? It makes a *big* difference.

If your passport is from a modern European country, border crossing will be relatively quick and painless.

Japan/Taiwan/HKG - relatively pain free and quick

From China & Southeast Asia, excluding Hong Kong, much more scrutiny (hour or longer).

From Latin America - further scrutiny, could be longer depending on country (Argentinaa/less, Guatemala/more

From the Middle East / India / Pakistan and such - much much more scrutiny (multiple hours possible with possible border refusal)
posted by Kruger5 at 11:39 AM on January 31, 2012

Best answer: As to flying vs. driving/taking the train across the border--I've done both quite a few times and always had the least hassle (and seen others getting the least hassle) when flying. Admittedly my experience has mostly been entering Quebec and I think the Quebecois immigration guys are particularly nasty, but I've never once come across the Quebec border by bus without seeing someone prevented from getting back on the bus--and in every case bar one that person was a visible minority (and the one other case involved someone who was dressed in a pretty hippy-ish manner). In several of those cases I would hear enough of what they were saying to be pretty convinced that there was nothing out of order with their papers. Other visible minorities might make it back onto the bus, but they'd have all their luggage tossed and be subject to some pretty extensive and hostile questioning--despite clearly having all the right paperwork.

One of the problems of entering by land is that not letting you in is really, really easy; it's no skin off their nose, they just tell you to hop off the bus or hop off the train or whatever. When you enter by air you're already at the airport. It's more fuss all round for everyone to kick you back out of the country. That's not to say that they won't, of course, if they have reason to do so--but I think if all your paperwork is in order, there's more of a gravitational pull towards passing your through at the airport than at the border. YMMV, of course.
posted by yoink at 1:10 PM on January 31, 2012

There are two aspects to your questions 1. Getting into Canada. 2. Getting back into the US. I don't know what the deal is with 1. because I come from a country where I don't need a visa to enter Canada (I'm a green card holder too), but I have always taken a passport and green card.

In terms of getting back into the US, border control will want to see your passport and green card. I wouldn't think they would care if your passport is about to expires, since you are coming back to the US and your green card is good.
posted by Joh at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I will go to my embassy to renew my passport this week.
posted by Tarumba at 3:27 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: Got back from Toronto a couple of weeks ago. They let me in with a renewed passport and my green card, but they asked for a marriage license, too (which I had thanks to yoink's advice). Other than a bit of grumpiness, it was pretty straightforward.

thank you all! I am now in love with Toronto.
posted by Tarumba at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2012

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