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My US passport took too long to be shipped to me, and it will arrive after I need to leave. Will I be able to cross the border from the United States to Canada with a birth certificate (copy) and a passport locator number?

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What is your nationality? You're a US citizen? – Bernhard Feb 22 '13 at 6:35
If you knew the time you had to travel why wouldn't you Expedite your renewal? And depending on your location you can get it the Same Day – Karlson Feb 22 '13 at 13:44

2 Answers 2

up vote 19 down vote accepted

If you are a US citizen, you can indeed cross into Canada using your birth certificate and a photo ID. For safety reasons, you may want to bring the original birth certificate, or at least a certified copy. If you are not a US (or Canadian) citizen or permanent resident, you cannot enter Canada without passport:

If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need a passport to enter Canada. However, you should carry proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship or naturalization, as well as photo identification. If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the U.S, you should bring your Permanent Resident Card with you.

However, depending on how you're travelling, you may have difficulties re-entering the US without a passport! These are the rules for US citizens coming back:

When returning to the United States from Canada, it is very important to note that all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States via air. For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document. The only exception to this requirement is for U.S. citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) who need only present a birth certificate (original, photocopy or certified copy), Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or naturalization certificate.

So if your passport is delayed, make sure it arrives at your place in Canada on time.

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"If you are not a US (or Canadian) citizen, you cannot enter Canada without passport" Unless you are a permanent resident. – user102008 Feb 28 '13 at 10:38
@user102008: indeed. Fixed. – Jonas Feb 28 '13 at 12:39
I looked at 22 C.F.R. part 53 (, and it makes no mention of an exception for people under 16, so I am not sure about the legal basis of that statement on the state department site – user102008 May 16 '13 at 5:05
Jonas is absolutely correct. Kids under 18 do not need an ID. However if they are between 16-18 I'd recommended a birth certificate or license for sure. – user20353 Sep 24 '14 at 12:10

While Jonas' answer is indeed the legal situation but note: there is no penalty for breaking this particular law and more importantly, no US citizen can be denied entry to the USA if said person can prove citizenship. This is more generic than the USA, this is one of the fundamental meanings of citizenship. A birth certificate is a good start, the more IDs you have, the better. Expect a long, painful process border crossing if you do it without a passport.

It's a whole another topic whether an airline would let you board on the grounds of "Oh, I will convince the border guards, no worries". You might need to fly to Toronto or Vancouver and get across on land. If you don't drive, then the easiest is probably the Windsor Tunnel Bus to Detroit. From Toronto, there's a VIA Rail three times a day to Windsor. There are no similar services in Vancouver, you'd need to walk a lot. Note this bolded note on the Tunnel Bus page:

Proof of citizenship is required when crossing the international Windsor-Detroit border.

Every other border crossing carrier I am aware of, BoltBus, Greyhound, Amtrak, Quickshuttle all wants a passport. Let's see Crossing from to Canada to the USA w/o passport on public transit? what else is possible.

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protected by RoflcoptrException May 21 at 6:06

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