My wife and I are planning a trip to the US in April. We are UK citizens, so will be travelling under the ESTA program. While in the States we will primarily be staying with a friend of ours who is a US citizen.

One place we plan to visit is Niagara Falls.

Our US friend has suggested taking a day trip over to the Canadian side "as that's where all the fun stuff is". However, the wife is against this, as she has been warned by some friends that this causes issues when re-entering the US. According to her friends, there have been a few cases where UK citizens have been refused re-entry to the US after doing a day trip like this, as it violates ESTA rules.

Is this true? Is it ok to take a day trip to Canada, and if not, what rule does this violate? Is there a way around it?

Or should we just make do with the views from the US side?

  • 5
    Unless you're smuggling something, there's zero chance of being refused reentry to the US (provided you still have some time left on your 90 days' visa-free stay, AKA I-94). Commented Feb 26 at 14:06
  • 1
    Not what you asked about, but there will be a total solar eclipse that will be visible on April 8 from Niagara Falls - you should take this into account for your trip planning. (Maybe you already know this and that's why you're taking a trip to the US in April.) Commented Feb 26 at 22:01
  • @MichaelLugo thanks Michael, thats exactly why we are travelling :-) We will be watching from my friends house in Cleveland. Commented Mar 1 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


When you travel under the Visa Waiver Program (which most people call "using an ESTA"), you get an I-94 when you enter the US, which specifies an end date, normally 90 days later.

Normally, if you exit the US and come back later, you get a new I-94, with 90 days from the new admission (but there are caveats, see below).

However, when you travel for a short duration to neighbouring countries (Mexico, Canada) and adjacent islands (islands of the Caribbean) and come back before the end of the I-94, you get re-admitted under the original I-94. It's as if you had never left the US: you get the 90 days originally granted, and not more.

So no, there is no problem with that.

The issue your wife may have heard of is about people thinking they can get 90 days, travel to Canada shortly before the end of those 90 days, come back, and get 90 more days nearly consecutively (a so-called "visa run"). This usually doesn't work:

  • If one comes back before the 90 days are over, they are likely to grant you only the remaining days of the original I-94 (they can grant a new I-94 if they want, with either the full 90 days or only a few days, but that's their decision)
  • If one comes back after that, they are likely to refuse entry, or allow only a few days, as you are not supposed to use successive or repeated visits to live in the US. The usual rule of thumb of that is that you need to stay out about as much as you stayed in.

In your case, as long as your total trip (US + Canada + US) stays within the regular 90 days, there is no issue at all.

Note however that if you travel to Canada by plane, you will need a Canadian eTA.

  • I'm pretty sure that "a day trip over to the Canadian side" is not air travel.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 27 at 12:05
  • 3
    @phoog That's my impression too, but better safe than sorry :-)
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 27 at 12:12
  • Thankyou, much appreciated. Although the wife is still against the idea and needs some persuading... I might leave her in the US and cross over myself :-) Commented Mar 1 at 9:58

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