I see a post from five years ago:

"Entry into Canada: Canadian law requires that all persons entering Canada carry both proof of citizenship and proof of identity. A valid U.S. passport, passport card, or NEXUS card satisfies these requirements for U.S. citizens. Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship."

Does my infant child need a US passport to fly to Canada and back?

However, after I searched all the linked sites and other official sites, I found no official sources for this claim.

Question: can a newborn in the US enter Canada through both land and air with a birth certificate only?

  • 1
    I believe they've changed some of the requirements, but I don't know whether this was one of them.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 16 at 14:48

3 Answers 3


By land: Likely successful but not guaranteed

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, regardless of age, are technically exempt from passport requirements under s. 52(2) of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations. Legally, there is no passport requirement for U.S. citizens.

However, you must satisfy to the immigration officer that you are in fact a U.S. citizen, and only a valid U.S. passport or NEXUS card or enhanced Driver's Licence issued to a U.S. citizen is definitive proof of that for Canada. With this in mind, Canadian government has decided to not publicize the fact anymore and generally recommend to always have a passport, even in absolute wordings that may be in fact contrary to what the law says. Unlike for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, the Canadian government is generally under no obligation to help a foreign national to establish identity and citizenship for purpose of entry.

CBSA routinely admits U.S. citizens without a valid passport (recently expired passport is generally not a problem), sometimes even on oral declaration alone; however, they also routinely deny entry to people without a valid passport. For children, U.S. birth certificates is usually acceptable to CBSA as proof of citizenship. It is an exercise of discretion, children are generally considered low-risk when travelling with their families, but other factors (e.g. whether the child is travelling with family with the same last name, whether the child looks older or younger, the supposed purpose of travel) may cause the officer to exercise greater scrutiny (e.g. more questions on the identity, requesting other documents, and potentially denying entry).

By air: Unlikely

While the law governing the admission of foreign nationals is mostly the same for land and air border, air travel has an additional layer of regulation and document verification. Air travel is subject to security regulations, which for Canada include passport (or NEXUS card) requirement for any one looking 18 years of age or older. Additionally, the airlines will also check the documents to avoid being responsible for the removal costs if Canada denies entry. You are likely to be denied boarding with birth certificate alone.


The information about children under 16 only needing a proof of US citizenship is still there on the official US DoS website.

In contrast, the official Canadian website is very terse; it only says that "U.S. citizens must carry proper identification such as a valid U.S. passport.". It makes no mention of any other accepted documents (the NEXUS and FAST cards are mentioned elsewhere).

However, I managed to find more detailed information at two additional sources:

  1. RJ Immigration Law firm
  2. Tripsavvy

Both of these sources confirm that US citizens under 16 only need to show a proof of citizenship. The latter says that it only applies to travel by land and sea (not by air) and only if the child is travelling with their parents.

My $0.02: It seems that children with US citizenship can indeed enter Canada without a passport, but you can end up spending a lot more time at the border checkpoint. Take that into account when planning your trip. However, I wouldn't attempt air travel to Canada with just a child's birth certificate. Even if it was perfectly legal, airlines can and sometimes do have stricter requirements than mandated by law, and check-in desk agents can make mistaken decisions. The last thing you want is to be denied boarding because of that.

  • I like your answer but the other answers below seem to claim that a passport is necessary for air-travel.
    – dodo
    Commented Mar 31 at 20:56
  • @dodo Yes, I wasn't sure of that at the time of writing, but nonetheless my answer discourages the OP from attempting to fly from the US into Canada without a passport. Commented Apr 1 at 10:59

The US Government requires all US citizens to carry a valid passport when traveling internationally by air (source):

U.S. citizens (including infants and children) departing from or entering the United States by air are required to present a valid U.S. passport to board an international flight.

Traveling by land/sea is a bit less restrictive (same source):

U.S. citizen children ages 15 and under arriving by land or sea from Canada or Mexico can present an original or copy of their U.S. birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department of the birth State), an original or official replacement Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240), or original Naturalization Certificate. Newborns whose official U.S. birth certificate is not yet received can travel by land or sea using the hospital-issued birth certification.

So even before checking the requirements on the Canadian side, the answer to your question:

Question: can newborn in US enter Canada through both land and air with birth-certificate only?

Is "no".

  • "U.S. citizens (including infants and children) departing from or entering the United States by air are required to present a valid U.S. passport to board an international flight": this isn't actually true, at least not for dual citizens who have a non-US passport to present for a flight departing the US, unless there has been a recent change in policy or administrative procedures.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 1 at 15:00
  • @phoog are you arguing with the CBP here?
    – littleadv
    Commented Apr 1 at 15:57
  • I'm not arguing with CBP; I'm saying that the linked article is incorrect. It doesn't agree with statutory law or federal regulations, and it doesn't reflect the actual practice and procedures of CBP nor of airlines who operate flights departing from the US.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 1 at 16:46
  • @phoog so the CBP is wrong, and you're right? Pretty presumptuous. Here's the federal regulations for your education.
    – littleadv
    Commented Apr 1 at 17:48
  • @phoog is that you in the linked question? - "<at>CannonFodder the airline won't let her board a flight to the US without a passport. – phoog Nov 16, 2018 at 22:37"
    – littleadv
    Commented Apr 1 at 17:57

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