We are a married couple with 2 children, 7 and 10 years old. All of us are US citizens. Both my spouse and I have US passports. The children currently have no passports or other photo IDs.

What documents do the children need to cross the border by car from the United States into Canada and back?


1 Answer 1


Under the age of 16, a state-issued birth certificate (for each child, obviously) is adequate for Canadian and US citizens to cross the land border in either direction, when travelling with both parents in the same vehicle.

As per the comment below, Canada appears to have de-emphasized the minimum acceptable documents for minors. If you believe the US government, this is what they say:

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

Children under 16 only need proof of U.S. citizenship.

  • 1
    That source only covers entry to the US. Do you have a source for entry to Canada?
    – user102008
    Commented May 4 at 5:49
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    @user102008 Only a US source. As another posting has noted they appear to have de-emphasized the minimum requirements without actually changing them. Commented May 4 at 6:21
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    One thing I've never understood with using a birth certificate as proof of citizenship when crossing a border: How do you prove that the birth certificate presented belongs to the person trying to cross the border and how does a birth certificate prove current citizenship? Even if a person was born as a US citizen, the citizenship may have been renounced. Commented May 4 at 9:40
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Well, the same applies to the application of the passport and photo IDs itself; there is no centralized citizenship database in US and Canada, instead the system is built on secondary documents from states (which in turn relying on private documents) and references.
    – xngtng
    Commented May 4 at 14:54
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo Border officers do conduct investigations if you show up without a photo ID, but in most cases, the child would be travelling with their parents named on the certificate with a photo ID, and the concern is by far about kidnapping rather than illegal entry. Renunciation is an explicit process that governments would have a record of.
    – xngtng
    Commented May 4 at 15:00

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