I am a British Citizen who will be travelling to Canada and then onwards to USA by train and then returning to Canada by air. I am aware that I do not need an ESTA to enter the USA by train but do I need any documents when traveling back from the USA to Canada by Air? I will be flying home to the UK a few days after returning to Canada. I am only spending a week in Canada and a week in the USA.

To clarify, the travel plans looks like this:

  • Fly UK to Canada
  • Train from Canada to USA (Vancouver to Seattle)
  • Domestic flight from Portland to San Francisco
  • Flight from San Francisco to Vancouver
  • Return to UK from Canada


So, after taking the trip I can confirm that you can travel by train from Canada to the states without an ESTA but it's a bit of a hassle (paperwork, fingerprints, payment must be in USD) and it would have been easier to just get an ESTA. Returning to Canada from the US wasn't an issue.


2 Answers 2



Firstly, note that you'll likely be required to get a visa at the border with the US, even though you're in the visa-waiver countries for ESTA - it apparently only counts for flights, or within 90 days of a flight into the US if arriving by land(!) as I found out, twice.

However, leaving the country there's not even a passport check - you simply need to have the legal (visa or other requirements depending on your passport) for entering the next country. As the country for you is Canada, and you're a British citizen, you're visa exempt for travel to Canada.

Documents-wise, you'll need your passport and travel documents (flights etc) and it's handy to have any details of your accommodation or other travel plans, in case you get asked for them at any of the borders.

  • (+1) Isn't there a card to hand in or something like that when you enter or leave through a land border?
    – Relaxed
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 16:07
  • @Relaxed Yup, the I-94 and it's a pain in the butt trying to get a Canadian official to accept it, or even Greyhound, despite what the linked page says about it.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 16:11
  • There are no longer paper I-94's in use
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Mar 14, 2016 at 5:56
  • @andrewmh20 at land borders there are (as recently as a few months ago, I had to use one!)
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 8:40
  • @MarkMayo what if you arrive by air and leave by land?
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 8:54

I'm a British Citizen who have travelled between Canada and USA.

The ETSA is only for flights as you rightly said.

If I drive through the border, then I must stop at USA Immigrations and pay $6, fill in quick form, and have my fingerprints taken. I have not done this via the train so I don't know how that part works.

As for entering Canada, shouldn't be too much hassle especially if you have a return ticket home to show that you are simply a tourist.

Best of luck!


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