Can Green Card Holders Travel to Canada?

U.S. green card holders are considered permanent residents and can travel to Canada without a visa. However, if you are a green card holder, you may need additional documentation depending on how you travel to or through Canada. Flying has the most restrictions.

If you’re wondering what you need to do as a green card holder to travel to Canada or pass through it on your way to another country, we’ll give you all the details. Depending on what documents you have, your travel to or through Canada may be easier than you think.

Canadian flag flying in Vancouver
A Canadian flag flying in Vancouver. If you are a green card holder, you can travel to Canada with Electronic Travel Authorization from the Canadian government.

Traveling to Canada by Land or Sea Directly From the U.S.

If you are traveling by land or sea, the only documents you’ll need are your proof of U.S. permanent resident status (like a green card). You do not need a travel visa, nor be part of a tour group. This is the easiest way to get into Canada and get a taste of the travel advantages of full citizenship.

Flying Into or Through Canada Requires a U.S. Passport

Canada is a foreign country, and like all foreign countries, you will need a valid passport to travel through the air internationally. Since you are not an American citizen yet, you will need to have a valid passport from your home country to use Canadian airports. Green card holders cannot obtain U.S. passports.

Once you become a full U.S. citizen through naturalization, you can apply for a U.S. passport and use that instead of your current one. You also need one more piece of documentation. You must file an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) with the Canadian government.

What Is an Electronic Travel Authorization?

An Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is similar to a visa but for visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling by air to Canada. Similar to how other travel documents work, the eTA is linked to your passport and is valid for up to five years or when your passport expires, whichever comes first. 

Once you have an eTA, you can travel to Canada as often as you want and stay up to six months. The cost of getting an eTA is CAD $7. You will need your passport, an email address, and a credit or debit card. 

Note that eTA approval does not mean you can get into Canada! Green card holders must still present their green card and passport to the border officer and answer their questions.

A Common eTA Mistake

One mistake that can get you turned away at the border is to have an incorrect passport number on your eTA form. The number you need to use is at the top of the main passport information page. This is the page that has your photo on it. Use the eTA help guide for more information.

What Else Do I Need To Do to Travel to Canada?

The Canadian Government has an app and website called ArriveCAN. This tool gives you information about the current travel restrictions and requirements to enter and stay in Canada. You can also get informed on the latest pandemic travel restrictions.

As of this writing, Canada is requiring all travelers to enter their travel plans into ArriveCAN within 72 hours before they enter the country. This is likely to help with tracing any coronavirus cases. Please look at ArriveCAN for the latest information for green card holders traveling to Canada.

Make the Proper Arrangements Before You Travel to Canada

Even though you don’t need a visa to travel to Canada as a green card holder, you should still make proper arrangements to ensure that nothing goes wrong, such as:
● Ensuring that you’re your green card is valid for the duration of travel.
● If you’re currently waiting for your green card with a pending I-485, you will need to get advance parole (Form I-131) to travel outside the US.
● Have all of your travel documents and authorizations organized and secure before and during your trip.
As long as you take the proper steps, you can avoid many risks and any potential problems arising from traveling with your permanent resident status.

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