Traveling Canada ‐ A Guide
By traveling Canada, you are introduced to a country filled with welcoming people, inspiring art and culture, and an incredibly diverse landscape. Canada doesn’t always get the attention it deserves for all the wonderful treasures this region has to offer. From majestic and historic cities like Toronto and Montreal to natural wonders including the Pacific Rim National Forest and Vancouver Island, there is always plenty to see and explore. Canada also offers great skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities for the adventuresome traveler. If you’re considering exploring our northern neighbor, here’s a guide to the basics of traveling Canada.
- Entrance and exit paperwork: For entry into Canada, adult Americans must present both proof of identity and proof of citizenship. A passport can cover both of these requirements, as can a driver’s license and birth certificate. However, it’s important to note that adults traveling by air are required to present a passport upon reentry into the U.S. Check with the State Department for current requirements for reentry when traveling by car. Minors need only show proof of citizenship, unless they are traveling with only one parent, a grandparent, or another adult. In this case, because of concerns over abduction, proof of custody or written permission from the non-traveling parent(s) is also required.
- Transportation: If you’re going to be traveling in Canada and plan on sticking to major metropolitan areas, then you’ll have lots of options in terms of public transportation. However, if you want to explore the countryside and/or plan on traveling between provinces, then your best bet may be to travel by car. As with any country, Canada has its own traffic laws, some which are similar to the U.S. and some that differ. Visit the consulate website ahead of time so you can review these rules before your trip.
- Money and banking: Canada uses the Canadian dollar, and thus, you will be dealing with an entirely different money system. Many businesses will accept U.S. currency, but more often than not, you’ll end up paying a high rate of exchange. Fortunately, obtaining Canadian dollars while in Canada at reasonable exchange rates is made much easier for Americans, as many U.S. ATM cards can be used to get converted Canadian funds from your U.S. bank account. It’s also important to note that while Canadian sales tax is included in any sales transaction, you may be eligible to have some of those taxes refunded. Check with the U.S. consulate or State Department for details, and be sure to hang onto your receipts.
- Systems of measurement: Like many foreign countries, Canada uses the metric system for units of measurement including volume, distance, and temperature. Particularly if you’re planning on traveling Canada by car, it may be a good idea to bring along some kind of converter or even install an app on your phone.