AAA Travel Tips & Articles / 6 Things U.S. Travelers Should Know Before Visiting Canada

6 Things U.S. Travelers Should Know Before Visiting Canada

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By AAA Travel Editor Katie McPhee
August 28, 2018
Planning on making the trip across the border to our friendly northern neighbor? From entry requirements to tips on using your credit card, here are some things to keep in mind before you travel to Canada from the U.S.
Hand holding a US Passport
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Pack Your Passport
Do you need a passport to go to Canada? Yes, U.S. citizens will need a valid U.S. passport (with at least one blank page in it) to enter into Canada via international flights or by car. (Note that a passport is required for infants and children.) Your local AAA office can help with passport applications and photos. If you’re a member of the NEXUS trusted traveler program, remember to bring your membership identification card to get through priority lanes at airport checkpoints. For passengers on cruise vacations, it is generally recommended to pack a U.S. passport regardless of ship itinerary.
Calendar showing Victoria Day holiday in Canada
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Check the Holiday Calendar
The last thing you want to happen on vacation is to face unexpected holiday crowds or closures, so check the holiday calendar before planning your Canada trip. National and provincial Canada holidays include Family Day (second or third Mon. in Feb.), Good Friday (Fri. before Easter), Victoria Day (Mon. on or before May 24), Canada Day (July 1), Civic Holiday (first Mon. in Aug.), Labour Day (first Mon. in Sept.), Thanksgiving (second Mon. in Oct.), Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) and Boxing Day (Dec. 26).
Credit card being used in ATM machine
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Know Your Credit Card PIN
Merchants in Canada generally use the Chip & PIN verification system for debit and credit card transactions, so you’ll need to know your 4-digit personal identification number (PIN) before making any purchases. While most travelers know their debit card PIN, some are caught unaware at hotels, restaurants and stores when a PIN is required for credit card purchases. Contact your bank well in advance of your trip for help with setting up or tracking down a credit card PIN. You should let the bank know about your upcoming travel plans, too.
Paperwork showing travel insurance policy
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Add Travel Insurance
Some U.S. health care policies (including Medicare) won’t cover you in Canada, so ask your AAA travel advisor about adding travel insurance to your vacation packages. The cost of travel insurance is often minimal and can protect you in case of unforeseen accidents, medical emergencies, illness, lost baggage or even trip cancellations. Most policies require that you purchase a policy at least 14 days in advance of making a trip deposit, so book early.
Hand putting a key into a car door
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Make Sure Your U.S. Driver's License is Valid
No need to worry about International Driving Permits (IDPs) when you visit Canada. For U.S. citizens, a valid U.S. driver’s license will suffice. In addition to your license, you will need proof of auto insurance; check with your insurance company before your trip to verify that your coverage extends to Canada. Depending on which province you’re visiting, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws. Check the AAA Digest of Motor Laws online or contact your local AAA club office for information.
Girl on the phone checking a car engine
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Bring Your AAA Card
Did you know your American Automobile Association (AAA) membership is honored in Canada? Through reciprocal arrangements with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), AAA members can use benefits like roadside assistance and travel planning while in Canada. Don’t forget to pack your AAA membership card, or use the AAA Mobile app to access your account information (cellphone roaming rates and data charges may apply).