U.S. Permanent Residents Can Visit Canada without a Visa

If you are a U.S. permanent resident, you don’t have to apply for a visa in order to visit Canada. Even if you hold a passport from a country whose citizens are required to present a visa to enter Canada, all you need is your green card or other evidence that can prove your U.S. permanent residence.

Below is an excerpt from the Canadian immigration authority’s website with regard to Visitor Visa Exemptions:

persons lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence who are in possession of their alien registration card (Green card) or can provide other evidence of permanent residence.

Canada Visitor Visa
If you are staying in the United States under a non-immigrant status, such as F-1, B-2 or H-1, you do need to obtain a visitor visa before travelling to Canada, if your country is on the list that requires visas. You may have heard of the “30-day rule (Automatic Revalidation),” but don’t confuse it with entering Canada because it is only referring to your return to the United States.

If you are already a U.S. citizen, you don’t need a visa to visit Canada or a long list of other countries. The Department of State publishes extensive country-specific information, including entry/exit requirements, for U.S. passport holders planning to travel abroad.

Updated June 23, 2013:

This post was originally written to discuss visa requirements for U.S. permanent residents visiting Canada. From the comments below, however, it seems more readers have questions about passports, especially expired passports.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), if you are a U.S. permanent resident, AND you are traveling to Canada directly from the United States, you don’t even need a passport as long as you can prove your identity and status. Your valid green card (or valid I-551 stamp on your passport) is sufficient proof of U.S. permanent residence.

However, if you are traveling to Canada from another country other than the U.S. you will be required to have a valid passport, even if you have possession of a green card.

US Green Card US Admission Stamp I-551 Stamp

Confused? Let’s summarize: There are three pieces of documents we’re talking about here – visa, green card and passport.

  • If you have a U.S. green card, you don’t need a visa to visit Canada.
  • If you have a U.S. green card, and travel to Canada directly from the U.S., you don’t need a passport either.
  • If you have a U.S. green card, and travel to Canada from another country, you will need a valid passport, but you don’t need a visa.

Having said that, we strongly recommend that you always carry a valid passport for international trips. It is the only universally-accepted document that proves your identity. Even for the limited case discussed here where you are not required to have a passport, the Canadian government still suggests that you carry your passport nonetheless. You’re taking on unnecessary risks by not having a valid passport with you while traveling.

U.S. permanent residents

Permanent residents of the United States may travel to Canada from the United States or Saint-Pierre and Miquelon without passports, travel documents or visas provided they produce satisfactory evidence of their identity and status. However, if these persons travel to Canada from any other part of the world they require passports (or travel documents) and are visa-exempt (provided they can substantiate their status as a U.S. permanent resident). – Source: Canada Border Services Agency: Guide for Transporters

From the same document, Appendix I, item 11:

11. U.S. Permanent Resident Card

Indicates permanent resident status in the United States. Holders do not require a passport or temporary resident visa when travelling directly from the United States to Canada.

Posted in Green Card, Travel, Visa
58 comments on “U.S. Permanent Residents Can Visit Canada without a Visa
  1. TravelDocumentHolder says:

    Hi, my husband and I have I-485 pending. It’s the adjustment of status application, it’s been approved, however, we are waiting for the date to become current to receive Green Cards. He also has an EAD. We both have I-131 Travel Documents to be able to return to the US. We have Russian and Indian passports. Do we need to have Canadian Visas if we want to go to Niagra Falls for a couple of days and visit friends in Toronto? Will we be treated as “greencard holders” or as citizens of Russia and India for the purpose of entering Canada? Thank you.

  2. Slava says:

    Hi,

    I am an asylee (nationality Russian) and I hold US Travel Document (issued by USCIS and valid for one year). I will be applying for a green card next year but as of now i have no proof of permanent residency except asylum grant letter from Immigration Judge.
    My question is: do i need to have a visa to be able to travel in Canada? If not, what documents do I need to show on the border?

    Thank you!

  3. Gambiano says:

    If you’re an asylee and applying for permanent resident status next year, you have to remain in the U.S for one whole year. So don’t travel outside U.S.A.

  4. Harris says:

    Hi,
    I want to visit canada, but my passport expired 8month already, is my u.s. permanent resident(green card) enough or do i need another document to show in the boarder?

  5. IR_Blog says:

    Here is an online questionnaire from the government of Canada that will help you determine what documents you will need in order to visit Canada: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ctc-vac/cometocanada.asp

  6. aletha says:

    If agUS permanent residence is going to visit Canada, how long she stay there. thanks

  7. miki says:

    Thank you for your update. It’s really helpful.

    However, if I traveled from another country other than the USA, for instance, China, even though the authority says that “if you are a holder of US green card and you only need a passport and green card to get into the country…”, would that be possible that a certain boarder service officer still ask me for a canada visa otherwise would not let me pass?

    Thank you.

  8. IR_Blog says:

    Well, the border officials have the final say to either grand you admission or deny it. Even if you have the proper visa (in addition to your green card and passport), it is still “possible” that they wouldn’t let you in. The question is what are the chances.

    Unless there is a specific reason to be concerned, I personally wouldn’t worry about it. I would probably print out the official document and carry it with me just in case.

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