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, and Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if you’re flying to Canada. See updates below.

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.

Updated July 2019: Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

  • If you fly to Canada, you are expected to have an eTA in addition to your green card (or other evidence that can prove your U.S. permanent residency). You can apply for eTA online, and it usually takes a few minutes to get an approval. You will need a valid passport, a credit card to pay the application fee (7 Canadian Dollars for now), and an email address. At the point of entry, you will present your green card and the passport you used to apply for the eTA – no visitor visa is required.
  • If you travel to Canada by land or by sea directly from the U.S., you will only need to provide proof of your permanent resident status (such as your Green Card). No visa or eTA is required.

85 thoughts on “U.S. Permanent Residents Can Visit Canada without a Visa”

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Hello,
    I’m Russian citizen, however I’m US green card holder. Please advise if I do require visa to Canada.
    Thank you kindly,

  8. If one has green card as an asylee and a rentry permit do that person need to have a visa on passport too or green card and reentry permit us fine. Thanks

  9. hi,

    I am an indian having us permanent resident (green) card. now, I am in india. is it possible for me to go to Canada (Toronto) from india without any visa. I will leave from toroto in few days to new York. please help me in this, thank you in advance…

  10. Hello,
    I am a Saudi citizen with permanent resident status in the US. My green card is expired but I have (I797). Can I enter Canada? Or should I apply for a visa?

  11. Can I travel to canada by greyhound bus if I have a valid green card but my passport is expired? If yes ,am I going to have trouble with the US border to come back to United States?

  12. iam a us permanent residenc,iam a refugee from nepal and i have green card.i want to fly canada for few weeks.what i need to fly canada.?

  13. I just got married here last year and i got my conditinal greencard. can i travel to canada with my conditional GC? but my passport phillippines is not same on my greencard last name. what should i do? pls help!

  14. My mom is a US permanent resident, she’s planning to visit my sister in Canada. How long can she stay to Canada?

  15. hi i am non immgrant alien in united states my visa status id F-1 i am from india can i visit canada for one month as a tourist for one month and my frnd is staying in canada as a non immigrant

  16. Hi, I am green card holder and have valid passport from India. Can I fly directly to Canada without visa?

  17. Hi i am a green card holder in united states. Id like to know if i will still need the eTA permit to enter canada? I would be going to alaska and board the ship the same day i arrive on 7/11/2016 in vancouver. Thanks

  18. My parents are holder of a US Permanent Visa which is valid until 2025. But they are NO longer residing in US, they’re now living in the Philippines and are not planning to go back to USA very soon as they enjoy most their senior life here in the Philippines.

    My parents, plans to visit my brother to Canada. Do they need to secure a Canadian Visa if they want to travel to Canada as tourist?

    Your response is highly appreciated. Thanks.


  19. I have a friend who is a US resident but doesn’t have the green card physically (unable to locate it) what other envídence can we demostrate to show proof?

  20. I am a Canadian Citizen but have been living in the U.S. for several years (am a Permanent Resident). My question is: Are there any rules about how long I can stay in Canada (snowbird status?) before returning to the U.S.?

  21. Hi!

    Why can greencard holders enter the Canada but permanent residents of Canada can’t enter the US?

    As I understand both are just permanent residents of each country, so why is it more restricted for Canadian permanent residents?

    Thank you.

  22. I’m a permanent residence of the USA and would like to know if I need to complete an eAT application form to enter Canada?

  23. Hi my green card expired and i have my citizenship pending. Could I still travel to Canada? What would I need in order to travel

  24. i am a Canadian citizen living in us and have a resident alien card . When I was flying back from Regina to Phoenix by way of Calgary WestJet personnel insisted I need a passport to travel yet i had my resident alien card. I did not have a passport and I argued with them that they are wrong my green card is my required ID. It took the lady about 45 minutes on the phone before she got the answer I was correct them she had the nerve to tell me to purchase a passport in the future to make it easier on them. I told her to learn the rules like I just paid out over 500.00 to renew my green card why should I pay another $100.00 plus for a passport i don’t need? And this was just to travel from Regina to calgary! I didn’t have to go thru customs until Calgary so are Canadian citizens required to have a passport to fly from one Canadian city to another? That’s ridicoulous

  25. i am us greencard holder.i have not received my greencard till to day.i want to go to toronto to attend my sons marriage,i have i551 stamp valid up to may-20 on my passport.canadian immigration officer deny entry in canada on buffalo border.my sons marriage on 27 th. july.now what to do to go toronto.i have nj state id valid for one year.

  26. If the only reason your entry was denied was an expired I-551 stamp, you can try again now that you’ve received the actual green card. If there were other reasons, obviously you’d need to address them before heading to the border again. Good luck.

  27. Hello! I have a question about my dad’s travel. HE recently became US permanent resident and has the visa and stamp in his passport but hasn’t received physical green card yet. We plan to take a cruise to Alaska and Victoria BC is one of the stops. Will he be able to get on this cruise on the basis of the fact that he has his US permanent resident stamp? Thank you so much for your help.

  28. I-551 stamp is an official proof of permanent resident status. As long as it’s still valid (usually for one year), it should serve the same purpose as a physical green card. However, you may want to confirm with the cruise line just to make sure they accept it.

  29. I am a German citizen since I entered the USA in 1974 when I was a minor of 17 years old. I have a permanent residence card all my adult life, and married to my American husband for 45 years. I am 62 right now and want to know what I need to do to visit your lovely country? My husband and I would like to take a train trip on the mountaineer.

  30. As mentioned in the article, you just need your green card and your passport. Make sure your green card is still valid, though. If it doesn’t have an expiration date on the front, it’s a very old version and USCIS recommends that you renew it (but it may still be valid, so check with USCIS to be sure).

  31. Hello,
    I have I-551 stamp on my passport and waiting for receiving my US green card, can I enter Canada with that stamp or should I wait for my green card.


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