Travel Documents: Canadian citizens need either a U.S. or Canadian passport to enter Canada by air (or by land)

This post is a reminder for Canadian citizens traveling outside of Canada who wish to return to Canada by air! YOU NEED THE RIGHT KIND OF “TRAVEL DOCUMENT” TO RETURN TO CANADA!

Section 6 of Canada’ Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right of Canadian citizens to enter Canada.

6. (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.

Yet, certain travel documents are required as proof of identity and citizenship.

There is a distinction between a “travel document” and one’s “citizenship or immigration status”. The “travel document” is generally considered to be “proof” of the “citizenship status”. A Canadian “permanent resident” card, which is valid for at most five years, is proof of having the status of “permanent resident” of Canada. A U.S. Green Card, which is subject to renewal, is a document that is proof of having the status of being a lawful permanent resident of the United States. All travel documents are valid for finite periods of time and must be renewed.

The expiration of the “travel document” does not affect the “citizenship” or “immigration” status. For example, the failure to renew the U.S. Green Card does NOT mean that you lose the right to live permanently in the United States. (You will be required to file U.S. taxes until your status as a lawful permanent resident has been terminated. The recent cases of Mr. Topsnik, discussed here and here, confirm that Green Card holders are subject to U.S. taxation until their status as permanent residents has been terminated.)

Travel document required for Canadian citizens entering Canada by air

Early this morning (or was it late in the evening – either way I was asleep) I became conscious of the ringing of my phone. It was a friend who was frantic. Turns out that his daughter (a Canadian citizen and resident) had just been denied boarding of a plane flying to Toronto. The daughter is a dual Canada and citizen of an EU country.

The reason for the denial of boarding:

She did NOT have a valid Canadian passport. She did have a valid passport from her country of second citizenship.

Since November of 2016 all Canadian citizens entering Canada by air EVEN IF THEY ARE DUAL citizens are required to enter Canada with a Canadian passport!

There is one exception. Dual citizens of Canada and the U.S. do NOT need a Canadian passport IF THEY HAVE A U.S. passport. Yes, it’s true.

Canadian citizens entering Canada by land

Yes, it’s true. Canadian citizens with a U.S. passport can enter Canada whether they have a Canadian passport or not!

What about U.S. citizens entering the U.S.?

U.S. citizens entering the United States are required to enter with a U.S. passport. Apparently a Canadian passport is NOT sufficient to enter the USA.

Possible conclusion

When it comes to dual Canada U.S. citizens:

Get a U.S. passport! It’s the only passport (“travel document”) you really need!

Epilogue – What happened to the poor Canadian citizen who didn’t have either a U.S. or Canadian passport?

She applied for a “Special Authorization” to enter Canada. Looks like she will be arriving a day or two later. But, she will arrive.

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