Planning to visit Canada to enjoy a stay in Sointula rentals, Malcolm Island’s own luxury fishing lodge, or for a camping adventure? Unless you’re a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, there are a few different types of travel documents that you’ll need to have on hand.

Perhaps the most important item that you’ll need to have is a valid passport. But depending on where you’re visiting from and how you’ll be arriving in Canada, there are a few different types of passports you can have. Some visitors to Canada may also need to have a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization, or ETA, along with their passport. 

Failing to get the right travel documents ahead of your trip could derail your exciting Canada adventure before it even has a chance to start. If you’re planning to visit Canada in 2023, keep reading. We’re breaking down the different types of travel documents you’ll need to have for your trip.

U.S. Passport Books and Cards

U.S. citizens and permanent residents planning to visit Canada will need either a valid U.S. Passport Book or a U.S. Passport Card.

A U.S. Passport Card is a less expensive alternative to a Passport Book. This convenient card fits directly in your wallet, making it easy to carry with you. However, this card can only be used to travel to certain countries and use certain modes of transportation. A U.S. Passport card can be used to enter Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and Caribbean countries, but only when traveling by land or sea. This means that if you are planning a Sointula camping trip and driving to Canada, you can use a Passport card. If you plan to fly from the U.S. to Canada for your visit to Sointula, you cannot use a U.S. Passport Card.

A traditional U.S. Passport Book is the more popular option. This book can be used to travel to any country, and to travel by air. 

If you do not have a passport or if your passport will expire before you visit Canada, make sure to start the application process at least a few months ahead of your planned trip. Passport processing times often reach between 6 and 9 weeks. While you can pay for expedited service to get your passport between 3 and 5 weeks, this does cost extra, and may not be guaranteed. It’s best to start the process early so that you aren’t left stressing out about getting your passport in time or having to postpone your visit.


Individuals who travel frequently between the U.S. and Canada may also be able to obtain a NEXUS card. This card allows pre-screened travelers to enter Canada more quickly through NEXUS-dedicated lanes at border crossings. You can also utilize Global Entry at airports. 

If you plan to visit Canada frequently, applying for a NEXUS card can help save you some time on your trips.

Visiting Canada from Countries Besides the U.S.

If you’re visiting Canada from outside of the U.S., you will need a valid passport from your country of origin. Depending on where you are visiting from, you may also need to get a visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization, or eTA.

Who Needs an eTA to Visit Canada?

Certain visitors to Canada may need to show an eTA. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. are exempt from traveling with an eTA. However, all other visa-exempt travelers will need to have one. Certain travelers from countries that do require a visa to visit Canada may be able to obtain an eTA to travel to Canada by air.

You can apply for an eTA online at the official Government of Canada website. After filling out an application, it will take a few days to process your documents. Your eTA will cost CAD $7 and is valid for up to 5 years or until your current passport expires. You can use an eTA to travel to Canada for short stays, usually up to six months at a time.

Some countries where residents will need to obtain an eTA to visit Canada include:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Great Britain
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • UAE

Click here for a full list of visa-empty, eTA-eligible travelers.

Who Needs a Visa to Visit Canada?

If you’re visiting from certain countries and traveling to Canada by land or sea, you will need to obtain a visa rather than an eTA. You can find a full list of visa-required travelers here.

Planning to Visit Canada in 2023

Where you are visiting from and how you plan to arrive will have an impact on the documents that you’ll need to visit Canada. From passports to visas to eTAs, applying for these documents early can help ensure that you’re ready to go for your stay in Sointula rentals or Malcolm Island camping trip.

Planning to visit Canada from the U.S. in 2023? Click here to learn what Americans need to know about traveling to visit your northern neighbor.