Reasons You May Be Denied Entry at the Canada Border

Sarnia, Canada at the US border

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Crossing the border is serious business. Even Canadians, who are known to be polite and easy-going, don't mess around when it comes to checking ID at the country's border.

To some extent, your ability to come to Canada is subjective and at the discretion of the officer who you speak to when you arrive at the border.

As one border services officer put it in an email, "Admissibility of all travelers seeking to enter Canada is considered on a case-by-case basis based on the specific facts presented to the border services officer, by the applicant, at the time of entry. It is up to the person to demonstrate that they meet the requirements to enter and/or stay in Canada."

If you have any concerns about your admissibility, you may be interested in these common reasons why people are denied entry at the Canada border.

  • 01 of 08

    Insufficient Identification

    Person holding an open US passport

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    A current passport is required for entry into Canada no matter your nationality. You may also use a Trusted Traveler program card, like NEXUS, or an enhanced drivers license, but you are still required to have a passport.

    If you are traveling with a birth certificate and drivers license, do so at your own risk. You could be denied entry.

  • 02 of 08

    Don't Have Papers for Your Pet

    Woman driving with a German shepherd dog looking out of the back seat window

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    If you are ​traveling to Canada with your dog or cat, make sure you have a signed veterinary document that indicates the animal's breed and physical description as well as proof they are up to date with their rabies shots.

  • 03 of 08

    No Note for Minor

    Children seated in a car

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    Because border officials are always keeping an eye out for abducted children, if you are traveling with a minor (under the age of 18), ensure that he or she has proper identification, such as a birth certificate, passport, citizenship card, permanent resident card or Certificate of Indian Status as well as a note a letter of permission to travel. If not, you could technically be denied entry to or at least held up at the border.

  • 04 of 08
    car with full trunk

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    A messy trunk will not get you denied entry into Canada, but if you forget to remove prohibited items or items that make it look like you are trying to work in Canada, you could be turned away.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Criminal Record


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    Having a criminal record is one of the main reasons people are refused entry into Canada. If you have a DUI (drinking under the influence) or an assault conviction lurking in your past, don't think it will go unnoticed. People are turned away every day for past convictions.

    Denial to Canada is not automatic if you have a conviction. Be honest about your criminal history. You may be able to persuade the immigration officer that you have been rehabilitated. Alternately you may have to prove individual rehabilitation, which is an application process that proves though you have a previous conviction, you no longer pose a risk.

  • 06 of 08

    Bringing a Gun Without the Proper Paperwork

    female hand pulls out a gun from the glove box in car

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    Though some guns are allowed into Canada, you must have licenses for them as well as the proper hunting license for the province you are visiting if you plan to hunt.

    You must declare any arms you are bringing into Canada or you can be denied entry and/or fined.

  • 07 of 08

    No Visa

    US Passport with visas

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    Citizens of certain countries require a visa to visit Canada or even just to travel through Canada (say your cruise ship ports in Canada on your way to the U.S.). You can't apply for a visa once you're here, so find out before you travel if you need to have either a Temporary Resident Visa (visitor visa), a Transit Visa or a Parent & Grandparent Super Visa, or you could be denied entry.

  • 08 of 08

    No Permit

    Work visas

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    Canada provides many opportunities for people from other countries to study or work, but if you plan to do so, be sure you've gotten the proper study or work visa, or you may be denied entry.