From: Dave Borneman
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2010 4:15 PM
Subject: [birders] Do you REALLY need a passport for Canada??

A friend asked me if you REALLY, REALLY need to have a passport to get to and from Pt. Pelee, of if a birth certificate and a social security card and a driver's license would work instead. Any thoughts?


Subject: [birders] chat/entering the US from Canada
From: Crystal Keller
Date: Sun, May 16, 2010, 8:15 AM

I know people, and of people, who claim you can almost certainly reenter the United States if you only have your birth certificate. The reasoning seems to be that to detain you would be a hassle for US Customs.

But I wouldn't chance it. Compare the options for passport, passport card, and enhanced drivers license. (Our family is going with passport cards.),1607,7-127-1627_8669_53333---,00.html

Crystal Keller


Subject: [birders] RE: Do you REALLY need a passport for Canada??
From: Elise S. Levasseur
Date: Mon, May 17, 2010, 11:38 AM


Were it only as easy for us to cross an international border as our fine feathered friends. It is not often that I can provide information to the birder's list about which I could ever be considered "expert." In this one instance however, as I am a U.S. Immigration Attorney, I can share with other birders information on documentation that is acceptable for U.S. Citizens ("USC") to use for seeking admission into Canada, and for returning to the U.S. via land (or sea). Please be advised that with regard to USC's returning to the U.S. after travel outside of the U.S. via land or sea, the rules have indeed changed as of June 1, 2009. It is no longer acceptable to travel via land or sea merely with a U.S. Birth Certificate.

While the rules are more relaxed when a USC is seeking admission into Canada, a USC must be able demonstrate to the satisfaction to Canadian immigration authorities that he/she is admissible to Canada, that is that he or she is seeking temporary admission into Canada as a USC for an appropriate purpose as a visitor to Canada. While presenting only a U.S. birth certificate is not likely to bar a USC's admission into Canada, Canadian immigration authorities highly recommend a U.S. passport. This is in part because Canada Immigration wants to be sure that you have proper documentation in order to be able to return to the U.S.

The problem is not so much entering Canada as it is returning to the U.S. When one returns to the U.S., one will be dealing with US Customs and Border Protection Officers, and one must prove admissibility to the U.S. As stated, since June 1, 2009, US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) now requires in most instances that all USC's present to the USCBP one of the following documents found at: Those documents are also listed below:

1) U.S. Passport;
2) U.S. Passport Card;
3) Enhanced Driver's License (EDL); or
4) Trusted Traveler Program Cards - NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment

Having said that, while the U.S. government cannot really bar USC's from returning to the U.S. after travel to Canada, it can be very unpleasant to encounter significant delays at a land port-of-entry, not to mention highly unnerving, including being sent to "Secondary Inspection" while one's identity and nationality are being verified while at the same time enduring lectures from Officers of the USCBP about not having proper documentation. The impression a USCBP Officer may give, is that you are not going to be allowed in. It is therefore highly advisable for USC's to carry with them one of documents as listed above.

If cost is an issue, a USC could obtain an enhanced Michigan Driver's License which costs $45.00. A Passport Card only costs $20.00, but one must have first been issued a U.S. passport in order to be eligible for a U.S. Passport Card.

I carry with me my U.S. passport, and to date, I have not encountered a problem when returning to the U.S. via land. I would be equally comfortable with a Michigan Enhanced Driver's License or a U.S. Passport Card.

Happy International Birding!!!

Elise S. Levasseur, Esq.
Dickinson Wright PLLC
38525 Woodward Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
248-433-7520 (direct)
248-433-7274 (fax)