Can a New Driver’s License Be Used as a Passport?

can a new driver's license be used as a passport?

Can a New Driver’s License be Used as a Passport?

Crossing the border and traveling internationally can get confusing. You may be wondering, can a new driver’s license be used as a passport for traveling, when driving over the border into the U.S. from Canada? The short and simple answer is no.

Canadians Visiting the U.S. By Land (Car)

Can a new driver's license be used as a passport?

For travel into the U.S. by car, you will need one of the four options listed below. For British Columbians, note that the Enhanced Driver’s Licenses are being permanently phased out. So for most people, your passport would be the obvious first choice. NEXUS interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S. remain suspended until further notice.Opens in a new tab. (Thanks, COVID).

  1. Canadian passportOpens in a new tab.
  2. Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card
  3. NEXUS, FAST/EXPRESOpens in a new tab.
  4. SENTRI enrolment cardsOpens in a new tab.

NEXUS is a voluntary program designed to speed up border crossings for low-risk, pre-approved travelers into Canada and the U.S. NEXUS users may travel through the often faster NEXUS lanes at the land border crossings and in airports. Reference: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Some provinces may have an Enhanced Driver’s License still, but most seem to be phasing out the program.

Canadians Entering the U.S. by Air

Canadians entering the U.S. by air are required to present:

  • A valid passport, OR
  • A NEXUS card when departing from Canada

To Get Your Canadian Passport For The First Time

To apply for a new adult passportOpens in a new tab., you must be a Canadian citizen and 16 years of age or older. Children may apply for a child’s passport.

You will need to:

  1. Fill out an application
  2. Get your supporting documents and passport photos (you can get photos from London DrugsOpens in a new tab. or any photo counter, and you are not allowed to smile)
  3. Find a guarantor and 2 references
  4. Find out how to submit your application and fees

Passport Fees:

  • 5 Year Adult Passport – $120
  • 10-Year Adult Passport – $160
  • Child Passport (0-15 years) – $57

Additional fees apply if you are in a hurry and need to get your passport expedited (faster).

Personally, I opted for the 10-year passport and I’m glad I did as I find renewing these types of things is kind of annoying if I’m not in the mood.

Passport offices tend to get very busy and long wait times are normal. It helps to arrive first thing in the morning and at a Service Canada location that is not as busy as others.

U.S. State Driving Laws

It might be good to read up on state driving laws for the state you’ll be driving in. There are sometimes differences, like in some places you aren’t allowed to turn right on a red light.Opens in a new tab.

You may turn right at a red light or red arrow in the state of WashingtonOpens in a new tab.

  • If it’s safe to do so and,
  • You come to a full stop and,
  • Traffic is clear and,
  • You stay out of the intersection as you wait
  • *Unless there’s a sign posted that prohibits it

Fun fact: Right turn on a red light is not allowed in Montreal. Opens in a new tab.

Other Tips for Driving to the U.S.

  • Check to see if you can change your speedometer from km to miles. You can on most cars
  • Consider travel insuranceOpens in a new tab. for longer trips. I recommend Goose Insurance (not an affiliate link).
  • Remember you may have to pay duty if you go shopping. You can estimate your potential duty and tax chargesOpens in a new tab. on this site
  • Remember Canadian and U.S. Dollar amounts are not the same
  • If you’re a New Driver, be sure to follow your restrictions while driving in the U.S. (Display the N sign, zero alcohol, etc.) Check out my full article ICBC L&N Driver Restrictions – Summary and Bottomless FAQ to get all of the details.

Carmen Cohoe

Carmen became a driving instructor at the age of 22 in beautiful North Vancouver, BC, and taught many drivers for almost a decade including brand new drivers, drivers from various countries, and seniors, using automatic & standard vehicles and a minivan. She created BC Driving Blog in 2012.

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