8 Things to Pack Before Driving into Canada with Kids

Welcome to Quebec sign. What do I need to drive into Canada with Kids
A picture next to the Welcome to Quebec sign. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

After road tripping across the U.S. and six Canadian provinces, I crossed the Canadian border with my car several times. With the proper documentation, it’s an easy process and takes little time, barring traffic. Read on for what do I need to drive into Canada with kids.

Documents Required to Drive in Canada

Driving across the border into Canada is relatively easy with very similar driving laws and a common language. Except for Quebec, all signs in Canada are in English first. In Quebec the signs and location names will most likely be in French.

The following documentation is needed in Canada, just like the U.S.

  • A valid Driver’s License is sufficient for driving on a vacation.
  • Car Insurance
  • Current Car Registration

Not required, though an International Driving Permit, orIDP, is preferred. Available through, fill out an application, include two passport photos, a photocopy of your valid driver’s license and a $20 fee. Allow a couple of weeks for processing and delivery.

Note: AAA membership isn’t required to apply for a IDP.

What do I need to drive into Canada with kids.
A valid passport is the best document to provide identification and citizenship. Photo Credit: Pixabay

What do I Need to Drive into Canada with Kids

To take your car, kids and contents across the border there are several things that you need to keep in mind. Since I’m traveling into Canada with my children under 18 without the other custodial parent, I need to be prepared. So I gathered all the required information before my trip.

I pulled together a folder full of documentation for crossing the Canadian border before I left home. And remember the border agents have the authority to deny entry into Canada if they want to.

Gather all the information and put it into a folder and keep it safe during your trip.

Items to Carry in a Travel Folder

  • Passport Books or Passport Cards
  • Notarized Letter of Consent–see below
  • Copies of the kids’ birth certificates–I left the originals at home for safe keeping.
  • A copy of our itinerary which includes the addresses of hotels and campgrounds plus their reservation numbers.
  • A copy of our car insurance. If your state issues a paper car registration, add that as well.

Note: Passport cards are good for land and sea travel into Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda only. Passport cardsCANNOT be used for international air travel.

The Notarized Letter of Consent

  • A statement from the absent parent stating they aware that the children are traveling and who they are traveling with, this includes other passengers in the car. Include the kids’ names as printed on their passports, dates of birth, and passport numbers.
  • The full names and addresses of the people the kids are traveling with along their passport numbers and dates of birth.
  • The dates traveling and when returning.
  • The absent parent’s contact information, including cell phone number and email, in case the border agent wishes to contact.
  • The absent parent’s signature
  • Notary stamp and signature

At home I have left a similar folder with copies of all the information for Dad as well, just in case.

How to Cross the U.S. Canadian Border

Keep the following in mind when approaching the Canadian Border Services Agent at the border.

  • Wake up kids before arriving at border to insure they can answer questions.
  • Roll down all the windows.
  • Remove sunglasses and hats.
  • Have all documents ready for Canadian Border Services Agent, including travel folder.

If your road trip takes your family across the U.S. Canadian border, there's several things to carry. And even some items to keep at home. And more that you should trash before you head to the border crossing. Get all the details in this article. #FamilyTravel #RoadTripstoCanada

What’s Not Allowed in Canada

The U.S. and Canada have a special relationship though several items are forbidden. Check out the Canadian Border Services Agency website well before leaving on your trip.

Since I was camping and road tripping across Canada, I had a cooler full of food. So I cleaned it out before heading to the border.

  • Individuals with a criminal record, like DWI or DUI.
  • Most fresh meat, though small amounts of commercial jerky is allowable.
  • Fresh poultry and Eggs, fresh or hard-boiled.
  • U.S. Bear Spray. Considered a weapon in Canada.
  • Cannabis, even though it’s legal in Canada.


  • Weapons and ammunition require a special declaration.
  • Pets require a valid and current rabies vaccination certificate.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables–Limit to 250 kilograms per person.
  • Baked Goods–Limit to 20 kilograms per person.
  • Dairy Products–Limit to 20 kilograms persons and the value can’t exceed $20 CAN.
  • Wooden souvenirs must be free of bark.

Our Experience Crossing the Canadian Border

After cleaning out the car a bit, each time I crossed the border, the Canada Border Services Agent asked for all my travel documents, looked over the letter of consent and asked the kids a question. Then they usually asked our nature of our trip, a personal vacation. And then wanted to know where we were going. They thanked me for pulling together the appropriate information and let us through, every time. Easy Peasy.

Where to Go in Canada

During my travels I’ve been to the following places.

Anne of Green Gables Heritage Place


Cape Breton National Park

Saint Croix Island International Historic Site


Montreal in the Winter

Quebec City

Ile d’Orléans near Quebec City

La Mauricie National Park



Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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