How Long Can a Canadian Stay in the U.S.?

By Ashley Friedman

Canadian snowbirds know these 5 things before they vacation in the U.S.

How Long Can a Canadian Stay in the U.S.?

Traveling to the United States from Canada should be a pretty painless experience. Travelers generally don't need to worry about more than their passports, and visas are not required for short stays. However, in some situations, more paperwork or clearance is required, so travelers should familiarize themselves with the procedures put in place by U.S. Customs & Border Patrol.

1. How long can a Canadian vacation in the U.S.?

As of early 2017, the maximum amount of time that a Canadian was able to spend in the U.S. without a visa was about six months, or a maximum of 182 days. This time could be spent in the U.S. contiguously or broken up into smaller trips over the course of a year. As of March, 2017, there were some negotiations between the United States and Canada that could potentially increase the maximum allotted time for a Canadian visitor to the U.S. from six months to eight months. It is possible for Canadians to extend their stay in the United States, but the request and intention must be declared beforehand, and any necessary paperwork must be available to the citizen to present to any inquiring officers working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

2. Do Canadians need an additional visa?

In most situations, Canadians visiting the United States do not require business or visitor visas to enter the United States. In particular cases, however, there are different circumstances and different visa requirements. Canadian citizens who have previously been removed from the United States or who have been arrested for driving under the influence must follow a different set of procedures and paperwork. This applies to Canadians who are intending to become immigrants to the U.S. and Canadian citizens who intend to marry American citizens. In these cases, the individuals in question must apply for an immigrant visa. In the case of employees or officials of international organizations, a G visa may be required. This is also true for investors who may be profiting from their time in the United States.

3. Work visa vs. travel visa

Typically, Canadians entering the U.S. for travel do not require a visa if they are staying in the country less than six months for pleasure. Canadians looking to extend their stay must reach out to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service office to request an extension of their stay. In work travel, the situation differs slightly. For employees coming to the United States for work, a non-immigrant visa must be obtained. In the case of journalists or temporary workers traveling to the United States on assignment, they must be sure to have -- and be prepared to present -- any supporting documentation or approved requests for such travel to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer when entering the country.

4. What if you plan to work or study?

If a Canadian traveler enters the United States with the intention to work, study or live as a citizen without disclosing that information, he or she risks being permanently barred from the United States. Overall, restrictions for Canadians visiting the United States are lenient, but it is always wise to review the customs requirements for any country you are intending to visit before leaving home to ensure you remain in compliance with the laws of both nations.

5. Other things you need to know

Native Americans born in Canada are permitted free travel across the nation's borders. This privilege is also afforded to members of Canada's First Nations, a group that encompasses all aboriginal peoples born in Canada and south of the Arctic. As with all international travel, travelers from Canada to the U.S. must disclose the reason for and intended duration of their travel to Customs and Border Protection agents upon entry.

About the Author

Ashley Friedman graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Social Sciences. She has experience writing copy for the websites of creative professionals, and regularly contributes to several blogs covering popular culture, travel, food, and social action.