Do You Need a Passport for Niagara Falls?By Kathy Adams; Updated June 08, 2017
Seeing all of Niagara Falls. Are travel documents required?
The different views of Niagara Falls are well worth the bit of effort it takes to see them – especially the view after dark when its waters are illuminated by colored lights. If, like many, you plan to do some border crossing for a truly spectacular eyeful, be prepared to show travel documents.
Do you need a passport to visit Niagara Falls?
You don't need a passport if you're visiting the United States side of the falls in Niagara Falls, New York. But, if plans include visiting the Canadian side, you'll need to be prepared to show travel documents upon both entering and leaving Canada.
Do I need a passport for Canada?
Yes, you will need a passport to visit our neighbors to the north. If traveling by land with a child under age 16, the child will not need a passport. In this case, show the border agents a notarized copy of the child's birth certificate. If you're not the child's parent, you'll need to show signed proof that the child is authorized to travel with you. When traveling into Canada by air, passports are required for all travelers.
Tips for visiting the Canadian side
Three bridges in Niagara Falls, New York, cross into Canada. The Rainbow Bridge offers the best access to Niagara Falls, Ontario, in Canada. Every time you cross into Canada or back into the United States, customs agents will ask to see passports for each person in the vehicle. They'll also ask a few questions, such as why you're traveling, how long you plan to stay and where you'll stay.
When traveling back into the United States, agents will ask if you bought anything in Canada. The agents will ask for specifics, so save your receipts. If you've been in Canada for less than two days, you're allowed to bring back $200 worth of Canadian goods, or $800 if you've stayed for more than 48 hours. Taxes, or duties, may be charged on some items or on goods worth more than the aforementioned $200 or $400 exemptions. Special import rules apply to tobacco and alcohol products, so it's best to visit one of the duty-free shops on either side of the bridge if you plan to bring any such items from Canada back into the United States. The shop employees are knowledgeable about tariffs and items free from duties and can help you make educated purchase decisions so you don't have to leave any purchases behind.
As for the actual waterfalls, the largest and most famous, Horseshoe Falls, is on the Canadian side. Walkways near the falls allow you to get up close, and numerous hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations are within walking distance. You can also see the smaller falls on the American side. The American side is protected park land, so it's also worth a stop on the way to or from Canada if you're up for a hike.