Can I Travel by Greyhound Without a U.S. Passport?
Greyhound used to be the ride of choice for travelers on a budget and for folks who, with no alternative travel choices, needed to get someplace. Buses now have Wi-Fi, electrical outlets at the seats and, in some cases, onboard movies. The bus line travels to 2,700 destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and it’s still an economical choice. If your trip begins and ends in the United States without any travel time in Mexico or Canada, you don’t need a passport, but you do need ID.
Riding Greyhound Into Canada
Americans crossing the border into Canada must have a passport, an Enhanced Drivers License, a NEXUS card or a Certificate of Indian Status. Apply for a passport at least four to six weeks in advance of your trip. The next time you renew your driver’s license, ask for the enhanced version with the chip that provides your biometric and biographic information. A NEXUS card proves membership in the Trusted Traveler program. Apply for one through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Travelers also need a return ticket to the U.S. or to another destination outside Canada.
Bus riders must be able to show their documentation when they board the bus, or they’ll be turned away. When you reach the border, all passengers must leave the bus and collect their luggage. Customs agents will ask about your reason for traveling and may inspect your luggage.
Minors must be able to prove citizenship. Children under 15 years of age must travel with a parent or guardian. A sole accompanying parent must present a signed letter from the other parent proving awareness of the child's trip into Canada.
The process is reversed when you return to the U.S. from Canada.
Regulations for Entering Mexico on a Greyhound Bus
The rules for entering Mexico by bus from the U.S. are basically the same as the rules for Canada, with a few exceptions. Travelers need to be able to furnish the address of where they will stay in Mexico, and children under 18 entering Mexico must be traveling with an adult. An accompanying adult who is not the minor’s parent must have a notarized letter from the child’s parent consenting to the child’s travel.
When returning to the U.S. by bus, Mexican citizens and foreign nationals need a passport and visa, a round-trip ticket and the address of where they will stay in the U.S. They’ll also need to fill out Form I 94, available at the border. Minors need proof of citizenship and an adult traveling companion. Minor non-Mexican citizens traveling alone also need a notarized letter from a parent or guardian authorizing travel.
Tips for Riding a Greyhound Bus
Greyhound buses begin boarding 20 minutes before their departure. If you have your ticket and are not checking baggage, there’s no reason to arrive earlier than that. Carry-on luggage, limited to one bag, must weigh 25 pounds or less and must fit into the overheard compartment or under the seat in front of you. Two checked bags up to 50 pounds each are allowed. Greyhound charges a fee for additional checked or carry-on baggage.
Check your itinerary to see where the bus stops for breaks or meals. If you’re on a less-traveled route, carry some cash for remote stops with stores that don’t accept credit cards. Keep in mind that Greyhound doesn’t sell food or drink onboard buses. Pack a few snacks and bottled water for long rides.
Almost all Greyhound buses have Wi-Fi and electrical outlets at the seat. Bring your laptop or tablet to stream movies or surf the Internet, or charge your cellphone while you doze.
Greyhound recommends you pack a light blanket or cozy jacket for overnight trips. If you’re a light sleeper, pack earplugs and an eye mask.
A person planning to pick you up at the end of the trip can track your bus in real time online.