Although a lawful permanent resident of the United States – AKA green card holder – cannot hold a United States passport, having a valid passport from your country of origin makes travel much easier. It's the only universally accepted method of photo ID for travelers, and when paired with your green card, it makes visiting Canada simple and easy. If your passport has expired, you can still visit Canada – but only by certain means, and only if you can provide other valid photo ID.

No Air Visits Without a Passport

Unfortunately, you can't travel to Canada by air with an expired passport. Here's why: Although U.S. green card holders don't need a visa to enter Canada, you do need an electronic travel authorization, or eTA, to enter by air. And to get that eTA you need a passport from your country of origin, which you must also present for verification when you enter the country, along with your green card.

You Can Visit By Land and Sea

The requirements for entering Canada by land (driving), rail, or sea (including cruises) are more lax. All you have to do is prove your lawful permanent resident status – easily done with your green card – and provide photo ID. If your passport were valid, it would serve as photo ID. But you can also use other government-issued IDs, such as a driver's license or military ID. Note: In some circumstances, a U.S. citizen can use a birth certificate for proof of citizenship when entering Canada, but green card holders cannot.

Conditions for Entering Canada

Be aware that even if you present the proper documents at the border, you (and anyone else) may be denied entry to Canada if the border officers determine you fall into an "inadmissible" category. These are quite broad and include serious health problems, links to organized crime, a history of human or international rights offenses, and criminal convictions. The best-known example of the latter is DUI, which usually precludes you from entry to Canada. But you may still gain entry if you can convince the border officer that you have been rehabilitated, and in some circumstances you can be given a temporary resident permit that allows you to enter despite other excluding factors.

Getting Back Into the United States

Canadian law requires that you keep your identification and proof of U.S. lawful residency status with you while you're in the country. You'll need the same documents to get back into the United States. As a general rule, most visitors to Canada are admitted for up to six months. You can apply to extend this period, but lawful permanent residents of the United States who are out of country for more than 180 days are subject to new immigrant inspection procedures. If you're gone from the U.S. for more than one year, you'll need a reentry permit.