A trip to see the massive and powerful Niagara Falls is not complete without seeing it from both sides – the New York side and the Ontario, Canada side. The Canadian side of the falls is only a bridge away from New York, but there are strict border crossing requirements to enter Canada, as well as for returning to the United States. Having all of your proper identification and paperwork ready will make your trip from the New York side to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls a breeze.
In order to cross into the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and return to New York, you must have either a valid U.S. passport, passport card, enhanced driver's license, or have a trusted traveler NEXUS or SENTRI card. You have to apply for a trusted traveler card in advance. A visa is not required as long as you are staying in Canada for less than 180 days. If you have any type of past criminal record or DUI, no matter how minor, take note that you may be denied entry into Canada altogether.
Traveling with Children
If you are traveling into Canada with children, you must bring an original or certified copy of each child's birth certificate. If you are traveling without the child's other custodial parent, he or she must give you a notarized letter granting you permission to travel to Canada with your child. In the case of having sole custody of your child, you'll need to provide supporting court documents. You also must have a notarized letter signed by both custodial parents, as well as yourself, if you are traveling with any children that are not your own.
You may have to declare certain items when entering Canada that exceeds its duty-free, or tax-free allowance. Border officials will ask you if you have anything to declare, give you a general rundown of taxable items and provide you with a declaration card if necessary. Upon your return back to the U.S., you can bring back certain amounts of items duty-free, depending on how long your stay was.
Crossing into Canada
There are three bridges in the Niagara Falls, New York, where you can cross into Canada. U.S. and Canadian customs officers will stop your car and check your documents on their respective sides of the bridges. The Rainbow Bridge is the most direct route from Niagara Falls, New York, to Niagara Falls, Ontario. You can drive, walk or bike into Canada on this bridge, which also offers unprecedented views of the falls. Roughly five miles north is the Lewiston-Queenston bridge, which is a drive-only bridge. For visitors with a NEXUS trusted traveler card, you can take the Whirlpool Bridge, just two miles north of the Rainbow Bridge. All of the bridges require you to pay a toll. The price varies depending on the size of your vehicle and if you are a NEXUS traveler.