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Travel Tips for the Visually Impaired
Travel Tips for the Visually Impaired
Part Seven - Travel in Canada

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Travel Tips for the Visually Impaired
Part Seven - Travel in Canada

By Rochelle Caviness - July 23, 2002

This article is intended to give visually impaired individuals from the United States a few travel tips regarding travel in Canada.

So, what will be the biggest difference that you will notice when traveling to Canada?

Three things - 1) Canadian cities tend to be cleaner than their American counterparts. 2) Canadians, overall all, are very out going. 3) All signs, brochures, and Canadian websites have text listed in both English and French. Ok, there are four things, if you go to the Province of Quebec, you will discover that the primary language in use is French - but don't worry, you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who is not bilingual in both French and English.

Crossing the Border

If you are an U.S. citizen, crossing into Canada is a painless endeavor. First off, you don't need a passport or visa to cross the boarder. [This has changed since this article was first written. American citizens traveling to Canada are now required to show a U.S. Passport or Passport Card.] You do, however, need to prove that you are an U.S. citizen - and a passport is the easiest way to do this, although an original or certified copy of your birth certificate will also work. You will also need to show an official, picture ID, such as a driver's license if you don't have your passport with you.

Underage Travelers

If you are under the age of 18, and traveling alone, there is one additional piece of documentation that you'll need to cross into Canada. You'll need a letter from your parents, or legal guardian, stating that you have their permission to travel alone to Canada.

If you are traveling with a child that is not your own - even if it is your grandchild, you will need to carry along a notarized letter from the child's parent, or legal guardian, that clearly states that you have their permission to take their child into Canada. As well, if you are divorced, you may be asked to prove that you have legal custody of the child, or that you have the permission of the legal custodian to take the child into Canada.

Guide Dogs

Traveling with a guide dog in Canada is no different from traveling in the U.S. Guide dogs are welcome in all public areas in Canada, including buses, hotels, and restaurants. Technically, service dogs entering Canada are exempt from all import requirements as long as they are accompanied by their user. However, all bureaucratic requirements are subject to change and you should be sure to check on this before leaving on your trip.

If you are taking a pet dog, or are transporting a service dog that does not 'serve' you, you will need to show a letter from the dog's vet that certifies that the dog is healthy. You will also need to show proof that the dog has a valid rabies vaccination. Detailed information on the requirements for taking a dog (including a service dog) into Canada can be found on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website, in the form of a fact sheet entitled, Importation of Pet Dogs

Medical Care in Canada

You will find that Canada's medical care system is equivalent to the care that you will receive in the U.S. However, your current medical insurance may not cover you in Canada. Be sure to ask your insurance provider before embarking on your trip. If you find that you will not be covered in Canada, you may be able to buy supplemental or medical travel insurance.

If you are carrying prescription drugs, or medically prescripted drug paraphernalia, such as syringes into Canada, be sure to carry such items in their original containers. In addition, if you are carrying syringes, you'll need to carry along a letter or certificate from your doctor that clearly states that the syringes are for your personal medical use.

Driving in Canada

U.S. citizens can legally drive in Canada on their U.S. driver's license. However, if you drive with bioptic glasses or other visual aids (beyond regular eyeglasses), you should check to see if you can legally use such aids in Canada. You can do this by contacting the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C., or one of the many Canadian consulates scattered throughout the U.S. The Canadian Embassy may be contacted at:

The Embassy of Canada
501 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.
20001-2114, USA
Telephone: (202) 682-1740

Or online at:

Returning to the United States

When crossing back into the U.S., you will need to show proof of citizenship, and a picture ID, such as a valid driver's license. Proof of citizenship can be proved by showing an U.S. passport, birth certificate, or certificate of naturalization. [This has changed since this article was first written. American citizens returning from Canada are now required to show a U.S. Passport or Passport Card to reenter the U.S.]

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