The Jay Treaty protects Status Indians when crossing the border from Canada into the US. This allows individuals with Indian Status to freely cross the border regardless if they have a criminal record, for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing, or immigration.
You need to provide documentation that proves you have at least 50% aboriginal blood, or blood quantum. Documents that are accepted as proof include:
- letter from your band office confirming blood quantum;
- certificate of Indian Status card;
- long form birth certificate;
- Red ID card issued to Haudenosaunee members;
- Inuit enrolment card from one of the Inuit regional land claim agreements.
Border officials may ask for any of these documents. However, the letter of quantum is requested most often. This documentation must come from your first nation or from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). Here, you can request a letter of ancestry. To obtain a copy of your long form birth certificate contact the Vital Statistics Office of your province; the fee is approximately $22. It can be helpful to bring as many of the documents as you can.
You can show your status card to cross the border via land/marine but it is still up to the discretion of the officer to allow you entry with only the status card. It is recommended to have an Enhanced Driver’s Licence (EDL), which is a secure document for entry into the U.S. by land and water, denoting your identity and Canadian citizenship. EDL’s are currently on available for residents in BC, Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec.
If travelling by air, you are required to have a passport. The Secure Certificate of Indian Status and the Certificate of Indian Status are not official travel documents and can’t be used to cross the Canada−U.S. border by air.
Native Indians born in the US do not have the same travel rights, as the Jay Treaty is not recognized in Canada. Native Indians born in the US need to apply for a work/study permit if they wish to reside in Canada. They will also require a waiver if they have a criminal record in the US to be able to enter Canada. To find out more about your eligibility to enter Canada, check your eligibility here.
If you cannot obtain such a letter (or if you have less than 50% indigenous blood), you have to apply for an Entry Waiver if you wish to cross the border.
Other Governmental resources designated to help Indigenous peoples:
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) continues to renew the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) works collaboratively with partners to improve access to high quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
To request a letter of First Nation membership, contact your First Nation office.
To request a letter of ancestry from ISC, contact Public enquiries.
To request a letter of band membership you must contact your first nation or band.