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Old 02-02-2012, 11:16 AM   #1
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Passport Questions

I haven't been out of the country since prior to 9/11...and even then, I only went to Mexico. So, bear with me.

My husband has orders to AK, so we'll be driving through Canada. I know we need passports (haven't started that process yet- yikes!!) but do we need visas? What is a visa for, anyway?

I am planning our route and Googled the Brewery Hill Info Center in Lethbridge. They say, "get your passport stamped." I'm going to assume they mean a park passport of some sort? Can you tell me about this?

I tried Google, but I'm just as confused as when I started. So, could the informed please enlighten me? Thanks!

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Old 02-02-2012, 11:36 AM   #2
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Passports to travel across lines can (and usually do) take a while to process unless you want to pay extra to have them done faster. They are good for 10 years thou. And if you do have an expired one and it is less than 5 yrs from the expiration date you should be able to not have to pay for a completly new one.
Check out Passports for the most upto date information on them. Try to get them ASAP. It will be one thing off your list when you do get them then and they will be done for 10 yrs.

The US National Park system does have a "passport book" but that has nothing to do with traveling across the borders. ( eParks.com: Home - eParks - Where your purchase supports America's National Parks. for more info with that). Canada may have a similar thing. It is mostly for learning and keeping track of where you went or when you went.

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Old 02-02-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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You'll need a US passport to re-enter the US from any country. Technically, Canada does not require a US passport to *enter* Canada. HOWEVER, Canada requires that you have a passport from your country as proof that you can *exit* Canada and "go home" without any problems. So, in essence, you'll need a US passport -- not a visa -- to exit and re-enter the US via Canada.

You won't get your passport stamped when crossing the border into Canada. Many travelers and tourists want the passport stamped anyway as proof of their travels. That Brewery you mentioned is one of many places that will unofficially stamp your passport so you can show your friends and family that yes, you were once in Canada.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:59 AM   #4
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I worked for US Immigration over 30 years. Simply stated a passport is a document your home country provides you that shows/tells other countries your home country will accept you back. A visa is a document that a foreign country gives you that allows you to enter that foreign country. Prior to 9/11 many countries waived passport and visa requirements for US citizens. After the US tightened up its visa & passport requirements many other countries did the same. Personally, I'd suggest you get a US passport and also contact the Canada authorities to confirm you do not need a visa to enter or pass through Canada. That should/would resolve your travel passport & visa questions. When we visited Cnada two years ago they asked for our passports - visa were not required.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:18 PM   #5
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You can also get a Passport Card, good for traveling in Canada, Mexico and a few other places. They cost less than a full Passport, but take the same amount of time and documentation to acquire. I live in a bordering state to Canada, and use mine to travel there quite often.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:40 PM   #6
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You do not need a Visa to visit Canada if you have a legit American passport.


Safety and Security - Admissibility

The passport thing you discovered is a promotion item that parks and other places have here in the Great White North. If you are planning to be in Lethbridge I am assuming you are planning to hut Glacier National park? If you are treat yourself to some equally great scenery just north of the border at Waterton Lakes national Park of Canada. We have family who visit there annually because of the scenic beauty of the area.

I hope your family enjoys their visit to our country as it is pretty spectacular.

Safe travels and if you have any unanswered questions PM me your or your hubbies phone number and I will call to see if I can assist you in any way.

Lets say I'm offering a pay back to a kind USA armed forces couple in the USA who greatly assisted a Canadian teen in trouble way long time ago in the deep south.
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Old 02-02-2012, 02:09 PM   #7
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One doesn't need a visa to enter Canada.

You should start immediately obtaining a passport. You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate and a passport photo. Be sure your birth certificate is acceptable to the passport people.

My wife was born in California and we had a great deal of delay in obtaining her birth certificate. It took about 4 months to obtain one.

Good Luck.

Also, one can fly to and from AK with out a passport. Since one doesn't leave the US. You can do the same if you take the Alaska Marine Highway from Bellingham, WA. as long as you don't stop anywhere in Canada.

If I were traveling by just a car, I would use the ferry. It is a great trip with naturalists providing lectures on Alaska sites and wildlife. You'll also save yourself 4 or 5 thousand miles of driving and see some wondrous things.
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Old 02-02-2012, 02:18 PM   #8
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Might want to hurry with the passport application. Costs are rising News from The Associated Press
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:30 PM   #9
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The Post Office (USPS) is the easiest place to get your passport, and they will take the required pictures (for a fee of course). Just stop by make an appointment and be sure to take your Birth Certificate with you when you go. They do all the paper work and send it off.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:14 AM   #10
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Obviously, since your husband "has orders," he is in the military. Therefore Uncle Sam will take care of all your travel requirements...better get busy, it might take a while.

Also, be glad you are going to a place where you "need" a passport. Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the Army sent me places that were overseas, but did not require a passport.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:36 PM   #11
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Definitely have your husband check with the folks on base about travel requirements. I am not sure if it still applies but prior to 9/11 US military on official orders didn't need passports to go to NATO countries. Dependents did IIRC. If you are unable to get a passport in time I have been told that you can catch a ferry in Washington that goes straight to Alaska.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:26 PM   #12
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Ditto on checking the post transportation office. Since he is on orders they will process your passports free of charge.

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