Amtrak to Canada
Amtrak to Canada

Taking Amtrak to Canada: what you need to know

Three daily trains allow you to take Amtrak to Canada or the USA: the Adirondack and Maple Leaf on the East Coast and the Cascades on the West Coast. There is also talk of a Chicago to Toronto train. If you want to learn about one of these trains, this article will give you the basics and links to the current border crossing information.

In most cases, Amtrak runs the train from start to end, but for the Maple Leaf, where Amtrak runs the train on the USA side and VIA on the Canadian side, and at the border, crews and food service change. Depending on your destination, you may need to book part of your trip with Amtrak and the other half with VIA, so if you get a booking error, that could be the issue. So, book to the border and then with the other railroad for the back half of the trip.

Amtrak To Canada: the trains you can take

Here are the current trains that travel between the two countries.

Does Amtrak operate trains in Canada?

Three trains run in and out of Canada, allowing passengers to go between the Amtrak and VIA systems.

VIA Rail logo

VIA is Canada’s version of Amtrak, which has regional and long-distance service.

At some border crossings, passengers need to disembark for immigration, while others complete customs while still on the train; in either case, the train will stop for a while. All trains bear the Amtrak brand.

If you plan on crossing the border, bring a pen to fill out customs forms.

The Maple Leaf is numbered differently depending on which side of the border it is on, and some portions may not be available for booking through Amtrak. If that is the case for you, you may need to book with Amtrak to the border and then with VIA from there to your destination.

Accommodations found on Amtrak trains to Canada

All trains offer coach classes, but Adirondack does not offer business classes.

Coach class

Amfleet 1
The inside of an Amtrak Amfleet 1 Coach Car is found on many regional trains.

Coach seating offers a comfortable experience with fold-down trays, individual reading lights, 120v grounded electric outlets, and ample luggage storage above the seat or on a shelf. It ensures you have everything you need for a relaxed journey. 

There is ample space above and below your seat to store your luggage. Additionally, most trains have a shelf at the end of the car where you can store your belongings.

From years of experience, I suggest bringing an extension cord; that way, you can plug more than one thing in, and if you have an aisle seat, you do not have to keep bothering your seatmate. 

Business Class

All these trains offer business class, but the Adirondack offers it. This class includes extra legroom, a comfortable seat, and cafe or bistro benefits. Ask the cafe car attendant for more details.

Additionally, Business Class customers receive a 25% bonus on Amtrak Guest Rewards points.

Wi-Fi on trains

Wi-Fi is free and available on these trains, but it may not be available in Candida.

If you want to use your phone once you cross the border, ensure your plan includes calls, texting, and data. Some texting apps use data instead of standard texting, which could limit your communications or consume your data allotment.

Food & currency on these trains

When I’m traveling, I often get hungry, and that’s when I head to the café (or bistro by car on the Cascades).

These trains offer a café or bistro car where passengers can enjoy various hot and cold meals, snacks, and beverages, including alcoholic drinks. Food choice can vary based on the train and what side of the border you are on.

The café is open for most of the journey, but it may be closed at the beginning and end of the route and before the boarding crossing. 

The cafe car takes US currency during the US portions, but the cafe will accept only credit cards, prepaid cards, and VIA Rail gift cards for onboard Café purchases in the Canadian section. Some trains may take Canadian paper money only in Canada. 

I assume Vias and Mastercard branded debit cards are accepted, but the bold text is from the Amtrak site, and this could change at any time. Ask the car attendant for more details.

Amtrak to Canada: requirements and guidelines for border crossings

Information in this section is directly from Amtrak; visit the Amtrak page on border crossing to ensure you have the most current information.

You must be prepared and honest when dealing with border officers to ensure things go smoothly and quickly.

Be aware of what items you can bring into the country you are going to, including money and agricultural goods.

Sites like Customs and Border Protections can help you travel into the USA and Canada Border Services Agency to cross into Canada.

The following information is a guide; check with Amtrak and Via for current information. Most of this information is directly from Amtrak with some slight edits.

The IDs you need to take Amtrak to Canada

No Passengers Under 18 Across the US-Canadian Border Unaccompanied!

Check the Amtrak border crossing page for additional questions about IDs or taking minors over the border. You need at least one of these forms of ID, depending on your country of origin.

US citizens 16 or older

The only acceptable documents for US citizens 16 and over to cross the US-Canadian border by land or sea are:

  • United States Passport
  • United States Passport Card
  • Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI)
  • Enhanced Driver’s License (issued by Washington State, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, and Vermont only),
  • Enhanced Learner’s Permit or Enhanced State ID card (Temporary enhanced driver’s licenses/learner’s permits/state or provincial ID cards are not accepted. The traveler must have the permanent license/permit/card.)
  • Merchant Mariner Document,
  • Military ID with Military orders
  • Form I-872, American Indian Card
  • Amish and Mennonite Old Order only:
    • Copy of birth certificate and
    • A signed copy of IRS form 4029, application for exemption from Social Security and Medicare taxes, and waiver of benefits.
Passpoert

Canadian citizens 16 and over

The only acceptable documents for Canadian citizens 16 and over to cross the US-Canadian border by land or sea are:

  • Canadian Passport
  • Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI)
  • Enhanced Driver’s License (issued by British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec only)
  • Enhanced Learner’s Permit, Enhanced State ID card
  • Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) card

US & Canadian citizens under 16

The only acceptable documents for US and Canadian citizens under 16 to cross the US-Canadian border by land or sea are:

(Under 19 if traveling with an organized group, such as on a school trip)

  • One of the above documents
  • Certified Copy of a Birth Certificate (bearing the raised seal of the issuing office and a statement that it is a certified copy of the original document on file at that office)
  • US Citizen Children Only: Consular Report of Birth Abroad or United States Naturalization Certificate
  • Canadian Citizen Children Only: Canadian Citizenship Certificate Card

Citizens of countries other than the US & Canada

The only acceptable documents for citizens of countries other than the US and Canada to cross the US-Canadian border by land or sea are:

Citizens of other countries who are permanent residents of the United States:

  • Entering Canada: Passport (with visa, if required)
  • Entering the United States: Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (older versions of this are called Resident Alien Cards, which, if not expired, may also be used). A foreign passport may also be presented, but Form I-551 is required.

Citizens of other countries who are permanent residents of Canada

  • Entering Canada: Passport (with visa, if required)
  • Entering the United States: Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (older versions of this are called Resident Alien Cards, which, if not expired, may also be used). A foreign passport may also be presented, but Form I-551 is required.

Citizens of all other countries who are not permanent residents of the United States or Canada need:

  • Passport (with visa, if required)
  • Re-entry permit
  • Refugee permit

When making Canadian reservations

When making a reservation for services crossing the US-Canadian border, you must provide certain information, including your date of birth, gender, country of citizenship, and detailed information regarding the form of ID that you will carry with you on your trip. Further conditions apply.

Providing inaccurate or incomplete information will subject you to extensive inspection and questioning at the border. Please make sure that you supply us with complete and accurate information.

The information you provide when you make your reservation will be entered into your reservation record and supplied to Customs and Immigration officers in advance to facilitate your clearance. Amtrak, VIA Rail Canada, or any Amtrak Thruway provider will not use this information for any other purpose.

When traveling on Amtrak To Canada

The identification you carry on your trip should be the exact piece you selected and provide details about when you made your reservation.

You must carry the original, valid identification document. Customs does not accept any copied, expired, or otherwise invalid documents. Each passenger must have their ID.

Arriving at the Station

  • Departing from Vancouver, BC – arrive at least one hour before departure for border crossing processing.
    • To complete ID checks, Customs and Immigration close the gates 15 minutes before the scheduled departure; the gates will not reopen once they are closed.
  • If departing from Montreal, QC, or Toronto, ON, arrive at least 30 minutes before departure.

For passengers who are not citizens of the United States or Canada, it is strongly advised to arrive earlier than one hour to complete additional United States Customs and Border Protection processing.

Amtrak to Canada wrap-up

Thanks for checking out this page and including me in your travel research for your next train trip to or from Canada! Amtrak can be an easy way to travel, allowing you to relax or get some work done! Also, the train will enable you to travel without having to keep your eye on the road or deal with the stress of air travel.

If you plan to take Amtrak to Canada or the USA, please go to the Amtrak border crossing page to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

If this page helped you, why not share it with others who may benefit or consider supporting Travels with Kev?

Kevin Monteith

Kev Monteith has been traveling on Amtrak since 2012. With over a decade of experience, he has been on over 800 trains, covering over 200k miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by providing support and information. Outside of travel, Kev enjoys making music as an organist and outings with family.

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