Can I still use a birth certificate to re-enter the US?

First off: I acknowledge that none of the advice received here is authoritative, if I want a definite answer I should ask the consulate or the like, all information is given for entertainment value, and so forth.

Having said that, the government faq confuses the dickens out of me: am I still able to use a government-issue photo ID and a birth certificate if I fly from Canada to the US, or do I absolutely have to use a passport now?

Thanks, in advance, for any clarifications/recent experiences people have to offer. :slight_smile:

State department says yes, you need a passport if travelling by air:

Aha! Thanks for the cite, it’s much appreciated. :slight_smile:

I recently had to look into this very question. What the page cited by PaulParkhead is confusing on is that if you’re traveling to and from Canada via land (i.e. driving across the border) the requirements are the same as those for sea travel.

So for air travel, a US citizen still needs a passport, or the new passport card, or the NEXUS card.

For sea or land travel, a valid State ID, showing current residence, and proof of citizenship, such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, will still get you across the border if you’re driving.

I don’t have a web cite for this, as you may notice looking at the State web page, they ignore the possibility of land travel. But Lorraine at 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636) assured me that the requirements for sea travel are the same as for land travel.

My family lives on the border and my father crosses frequently for his golf league. He says that a birth certificate and a picture ID will work. But he also said it has to be the original birth certificate not a copy.

And if you should get on, say, the Ambassador Bridge having accidentally forgotten your passport, the Canadians are still pretty cool about letting you in; it’s not their rule after all (well, it is, but it’s always been commonly known that it’s often not enforced). In any case, you might as well try getting into Canada, because whether you do so or try to turn around right away, you have to convince the Americans to let you back in on the strength of your drivers license alone. For the time being, be prepared to answer extra questions, receive a lecture, and receive a flyer indicating what the requirements are.

I know the Canadians are usually pretty cool if you can demonstrate that there’s no funny business going on, but since I’m flying and my passport got trashed in the washing machine, I’m worried that I’ll fly into Canada, try to explain why my (readable) documents look like crud, and be forced to fly back into the US until I can get a replacement passport. >_<