You will require a passport to enter Canada and the post-9/11 the process is tighter than ever, here is what you can expect.
Thanks to today’s information gathering, agents at the Canadian border–or at the airport on your arrival will know your past. From a DUI charge to a marijuana possession, Canadian authorities can deem you criminally inadmissible for charges from decade ago. Even if you were granted a suspended sentence or another type of deferment, be prepared to address questions from Canadian authorities. Horror stories of people being denied entry for charges they considered ancient history aren’t unheard of, so if you have anything questionable in your past, be prepared:
Be honest: If you get pulled aside to be interviewed with a customs agent, it’s probably for good reason. It’s not a criminal interrogation: the agent already knows what you did, so there’s no sense in trying to cover it up. In many cases, the agent has the authority to either admit you or not, so points you earn for honesty might help your cause in the long run.
Be upfront with your traveling companions: Worse than not getting into Canada is making your friends drive an hour in the opposite direction to drop you off at the bus stop in the nearest town. Before you even start the trip, let them know if there could be any problems. Having a customs officer disappointed in you is one things, having your friends disappointed in you is quite another.
Don’t be a bonehead: While it should go without saying to leave contraband at home, make sure you don’t pack any accidentally, either. Double and triple-check your pockets and usual stashes for any trace of illegal substances. Full searches of your vehicle and luggage are common, and all it takes is a trace amount of marijuana that you may have purchased legally to keep you out for a long time.
And for Canadians traveling to the US this cartoon communicates a partial reality.