According to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, 12 million people visit the Ontario side of Niagara Falls per year. That’s a substantial number of visitors coming from all over the world, including the United States.
Since Niagara Falls is split between the US and Canada, many who visit the New York side of the waterfalls are eager to migrate over to the Ontario side. Can you do it?
You can cross into Canada at Niagara Falls via the Rainbow Bridge, which is open 24/7, 365, with few delays. You can also take the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and the Whirlpool Bridge. You must have a valid passport to receive entry into Canada.
This guide will be your ultimate resource for entering the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, answering pertinent questions first-time visitors have. Check it out!
Can You Cross Into Canada at Niagara Falls?
As mentioned, Niagara Falls is on the border of the US and Canada. Two waterfalls–American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls–are in New York, while Horseshoe Falls is in Ontario.
Many visitors wish to see all three – and tons of numerous other attractions – which requires crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls. This is permissible via car or truck (save for commercial trucks on the Whirlpool Bridge), but all passengers must have a passport or NEXUS card.
Can You Walk Into Canada at Niagara Falls?
Perhaps you’re not driving into the Ontario side of Niagara Falls because you flew into New York and didn’t want to rent a car. You’ve relied on public transportation to get around.
Since finding parking around Niagara Falls (on both sides) can be tough, you’d rather walk into Canada.
You can do this via the Rainbow Bridge, the only one of the three that allows both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. You will still be asked to present a valid NEXUS card or passport.
What Do I Need to Cross Into Canada at Niagara Falls?
Americans preparing to enter the Canadian side of Niagara Falls must have one of these travel documents ready to show border patrol.
Valid Birth Certificate
Children under 16 are not required to have a passport. However, border patrol still wishes to verify their identity and legal status, which requires a birth certificate.
You can bring a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate so you don’t have to travel with the original document (that would make any parent nervous).
Trusted Traveler Program Cards
NEXUS is a program between the US and Canada to allow travelers between the countries. It’s managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency.
You can use a NEXUS card in lieu of a passport, and children under 16 can get one. Applying for a card costs $50 USD, and your approval is valid for five years. NEXUS cards for kids younger than 18 are free.
Your valid NEXUS card allows access to NEXUS eGates, including Windsor, Ontario’s Ambassador Bridge, and Fort Erie, Ontario’s Peace Bridge.
You can also use a dedicated vehicle lane at more than 20 lane border crossings, US airport Transportation Security Administration Pre-Check lines, and self-serve eGates and kiosks at international airports.
Enhanced Driver’s License
Some US states have begun using Enhanced Drivers Licenses or EDLs. These are verification cards and driver’s licenses in one, so you can present an EDL when crossing into Canada.
As of this writing, only Washington, Vermont, Minnesota, Michigan, and New York issue EDLs.
You can also cross into Canada with a valid passport. You must fill out passport forms, prove your citizenship, and provide a valid photo ID to be eligible for a passport. Your passport is valid for 10 years.
How to Cross Into Canada at Niagara Falls
Once your documentation is ready, here are your options for crossing into Niagara Falls’ Ontario side from New York.
Via the Rainbow Bridge
The Rainbow Bridge is one of the most popular transportation options for accessing Ontario from New York and vice-versa. The bridge, whose official name is the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, overlooks the Niagara River gorge.
It has four vehicular traffic lanes and allows pedestrian traffic in a separate lane. You must pay a toll when entering. The vehicle fee is $5 USD ($6.50 CAD) per car. Pedestrians must pay $1 USD to cross.
The Rainbow Bridge is accessible all day, every day, including on nights, weekends, and holidays.
Via the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge
Your second transportation option is the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, linking Lewiston in New York and Queenston in Ontario. This arch bridge over the Niagara River between New York’s Highway 405 and Canada’s Interstate 190 is a spitting image of the Rainbow Bridge. They have the same designer.
You must pay $5 USD or $6.50 CAD per vehicle to cross from New York into Canada. This is not a pedestrian bridge, so you must drive or take a vehicle across. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge has a NEXUS lane to expedite your travel.
Via the Whirlpool Bridge
The Whirlpool Bridge, named the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge in full, is your third option for crossing into Canada at Niagara Falls.
The bridge, once named the Lower Steel Arch Bridge, is 0.9 miles from the Rainbow Bridge and fewer than two miles from Niagara Falls.
An interesting design facet of the Whirlpool Bridge is its dual decks. Vehicles drive on the lower deck, while the upper deck is reserved for railways. Pedestrians and commercial vehicles cannot cross this bridge. The fee is $5 USD.
You must have a NEXUS card to take the Whirlpool Bridge into Canada, which the other two bridges don’t require.
How Long Does It Take to Cross Into Canada at Niagara Falls?
Crossing the border should take at least 45 minutes without any delays. You can expedite the process by having your documentation ready, but otherwise, you must wait.
You can check this link to determine if the Canadian border has any delays. It’s updated in real-time to help you plan your day’s itinerary.
Is It Worth Visiting the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls?
Obtaining a passport and/or NEXUS card might be time-consuming and moderately pricy, but it’s worthwhile.
Visiting the Ontario side of Niagara Falls will make your vacation much more multi-faceted. Some people believe this is the more attractive side of the waterfalls, although you should be the one to decide after seeing both sides yourself.
The attractions are a major part of what makes visiting the Ontario side of Niagara Falls so special. You can see all three waterfalls in a few hours, then move on to great activities the family will love.
Have you always wanted to get closer to Niagara Falls than a simple tour allows? You must schedule some time to check out Journey Behind the Falls, a guided tour that takes you deep down into the depths of Horseshoe Falls via a cave.
The gaping maw of the cave is the perfect place to get soaked from the waterfall mist. Bring a poncho!
You can’t visit Niagara Falls, Ontario, without taking a spin on the Niagara SkyWheel. This larger-than-life Ferris wheel moves at a leisurely pace, taking you more than 150 feet up over Niagara Falls.
You’ll enjoy the best views in Canada in an enclosed gondola with temperature control. The ride takes about 10 minutes on average and is open all year long.
You can ride during the day or at night. I recommend the latter, as the multicolored view of an illuminated Horseshoe Falls after dark is one of the most precious you’ll ever see.
Why not stay for a while and hang out at Clifton Hill after stepping off the SkyWheel? It has so many awesome attractions, such as the multi-level spiraling Niagara Speedway go-kart track. Get ready to race to the finish!
The epic Dinosaur Adventure Golf features life-sized dinosaur sculptures and booming growls and roars over a PA system.
Movieland Wax Museum houses lifelike replicas of your favorite movie and music stars built from wax.
Cap off your enchanting day at the Great Canadian Midway, a 70,000-square-foot boardwalk with dining, more than 300 games, dark rides, a roller coaster motion simulator, arcades, bowling, and more. It’s one of the best ways to have a blast in Ontario’s Niagara Falls.