U.S. Relations With Canada

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
February 1, 2018

More information about Canada is available on the Canada Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States and Canada share the longest international border on the planet and our bilateral relationship is one of the closest and most extensive in the world. It is reflected in the high volume of bilateral trade—more than $1.7 billion a day in goods and services—and in people-to-people contact--about 400,000 people cross between the countries every day. In fields ranging from border security and law enforcement to environmental protection to free trade, the two countries work closely together on multiple levels, from local/provincial to federal.

U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than with any other country. The United States and Canada share North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) mutual security commitments, and U.S. and Canadian military forces cooperate on continental defense within the framework of the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The Permanent Joint Board on Defense provides policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters.

The United States and Canada work in partnerships within, at, and away from our borders to enhance security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between our two countries. These efforts include collaboration under four pillars: addressing threats early; facilitating lawful trade and travel; law enforcement collaboration; and resilience and cybersecurity. Extensive law enforcement ties include collaboration in risk assessment/analysis, incident management, and coordinated messaging. Successful joint law enforcement programs with Canada include the Border Enforcement Security Taskforces (BEST), the integrated border enforcement teams (IBETS), and the Shiprider Integrated Cross Border Maritime Law Enforcement program. In addition, the Cross Border Crime Forum (CBCF), co-chaired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and their Canadian counterparts, meets to address issues pertaining to the intersection of cross-border law enforcement and prosecution. Recent efforts also include work to improve cross-border law enforcement radio interoperability and efforts to map domain awareness technological capabilities along the U.S.-Canada border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conducts preclearance operations at eight airports in Canada, allowing air travelers to complete customs and immigration procedures before boarding their flight to the United States. This will soon be expanded to include two additional airports and two train stations. Plans are also underway to convert ferry/cruise immigration pre-inspection to full customs and immigration preclearance locations—once Canada has fully implemented the Land/Rail/Marine/Air Preclearance Agreement (LRMA) signed in 2015. Implementing legislation for this agreement received royal assent in December 2017, with a goal of full implementation by the end of 2018.

The United States and Canada cooperate closely to resolve and manage transboundary environmental and water issues. A principal instrument of this cooperation is the International Joint Commission, established under the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. The United States and Canada have hundreds of environmental partnerships at the local, state, and federal level. These include the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to protect water quality and ecosystem health and the Columbia River Treaty to jointly regulate and manage the Columbia River as it flows from British Columbia into the United States. For the latter, the United States and Canada agreed in late 2017 to start negotiations to modernize the treaty regime. The two countries also cooperate on a range of bilateral fisheries issues and international high seas governance initiatives; they are also founding members of the Arctic Council.

U.S. Assistance to Canada

The United States provides no foreign assistance to Canada.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and Canada share the world's largest and most comprehensive trading relationship, which supports millions of jobs in each country. The United States and Canada traded goods and services of $635 billion in 2016 – more than $1.7 billion per day. In addition, Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States. Canada holds the third largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, and is the only non-OPEC member in the top five. Canada and the United States operate an integrated electricity grid under jointly developed reliability standards. Uranium mined in Canada helps fuel U.S. nuclear power plants.

Canada and the United States have one of the world's largest investment relationships. The United States is Canada's largest foreign investor by far, with about 47.5% of total foreign investment stock in Canada, more than the next ten countries combined (www.statcan.gc.ca). Canada is the second largest investor in the United States, with $453 billion of investment stock supporting 636,100 jobs. U.S. investment in Canada is primarily in Canada's software, IT, transportation and business services industries. Canadian investment in the United States is concentrated in software and IT, financial and business services, industrial machinery, and real estate.

The United States, Canada, and Mexico began negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) agreement in August 2017.

The Regulatory Cooperation Council seeks to stimulate more trade by increasing bilateral regulatory transparency and cooperation and eliminating unnecessary differences and duplication that hinder trade and investment.

The two countries manage trade disputes through bilateral consultative forums or referral to NAFTA or World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute resolution procedures. Canada has challenged U.S. trade remedy law under NAFTA and the WTO dispute settlement mechanisms. Canadian goods are exempted from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s “Buy American” provisions. The United States has encouraged Canada to strengthen its intellectual property laws and enforcement.

Canada's Membership in International Organizations

In addition to close bilateral ties, Canada and the United States cooperate in multilateral fora, including international efforts to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. The two countries belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, WTO, G7, G20, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Organization of American States, and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Education Exchange

The United States and Canada share equally in their support of Fulbright Canada. The Fulbright program is a reciprocal residential exchange, providing opportunities for outstanding American and Canadian students, scholars, and independent researchers to study, lecture, and/or conduct research in the other country. Fulbright Canada offers awards for undergraduate students through the highly acclaimed Killam Fellowships program. Canada is one of the countries included in the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which seeks to increase student mobility between the United States and the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Under the Youth Ambassadors program, high school students and adult mentors travel on a three-week leadership development program to the United States.

Bilateral Representation

Principal U.S. embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List. The United States maintains an embassy in Ottawa, as well as consulates in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.

Canada maintains an embassy in the United States at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (tel.202-682-1740).

More information about Canada is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Canada Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Canada Page
U.S. Embassy
History of U.S. Relations With Canada
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Travel Information
Trilateral Agreement with United States, Canada, and Mexico to Expand Trusted Traveler Programs