U.S. Relations With Canada

Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Fact Sheet
August 26, 2016

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 in the world and their 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 $1.8 billion a day in goods and services—and in people-to-people contact. About 380,000 people cross between the countries every day by all modes of transport. In fields ranging from security and law enforcement to environmental protection to free trade, the two countries work closely together on multiple levels, from federal to local.

U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than with any other country. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense provides policy-level consultation on bilateral defense matters. 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 Beyond the Border initiative outlines a cooperative vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness. The United States and Canada work in partnerships within, at, and away from our borders to achieve enhanced security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods, and services between our two countries. This effort includes 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), and the Shiprider Integrated Cross Border Maritime Law Enforcement program. In addition, the Cross Border Crime Forum (CBCF), co-chaired by DHS, 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 Canadian airports, allowing air travelers to complete customs and immigration procedures before boarding their flight to the United States. The two countries, through the Land/Rail/Marine/Air Preclearance Agreement signed in 2015, intend to update the authorities and tools for preclearance officers for a post-9/11 air environment, expand preclearance operations to cover land, rail, and ferry/cruise travel.

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. The two countries cooperate on a range of bilateral fisheries issues and international high seas governance initiatives, and are both founding members of the Arctic Council.

The bilateral Clean Energy Dialogue is charged with expanding clean energy research and development, developing and deploying clean energy technology, and building a more efficient electricity grid based on clean and renewable energy. These efforts will reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change in our shared air environment. Canada is an ally of the United States in international climate change negotiations. Canada participates in the multilateral Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate; the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which aims to accelerate clean energy technologies in major industrial sectors; and the International Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, which researches effective ways to capture and store carbon dioxide.

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. Canada is the single largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States. Canada is the third largest holder of 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.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) among the United States, Canada, and Mexico has reduced trade barriers and established agreed upon trade rules. It has resolved long-standing bilateral irritants and liberalized rules in several areas: including agriculture, services, energy, financial services, investment, and government procurement. The Regulatory Cooperation Council seeks to stimulate even more trade by increasing bilateral regulatory transparency and cooperation and eliminating unnecessary differences and duplication that hinder trade and investment.

Canada and the United States have one of the world's largest investment relationships. The United States is Canada's largest foreign investor, and Canada is the third-largest foreign investor in the United States. U.S. investment is primarily in Canada's mining and smelting industries, petroleum, chemicals, the manufacture of machinery and transportation equipment, and finance. Canadian investment in the United States is concentrated in finance and insurance, manufacturing, banking, information and retail trade, and other services.

Bilateral trade disputes are managed 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. In October 2012, Canada joined the United States and other countries in negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement.

Canada's Membership in International Organizations

In addition to their 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.

Bilateral Representation

Bruce A. Heyman is the U.S. Ambassador to Canada; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

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: Canada
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 and Business Information
Trilateral Agreement with United States, Canada, and Mexico to Expand Trusted Traveler Programs