Children and travel

Whether your children are travelling abroad with you or on their own, preparation for their journey should begin well before they leave Canada. Here is the important advice you need to ensure that they have a safe and happy trip.


Persons under 18 or 19 years of age, depending on their province or territory of residence, are considered children and need appropriate documentation to travel abroad. The following is a list of documents that may be required:

  • Canadian passport
  • Consent letter confirming that the child has permission to travel abroad (e.g. when taking a trip alone or with only one parent)
  • Supporting identification, such as a birth certificate or citizenship card
  • Other legal documents, such as divorce papers, custody court orders or a death certificate (if one parent is deceased)

Check with the nearest embassy or consulate of each country you are planning to visit about additional entry requirements, and check our Country advice and advisories for other laws and regulations affecting children.

Child custody/welfare

International parental child abductions and custody cases involving Canadian children in foreign countries are on the rise. If you or your partner is travelling to another country with your child and there is a possibility that a custody dispute might develop:

  • Talk to a lawyer before the child leaves home. Confirm that your custody agreement permits the child to travel internationally.
  • Remember that customs and immigration officials and transportation companies are looking for missing children and may ask questions about any children travelling with you. If you are concerned about the safety of your child or fear that an unauthorized passport application may be made on his or her behalf, you can add your child’s name to Passport Canada’s System Lookout List.
  • Be sure to carry proper identification for you and each child accompanying you to help prove your citizenship, residency and custodial rights when returning to Canada.
  • Ensure that children carry a consent letter from every person with the legal right to make major decisions on their behalf, if that person is not accompanying the children on the trip.
  • Consult our publications Travelling with children and International child abductions: a manual for left-behind parents.
  • Visit our Child welfare, abduction and custody issues page for information on how to get help if your child is abducted.

Air travel

If a child is travelling alone:

  • Confirm in advance whether the airline will escort and supervise children from check-in through arrival.
  • Find out if there are restrictions, such as age limits, for unaccompanied minors.
  • Ensure that a parent or guardian stays at the airport until the flight has departed (as per airline regulations).
  • Read our page on Taking small children through security screening.
  • Ensure that the person greeting the child at the point of arrival has appropriate identification and authorization.

International adoptions

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is responsible for allowing an adopted child entry into Canada. For further information, visit International adoptions or contact your provincial/territorial authorities.

Related links

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