Children and travel

This section offers information on precautions to take when travelling with children or when a child is travelling alone. 

Documentation

Persons under 18 years of age 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 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.
  • Remember that customs and immigration officials and transportation companies are looking for missing children and may ask questions about any children travelling with you.
  • 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 publication International child abductions: a manual for left-behind parents.

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).
  • Ensure that the person greeting the child at the point of arrival has appropriate identification and authorization.

Travelling through security screening with small children—dos and don’ts

Do

  • Pack toys in your child’s carry-on baggage.
  • Remove infants from their strollers/carriers. Hold them in your arms and proceed through the metal detector.
  • Place strollers, infant carriers and other child-related equipment including diaper bags, on the conveyor belt for security screening.
  • Let your child walk through the metal detector if he or she is able to do so alone.
  • Walk through the metal detector if you are pregnant—it won’t harm your unborn child. If you are concerned, you may request a physical search.
  • If you are travelling with a baby under two years of age (0-24 months), bring baby food, formula, medications, milk, water and juice, in reasonable amounts that will be required during your flight(s) and any connections. These are exempted from the liquids, aerosols and gels restrictions only if you are travelling with a baby under two years of age (0-24 months), however they must be presented to a screening officer for separate inspection. As gel or ice packs are subject to the liquid restrictions, it is recommended that you freeze a bottle of milk or formula or carry a small bag of frozen vegetables (peas, for example) to keep the baby products cool.
  • Passengers flying with or without their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than 100 ml provided it is presented to the screening officer for inspection prior to screening.
  • Gel and ice packs are exempt from the restrictions on liquids when used to refrigerate breast milk, medically necessary items and medication (as long as it states on the label of the medication that it needs to be refrigerated or the passenger has a doctor’s or pharmacist’s note).

Don’t

  • Bring toys in your child’s carry-on that look like real weapons (e.g. water guns, squirt guns, toy grenades, etc.).
  • Pack gel or ice packs in your carry-on as they are subject to the liquid restrictions. It is recommended that passengers freeze a bottle of milk or formula or carry a small bag of frozen vegetables (peas, for instance) to keep their baby products cool. Gel and ice packs are only exempt from the restrictions on liquids when they are used to refrigerate breast milk, medically necessary items and medication, as long as it states on the label of the medication that it needs to be refrigerated or the passenger has a doctor’s or pharmacist’s note.
  • Hand your child to a screening officer to hold while you go through security. 

For additional information, please visit the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority "Travelling with Children" webpage.

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

Other resources

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