Travelling with disabilities
Accessibility standards can vary greatly from one country to another. Many countries do not have facilities to provide access to people in wheelchairs or provide services for those with hearing, visual, or other disabilities.
Contact your destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada to find out about the services available for travellers with disabilities there.
If you hold a valid accessible parking permit in Canada, it may be used in any member country of the International Transport Forum (ITF). Check with local authorities if you can use it in a country that is not a member of the ITF.
Travel by air
Check the websites of your airline and the airport at your destination to find out what services are available to travellers with disabilities.
Plan your flight
Booking your flight
Make sure your airline is aware of your needs so it can help ensure your safety and comfort. You may want to ask about services or conditions such as:
- restrictions on the types of oxygen devices
- limits on the number and types of batteries for mobility aids
- help with transporting a battery-operated wheelchair or mobility aid
- making a special declaration of interest to qualify for reimbursement if your mobility aid is damaged in transit
Consulting your doctor
Ask if you will need to take precautions during your trip, and:
- check if you will need a physical search if it’s not safe for you to be near metal detectors
- find out if you need a prescription to bring some medication sold over the counter in Canada into other countries, including the United States
Pack your medication in your carry-on baggage and always bring documentation that supports your medical condition.
- prescription medication should have your name on clearly identified labels
- liquid restrictions do not apply to prescription medication, but the medication must be given to the screening officer separately from your carry-on baggage
Travelling with a service animal
If you are travelling outside Canada, there may be rules and restrictions related to travelling with a service animal, including:
- quarantine or permit requirements in your destination country
- international health certificate and/or proof of vaccination
- different requirements for emotional support animals
Keep any required documentation for your service animal with you at all times while you are visiting foreign countries.
At the airport
Don’t hesitate to ask your airline for help with your mobility aids and carry-on items.
When you arrive at the security checkpoint, let the screening officer know about any mobility, vision, hearing, speech, medical, or other needs. Screening options are available for most passengers with special needs:
- family or special needs security lines, if available. Screening officers at these lines are trained to offer additional assistance.
- screening with a hand-held metal detector or full body scanner instead of walking through a metal detector
- private search rooms for undergoing a physical search
- remaining seated while screening officers visually inspect your wheelchair or scooter, or perform explosive trace detection swabs of the cushion
If someone is helping you through the pre-boarding screening process, but is not boarding a flight, they will need a gate pass or authorization from the airline’s check-in counter. They must pass through the same security screening as other passengers.
When you arrive at the gate, take advantage of priority boarding services. If you have difficulty carrying your carry-on baggage, ask an airline staff member for help when your boarding pass is issued at check-in.
Accessible transportation in Canada
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) creates accessibility regulations, codes of practice and guidelines to protect the fundamental human right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services in Canada.
If you have a complaint about accessibility and can’t resolve it directly with the transportation service provider, the CTA can help you resolve it through facilitation, mediation or adjudication.
The CTA Accessible Transportation website includes:
- information related to the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations
- information on the carriage of mobility aids on planes, trains and ferries
- publications and checklists to help you plan a trip that meets your accessibility requirements, including Take Charge of Your Travel: A Guide for Travellers with Disabilities
- frequently asked questions on accessible transportation
- newsletter for persons with disabilities
- list of accessible transportation links
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