Minor children – Study in Canada

Minor children must apply for a study permit if they want to study in Canada.

Who is a minor child?

In Canada, each province and territory decides the age when a person is considered to be an adult. This is known as the age of majority. A person under the age of majority is considered to be a “minor child.”

Province/Territory Age of
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan 18
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon 19


Minor children who are less than 17 years of age and come to Canada to study without a parent or legal guardian must be cared for by a responsible adult in Canada. This person is known as a custodian. In some cases, a custodian may also be needed for minor children between 17 years of age and the age of majority in the province or territory of the educational institution where they intend to study. This will be at the discretion of an immigration officer.

Custodianship requires that legal arrangements be made to give the custodian in Canada permission to act in place of a parent. Two notarized documents are required. A notarized document is a document that has been certified by a notary.

The first notarized document must be signed by the parents or legal guardians of the minor child in the child’s country of origin. The second notarized document must be signed by the custodian in Canada.

Find standard custodian form letters in the Related Links section at the bottom of this page.

An immigration officer must be satisfied that adequate arrangements have been made for the care and support of minor children who travel to Canada to study.

Minors traveling alone

Minor children who are traveling alone must:

  • bring contact information (name, address and phone number) with them about the custodian, if required, who will be responsible for them in Canada and where they will be going to school; and
  • have a letter of permission from their parent(s) and a letter from their custodian in Canada.

If the child is the subject of a custody order, additional information is required. A custody order is an order of a Court that indicates which parent has care and control of a child. If a custody order has been issued, a copy of the order must be provided. A letter indicating the other parent’s consent is also required.

In Quebec, minors traveling alone need a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Certificate of Acceptance or CAQ) to study.

Length of time a study permit is valid

For minor children in grades 1 through 8:

  • the study permit is normally valid for one year.

For minor children in grades 9 through 12, or attending a post-secondary institution:

  • the study permit is normally valid for the length of time of studies, plus 90 days.

For minor children studying in Quebec:

  • the study permit is valid for the same length of time as their CAQ.

If a minor child is with parents who have long-term study or work permits, the child’s study permit should be valid for the same length of time as:

  • the parents’ permits;
  • the child’s passport if it expires before the parents’ permits; or
  • the CAQ, if studying in Quebec.

Exceptions: Studying without a study permit

In some cases, minor children do not need a study permit to study in Canada. These cases include:

  • minor children attending kindergarten;
  • minor children who are refugees or refugee claimants, or whose parents are refugees or refugee claimants; and
  • minor children who are already in Canada with parents who are allowed to work or study in Canada, and who want to attend pre-school, primary or secondary school.

When minor children studying in Canada without a permit reach the age of majority (turn 18 or 19 depending on the province or territory), they must apply for a permit if they want to continue studying.

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