Minor children travelling to Canada

New entry requirement now in effect

Visa-exempt foreign nationals need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to fly to or transit through Canada. Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa. Canadian citizens, including dual citizens, and Canadian permanent residents cannot apply for an eTA.

The leniency period that allows travellers to board their flight without an eTA ends soon.

Be prepared: Apply for an eTA before you book your flight to Canada. Most applicants get approved within minutes. However, some applications can take several days to process so don’t wait until the last minute.

Children under the age of 18 are considered minors in Canada. They must follow the same rules to enter Canada as any other visitor.

Minors who try to enter Canada without the proper documents, or who are with adults other than their parents or legal guardian(s), will be checked more closely.

Border services officers are on alert for children who need protection and check very carefully for missing or runaway children. They may question you about children who come with you to Canada or question a child who travels alone. Make sure you have the proper documents with you.

Minor children entering Canada as a visitor

The documents a minor child needs to enter Canada depend on whether the child is travelling alone or with someone.

If a minor child is travelling alone

The child should present:

  • his own passport
    • a parent’s passport, even if the child’s details are included in it, cannot be used
  • a copy of his birth certificate, and
  • a letter of authorization, in English or French if possible, and signed by both parents or by their legal guardian which lists:
    • the parents’ (or legal guardian’s) address and telephone number, and
    • the name, address and telephone number of the adult who will look after the child in Canada.

If a minor child is travelling with one parent only

The parent should present:

  • the child’s passport
  • a copy of the child’s birth certificate, and
  • a letter of authorization, in English or French if possible, which is signed by the parent who is not travelling with them and lists:
    • the address and telephone number of the parent who is not travelling, and
    • a photocopy of that parent’s signed passport or national identity card.

If the parents are separated or divorced, and share custody of the child:

  • the parent travelling with the child should carry copies of the legal custody documents.
  • It is also best to have a letter of authorization from the other parent who has custody to take the child on a trip out of the country.

If the parents are separated or divorced and one of them has sole custody of the child:

  • the letter of authorization may be signed by that parent only and they should bring a copy of the custody decree.

If one of the child’s parents is deceased:

  • the travelling parent should bring a copy of the death certificate.

If a minor child is travelling with a legal guardian or adoptive parents

The child should have a copy of the guardianship papers or the adoption papers (whichever one applies).

If a minor child is travelling with a person other than their parents or legal guardian

The adult who is not the parent or legal guardian of the child should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the child. The permission letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or legal guardian can be reached.

The letter does not need to be certified. A photocopy of the parents’ or legal guardian’s signed passports or national identity cards should be attached to the letter.

Note: The border services officer may not ask to see these documents when the child enters Canada. However, it is strongly recommended you bring them, in case that you are. The minor child will not be admitted to Canada if the officer is not convinced that the parents or legal guardian have authorized his stay.

Minor children entering Canada to study

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

Find out about the requirements and documents that are needed.

eTA for family members

Each family member must apply separately for an eTA. You cannot apply for more than one eTA at a time.

Inadmissibility

Some people are inadmissible—they are not allowed to come to Canada. Several things can make you inadmissible, including involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations or in organized crime.

You can also be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons. Find out more about inadmissibility.

Top questions about visiting Canada

Find out if you are eligible

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