Planning a trip with a child under 18? Your child under 18 is taking a trip alone? Here are legal tips for smooth sailing.

1 - Passports
The Canadian government recommends that children under 18 have their own passports to travel, including to the United States.
For children under 16, a parent or guardian must request the passport from Passport Canada.
Children 16 and older can make their own requests and get an adult passport.

2 - Special Rules of Other Countries
For travel outside Canada, check with the consulate or embassy of the country. Why? You might need documents aside from a passport:

  • visa
  • visitor's permit
  • birth certificate
  • vaccination certificate
3 - Special Rules of Airlines, Trains, Etc.
Buses, trains, planes, boats … some transport companies have rules about children.Here are examples:
  • minimum age to travel
  • what you can bring on board (baby food, carriages, etc.)
  • buying a separate seat for a child
  • special rules for children with health issues
  • whether the child must be accompanied
4 - A Letter of Permission
Will the child be travelling alone? With only one parent or guardian? On a school trip with a teacher? In these situations, the Canadian government recommends getting a letter of permission, also called a letter of consent.

It should be signed by each person who has a legal right to make major decisions for the child but is not travelling with the child. This will usually be a parent or guardian.

Here is a model letter:

Important! Some airlines and other transport companies require you to use a particular permission form.
If you can't get a permission letter, check with a notary or lawyer before travelling.It might be important to carry other documents too, depending on the situation. Here are examples:
  • divorce decision
  • court decision on child custody
  • death certificate (if one or both parents are dead)
5 - Other Important Papers
On top of a passport, think about other documents that can identify your child:
  • birth certificate
  • proof of adoption·
  • recent photo of the child (for use in an emergency)
Give your child an identification document to carry in case you get separated.

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Éducaloi is a non-profit organization that explains the law to Quebecers in easy-to-understand language.

Important! This article is meant as legal information, not legal advice. If you need advice about a specific situation, consult a lawyer or notary.

The information is up to date to August 30, 2016. It deals with Quebec law only.