With the March school holidays only five weeks away, parents are starting to turn their minds to travel plans that fill this week for many children. While this obviously involves Canadian children traveling abroad to visit family, it also sees overseas-based children entering Canada to spend time with a parent and siblings/step-siblings residing here.
All persons below the age of 18 are considered minors under Canadian immigration law. Minors entering Canada who lack the proper documentation outlined below will be closely checked by Canadian Border Services Agency officials and may potentially be denied entry into Canada. Firstly, all minors need to possess their own valid passport as a parent’s passport is insufficient, even if the child’s details are included in it. If a child is arriving without both parents or their legal guardian, a copy of their birth certificate and a letter of authorization (preferably in English or French) are also required.
The required contents of such a letter differ depending on who the child is entering Canada with. If arriving alone, the letter of authorization should be signed by both parents (or legal guardian) and list the parents’ (or guardian’s) address and telephone number and the name, address and telephone number of the adult who will be looking after the child in Canada.
If the minor is entering with only one parent, the letter of authorization should be signed by the other parent and list their address and telephone number, as well as have attached a photocopy of this non-accompanying parent’s passport. Where the accompanying parent is separated or divorced and shares custody of the child, a copy of the legal custody documents is also required. If the parent traveling with the child enjoys sole custody, then the letter can be signed solely by this accompanying parent but a copy of the custody documents must be presented. If however, a child is entering Canada with only one parent because the other is deceased, the traveling parent should carry a copy of the relevant death certificate.
Children arriving in Canada with a legal guardian or adoptive parents should have copies of their relevant guardianship or adoption papers. In the case where minors are traveling with adults that are neither their parents or guardians, a letter of authorization is required permitting the child to enter Canada which is signed by their parents or legal guardian along with the address and telephone numbers where they can be reached. Although this letter need not be certified, a photocopy of the parents’ or legal guardian’s passport must be attached.
To make sure children traveling to Canada to spend time with family during the March school holidays period are permitted entry, obtaining the necessary supporting documents including a letter of authorization with the correct content and signatures is imperative. Although organizing this documentation may make travel here slightly more burdensome, it serves the important task of ensuring minors are able to successfully enter Canada for their visit.