You need the correct travel documentation in order to enter another country, or board an aircraft or other vessel heading to another country. For travel within Canada, you need a valid photo ID.
We strongly recommend that you have a valid Canada Passport for travel, even if a passport is not necessarily required. It’s worth the money. It is the best form of identification and will give you the least worry while travelling abroad, or even within Canada. Here are some additional travel documentation requirements you should know about before you travel.
Proof of Citizenship: You need to be able to prove citizenship to a customs and immigration official. A valid passport is the best way to do so. However, in the case that a passport is not required (a few popular destinations still allow have relaxed entry requirements) a Canadian Birth Certificate or a Canadian Citizenship Card or Citizenship Papers will work. A recently expired Canadian Passport MAY work in some cases (not all). The fuzziness of some countries accepting some things, and others not, make a Valid Canadian Passport your best bet. Children and infants must also prove their citizenship, and a passport is the best way, especially considering that young children have no other photo ID.
Photo ID: A passport also provides positive proof of your photo ID in the same document as citizenship. Countries that have relaxed entry requirements for Canadian Tourists will allow a valid Drivers License or a Health Card for official photo ID. In some cases, a recently expired passport is also allowed, but not always. Children and infants must have positive photo ID, and since they don’t drive, either a Health Card or a Passport is the only way. Children travelling with parents on domestic flights within Canada should carry photo id if they have it, but it is less of a problem for small children. The reason is, there is no restriction on mobility within Canada, or fear of abduction of children.
Passport Validity: Some countries require that passports do not expire for a certain period of time beyond intended travel. This is because there can be a track record of people coming on a one or two week ticket, but actually staying on. It can vary between the actual expiry date, 30 days, 60 days, 3 months, and 6 months beyond the expiry date of the passport. Each country is different. You cannot assume that because your passport has not expired in Canada, that it is good enough for entry into your destination country.
Visas: Some countries still require visas. A visa is a method of controlling entry in and out of a country, and knowing how many and where visitors are located within that country. Some are more stringent than others. Getting a visa can be cumbersome, and there are services to obtain visas in order to eliminate the inconvenience. It often requires sending your passport in with the application so that the visa can be affixed, and a fee being paid. Sometimes the country will allow a visa application and fee paid on arrival – this can slow down your entry but it can be much more convenient than obtaining it in advance.
Consent for Children to Travel: If a child is travelling without both parents, extra documentation is required but not always necessarily shown. If you have sole custody of your child, you will have to prove it when travelling without the other parent. You will need copies of your custody order. If you have joint custody of a minor, you will need notarized consent to travel from the other parent. This document is not a blanket consent, but specific to a trip or limited period of time. It must be notarized or commissioned in advance.
If you are travelling with a child with neither parent, both joint custody parents must sign notarized consent, or the parent with sole custody. You must have this with you when leaving Canada. It is not uncommon however, for airline staff and immigration officials to not ask for these documents, but if they ask, and you don’t have them, you may be denied boarding on the flight with no refund. It’s not worth the risk. Get notarized consent in advance.
Criminal Records: Some countries, particularly the USA cooperate with Canada to monitor the activities of known criminals. If you have a criminal record for which a pardon has not been granted, you will likely be denied entry to the USA and perhaps other countries. We do not ask our clients if they have criminal records. The onus is upon you to disclose it and for us to then check if it will affect entry into the country in question.
The following applies to Canadian Citizens. Citizens of other countries should contact us immediately for advice on entry requirements to your destination. We recommend strongly that you pack photocopies of all your documentation, and leave a copy or electronic scan with someone at home – just in case.
Travellers are reminded that while travelling abroad, you are subject to the laws of the host country. We suggest strongly that you refrain from any unlawful activity while travelling. Travel Advisories exist for some countries; if you ignore the warnings you do so at your own risk. We suggest that you have the phone number of the Canadian and U.S. embassy with you at all times if you are not travelling independantly (not part of a package or organized tour).