Published on: Jul 25, 2019
Any visitor arriving in Canada that is under the age of 18 is considered to be a minor, or child, under Canadian immigration rules. These individuals are subject to the same immigration rules as any other visitor, regardless of their age.
Travelling to Canada with a minor requires a thorough understanding of the requirements, otherwise the minor and the accompanying adults will likely not be authorized to board an airplane to Canada. This guide will provide the representative or a parent/guardian with information on completing the eTA application form on behalf of a child travelling to Canada.
Does each member of my family or travel group need an eTA, including babies?
Regardless of age, each member in a travel group will need to apply for an eTA, either on their own or by a parent or legal guardian applying on their behalf. One eTA cannot be used for multiple applicants. There are no exceptions to these rules, even for families or babies.
Can I apply for an eTA on behalf of my child?
Parents or legal guardians may apply for an eTA on behalf of their child or the minor they are supervising. On the application form, parents or legal guardians will need to specify that they are applying on behalf of someone else, as well as specify that the applicant is a child. The application will prompt the parent or legal guardian to provide information about themselves, along with travel, passport, and personal information about the child.
Additional documentation will be required if a child is not travelling with both parents. This is to ensure that both parents of the child permit the journey. The additional documentation required is as follows:
1) Child’s passport – a valid passport of the child must be available for inspection by border officials.
2) Birth certificate - A black and white or colour copy of the child birth certificate.
3) Non-accompanying parent identification - A black and white or colour copy of the non-travelling parent’s signed passport page or national identification card, or a copy of both parents signed passport page or national identification card if the child is travelling with an individual that is not a parent or legal guardian.
4) Custody agreement – Separated or divorced parents with shared custody should have a copy of legal custody agreements that have been signed and witnessed by legal representatives.
5) Consent letter – A recent letter signed by the non-travelling parent(s), that acknowledges and authorizes the travel plans to or through Canada. The letter should have been signed and dated within the past 12 months. This letter should be written in English or French, and contain the contact details of the parent(s), such as their home address, email address and telephone number. The letter should be notarized or witnessed by a non-related third-party to better ensure that Canadian border officials would be more confident in its authenticity. If the parents have joint custody, then they should both sign the authorization letter permitting the travel. If one parent has sole custody after a divorce, the letter must be signed by only that parent and the travelling parent should also bring evidence of relevant custody papers. Minors or children travelling with an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian will need written permission from both child’s parents or guardian(s) that they have been granted the right to travel with the child.
6) Deceased parents – If one of the child’s parents are deceased, the travelling parent or guardian should bring copies of the death certificate to present to border officials. If both of the child’s parents are deceased, then the legal guardian should bring a notarized copy of the guardianship, or adoption papers in the circumstance where the child has been adopted.
Minors that are trying to enter Canada either alone or with unrelated parents or legal guardians are usually scrutinized more carefully given that border officials are trained to look out for instances where there may be a potential for missing or runaway children to travel to Canada. Thus, unrelated parents or legal guardians travelling with children, or children travelling by themselves should be diligent in possessing the required documentation when arriving at the Canadian border.
The required documents for unaccompanied minors travelling alone are as follows:
1) Passport – the child must bring their own passport and cannot use that of a parent or legal guardian.
2) Birth certificate – the child must bring a copy of their birth certificate.
3) Consent letter – the consent, or authorization, letter should be written in English or French, and be signed as well as witnessed by a third-party or notarized. The letter should contain the name and contact details of both parents, such as their address, telephone number and email address. In addition to the parent’s contact details, the letter should also contain the name, address, telephone and email address of the individual(s) who will host or take care of the child while they are in Canada.
Minors that are travelling to Canada either alone, with one parent or with an unrelated adult will usually undergo additional screening. Thus, the caretakers of minors or children travelling unaccompanied or accompanied to Canada will need to ensure that the relevant documentation has been obtained prior to departure.