If you’re planning a family trip across the border to Canada, a key question is likely to come up: do kids need a passport to go to Canada? With Canada being a foreign country, you may be wondering about passport requirements for minors traveling abroad.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, children of all ages, including infants, are required to have a valid passport when traveling to Canada, whether by land, air or sea. This applies to U.S. citizen children as well as those of other nationalities.

Passport Rules for Children Entering Canada

Traveling with children can be an exciting adventure for the whole family. If you are planning a trip to Canada, it is important to understand the passport rules for children entering the country. Here is a guide to help you navigate the requirements.

Passports Required for Kids of All Ages

Regardless of their age, all children traveling to Canada must have a valid passport. This includes newborns, infants, toddlers, and teenagers. It is essential to apply for their passports well in advance of your travel dates to ensure a smooth journey.

Applying for a child’s passport involves gathering the necessary documents, such as proof of citizenship, proof of parentage, and a completed application form. The process may vary depending on your country of residence, so it is recommended to visit the official website of your country’s passport agency for detailed instructions.

Exceptions for Groups of Children

In some cases, groups of children traveling to Canada may be eligible for exceptions to the passport requirement. This typically applies to school groups, sports teams, or other organized trips. However, it is important to note that these exceptions are granted on a case-by-case basis, and certain conditions may need to be met.

If you are organizing a group trip with children to Canada, it is advisable to contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country for guidance on the specific requirements and documents needed for your group’s entry.

Alternative Travel Documents

In rare cases where a child cannot obtain a passport, alternative travel documents may be accepted for entry into Canada. These documents include a NEXUS card, an enhanced driver’s license, or a birth certificate accompanied by a valid government-issued photo ID.

It is important to note that alternative travel documents may have limitations and may not be accepted in all situations. It is recommended to check with the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country to confirm which alternative travel documents are accepted for children traveling to Canada.

Remember, it is always better to be well-prepared and have all the necessary travel documents in order to avoid any complications or delays during your trip to Canada. Plan ahead, gather the required documents, and ensure that your children have valid passports or the appropriate alternative travel documents before you embark on your family adventure.

Applying for a Child’s Passport

U.S. Passport Requirements for Minors

To travel to Canada by land or sea, U.S. citizen children under age 16 need a valid U.S. passport. Air travel to Canada requires a passport for travelers of all ages.

For children under 16, here are the child passport requirements:

  • Application form DS-11 completed by a parent/guardian
  • Certified birth certificate or citizenship certificate
  • ID of applying parent/guardian (driver’s license, passport, etc.)
  • 2×2 inch passport photos
  • Applicable fees

Both parents or legal guardians must authorize the passport application for a child under 16. If only one parent is applying, a signed form DS-3053 must also be submitted.

Gathering Documents and Filing Forms

Begin gathering your child’s documents as soon as you start planning the trip to ensure a smooth passport application process. Make copies of important documents as back-ups.

The DS-11 child passport form can be completed online or printed and completed by hand. Pay close attention to the instructions.

Most acceptance facilities, such as post offices, clerks of court, and libraries, provide passport photo services. Remember the strict passport photo requirements for size and background.

If only one parent is applying, form DS-3053 must be completed by the non-applying parent and certified with an official seal from an acceptance facility.

Where to Apply and Estimated Fees

You can submit your child’s passport application at any passport acceptance facility. There are over 8,000 facilities nationwide, including post offices, clerks of court offices, and public libraries.

The total fees for a child passport book showing the current estimated costs are:

Application fee $100
Acceptance fee $35
Expedite fee (optional) $60
Total $195

The passport card is less at $15, but is only valid for land/sea travel, not flights. Passport processing times are currently longer due to COVID-19 delays, so apply several months in advance of your trip!

With some preparation and by submitting complete applications, U.S. parents can successfully obtain passports for their kids to visit Canada and make some amazing family memories!

Traveling with Children to Canada

Traveling to Canada with children can be an exciting adventure for the whole family. However, it’s important to be well-prepared and informed about the necessary documents and procedures. Here is a guide to help you navigate the process and ensure a smooth trip.

Entering Canada by Air, Land or Sea

Whether you are traveling to Canada by air, land, or sea, children, including infants, will require a valid passport to enter the country. This applies to both Canadian and foreign children. It’s essential to ensure that your child’s passport is up-to-date and will remain valid throughout your entire stay in Canada.

If you are traveling by air, it’s worth noting that airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with children. It’s advisable to check with your airline in advance to ensure you have all the necessary documentation and information, such as any travel consent forms that may be required.

Recommended Documents to Carry

In addition to a valid passport, there are other important documents that you should carry when traveling with children to Canada. These documents can help facilitate a smooth border crossing and ensure that your child’s identity and relationship to you are properly verified:

  • Birth Certificate: Carrying a copy of your child’s birth certificate can help establish their identity and your relationship as their parent or legal guardian.
  • Consent Letter: If you are traveling alone with your child or without the other parent/legal guardian, it’s advisable to carry a consent letter signed by the absent parent/legal guardian. This letter should include their contact information, details of the trip, and permission for you to travel with the child.
  • Adoption Certificate or Custody Agreement: If applicable, carrying relevant adoption documents or custody agreements can help clarify the legal relationship between you and the child.

Having these documents readily available can help streamline the border crossing process and avoid any potential delays or complications.

Tips for Smooth Border Crossing

When traveling with children to Canada, there are a few additional tips that can contribute to a smooth border crossing:

  • Arrive Early: Allow ample time for the immigration process, especially if you are traveling during peak travel periods.
  • Be Prepared: Have all the necessary documents easily accessible, including passports, birth certificates, consent letters, and any other relevant paperwork.
  • Answer Questions Honestly: Be prepared to answer any questions regarding your travel plans and your relationship to the child. Honesty and cooperation with border officials can help expedite the process.
  • Travel Insurance: Consider obtaining travel insurance to provide financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as medical emergencies or trip cancellations.

Remember, traveling with children can be a memorable and enjoyable experience. By being well-prepared and informed about the necessary documents and procedures, you can ensure a stress-free journey and create lasting memories with your family in Canada.

Frequently Asked Questions

What If My Child’s Passport is Expired?

If your child’s passport is expired, they will need to apply for a new one before traveling to Canada. It is important to note that children’s passports expire every five years, so make sure to check the expiration date well in advance of your trip.

You can renew your child’s passport by following the same process as when you first applied, including submitting the necessary documents and paying the renewal fee. It is recommended to apply for a new passport at least six to eight weeks before your planned travel date to ensure there is enough time for processing.

Does My Child Need a Visa?

Whether or not your child needs a visa to enter Canada depends on their nationality. Citizens of certain countries may be exempt from obtaining a visa for short visits to Canada. To find out if your child requires a visa, you can check the official website of the Government of Canada or contact the Canadian embassy or consulate in your country.

It is important to plan ahead and ensure that all necessary travel documents are in order well before your trip to avoid any last-minute complications.

What About NEXUS and FAST Cards?

While NEXUS and FAST cards are primarily used for expedited border crossings for adults, children can also benefit from having these cards. The NEXUS card allows for faster processing at designated NEXUS lanes when entering Canada by land, air, or sea.

The FAST card is specifically for commercial truck drivers and is not applicable to children. These cards can be obtained by completing an application process and paying the respective fees. However, it is important to note that having a NEXUS or FAST card does not replace the need for a passport.

All travelers, including children, still require a valid passport to enter Canada.


While a passport may feel like an extra hassle, having one is a legal requirement for children of all ages to enter Canada. Applying well in advance and ensuring your child’s passport is valid for the duration of travel are crucial steps for smooth border crossing.

With passports and other recommended documents in hand, you and your kids can enjoy a fun, stress-free vacation across the border.

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