Travel with Minors to Canada

Updated on January 24, 2013
K.A. asks from Exton, PA
14 answers

We are planning a trip to Niagara Falls over Easter. I know Border Control has been tightened recently. My husband & I have passports but our 3 girls do not. They are all under the age of 7. Will we need to get them passports before they will be allowed to cross into Canada? Some websites state only a Birth Certificate would be required but we want to be prepared. Thanks!

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answers from Los Angeles on

It has been a while since I have had young kids. However, I would much rather have a passport with me rather than their birth certificate.

According to the Canadian State Department website

Children under the age of 15 only need certified birth certificates. Everyone else needs passports.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Washington DC on

You will need passports. The laws changed in 2009 and now ALL travelers - whether they be traveling via car, boat, plane, walking, etc. must have a passport to enter and leave Canada.

Children - under the age of 15 - can travel with parents - but they must have certified birth certificates. I'd much rather carry a passport instead of my child's birth certificate.

You have time. Go to your local post office (you can check to see if your local office does passports) and go there and get them done.

Good luck!! Have fun!!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

We got passports for our children specifically for traveling to Canada. Border control checked each passport for entry into Canada and back into the US. If you're traveling without both parents, you will also need a letter giving permission to take them out of the country.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I really think they would need passports. The rules all changed in recent years. Was in Canada last year and everyone had passports. Double check. Love Niagara. Love Mama Mia Italian restaurant. Used to go to Niagara often as a child. Restaurant still there 55 years later lol.

Post office would probably know for sure about passports. Just checked you Do need passports for everyone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Yes, you absolutely must have a passport. The rules coming into Canada are more lenient than they are when you return to the US. So, if by chance you were able to successfully cross the border into Canada, the chances of getting back into the US without a passport for your children is slim to none.

Get going!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Last time we went to visit our relatives in Canada, we did have to show our girls' passports. We flew there, and had to go through the whole rigamarole in the international terminal with customs and everything. :-/

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

When we travel from Canada to the US the adults need passports but the children only need birth certificates. I'm not sure if it is the same travelling US to Canada. I also need a note from my husband stating I have permission to take the kids over the border if he is not with us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If you are driving a birth certificate is fine, especially for kids. I grew up in Niagara Falls, NY and my parents still live there. Last summer when we were visiting them we walked over the bridge with the kids and had no issues at all. Unless you plan to use passports for other international travel I would not get them for the kids. It's so expensive and both parents need to go to sign the paperwork, the place is only open during work hours-huge pain! I looked into it once when I was debating taking my son and husband on a business trip to Europe but decided against for various reasons.



answers from Allentown on

Yep my brother and his family live in Canada. They have two children, both kids are Canadian citizens and both are also US citizens(both born in Canada but because my bro and SIL are only US citizens, and not Canadian the kids are also US citizens), and they still have problems at times crossing the border. When we visit, I have passports for both my kids, ages 5 and 7 now. If you will not be traveling outside north America you can get a passport card instead of a passport book, and that is much cheaper. But they really want that passport. they will accept birth certificates for children traveling with their parents. Obviously you need to be listed on the birth certificate and you need your own passport proving who you are, as they will need to inspect all documents and see the proof that these children are yours. But birth certificates do not have pics and they do not like that as you could be bringing any child in. for example I could have my sons birth certificate with me, but there is no pic so if I take my nephew thru, there is no way for them to know he is not my son, as they are about the same age(not that anyone would do this but you can see where the suspicion lies for them and why they might give a hard time). So they prefer the passports with the pics. But it can be done, but they may give you a hard time and hold you up. I think it really depends who is at the border crossing that day. On holidays they also seem to be stricter and hold people up more. I just wouldn't risk them holding you up, and I would just get the passports. Even then they can sometimes choose to hold you up. But more often than not with passports they let you right thru. You still have time to get passports for Easter, just go now and do it. That way you know you will be limiting the likelihood of something going wrong during you r trip, and with little ones it is not fun to be held up at the border.



answers from Detroit on

Just need a birth certificate unless you're flying. From :

"If a U.S. citizen traveling to Canada does not have a passport, passport card, or approved alternate document such as a NEXUS card, they must show a government-issued photo ID (e.g. Driver’s License) and proof of U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or expired U.S. passport. Children under 16 need only present proof of U.S. citizenship. (Please see below for important information concerning re-entry into the United States.)

U.S. citizens entering Canada from a third country must have a valid U.S. passport.

When returning to the United States from Canada, it is very important to note that all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States via air. For entry into the United States via land and sea borders, U.S. citizens must present either a U.S. passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License, or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document. The only exception to this requirement is for U.S. citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) who need only present a birth certificate (original, photocopy or certified copy), Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or naturalization certificate."

If you decide to get passports, I saw it takes 4 - 6 weeks. Both you and their father have to go with them to get passports.



answers from Houston on

I have heard that it depends on if you are flying or driving into the country whether you need a passport or not (I *think* it's ok just to have a birth certificate if you're driving, a passport if you're flying). We recenntly got passports for our kids for a trip overseas and I found out that there is a passport you can get for travel just within N. America. The cost is MUCH less than an international passport so you might check into that since they are so young.



answers from Washington DC on

What web sites are you using? I would not trust any other than the web site for the Canadian immigration department. Contact the Canadian government and the US government (Immigration and Customs department) for official advice. Don't go by what other sites might say because their information might be outdated.

You do not want to get to the border just to be turned away and have your entire trip ruined.


answers from Norfolk on

It's better to have passports.
I would never use birth certs for border crossings.
Passports come in handy.
You might as well get them for the kids now.


answers from Erie on

If you're going over easter, you may have time to get passport cards. If not, birth certificates for the kids are fine. We have passports for us, but for our young kids, we just got them the passport cards. much cheaper, but i think it's just for canada via car. we don't travel much internationally where we would bring them but if we did I would just get regular passports. but the passport card is a cheaper alternative if youre just going to canada. Have fun!!

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