Important Travel Information
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Protecting Our Borders and Skies
The Government of Canada is working to enhance Canadians’ personal security and protect their economic health. Through its various departments and agencies and with partners in Canada and abroad, the Government is taking action to increase intelligence and policing, to improve the screening of people coming to Canada, to make air travel more secure, and to ensure Canada’s borders are secure and efficient.Whether you’re travelling inside Canada or beyond its borders, whether you’re flying on business or vacation, preparation is your ticket to a smoother trip. This brochure contains some useful tips to help you travel smart, and a number of important facts about enhanced security procedures now in place to protect our borders and skies.
Government of Canada Actions
The Government of Canada has taken many actions to enhance Canadians’ personal and economic security. These include:
Increased Intelligence and Policing
Better intelligence and enhanced policing will help prevent terrorism, deal with terrorists and – where mandated – have them removed from the country. We have increased resources to:
- equip and deploy more intelligence officers and investigative personnel;
- improve coordination among law enforcement, intelligence and security agencies; and
- boost marine security through greater funding for coastal surveillance.
We are bolstering international networks and partnerships, sharing information and intelligence, linking technology, and collaborating in joint efforts, such as Integrated Border Enforcement Teams and Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams. These teams will help Canadian and U.S. agencies collect, share and analyze information and improve our enforcement activities.
Enhanced Screening of Entrants to Canada
Canada welcomes visitors, immigrants and refugees who want to live peacefully in this country. But the Government recognizes that authorities must be able to identify and exclude people who pose a risk to Canada and the rest of the world – and has taken steps to do so. These initiatives include:
- enhanced screening measures overseas for people en route to Canada;
- more resources for detentions and removals;
- new fraud-resistant Permanent Resident Cards; and
- the new Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and regulations to update the federal immigration and refugee system.
Making Travel More Secure
The Canadian passport will continue to be a highly secure document. New measures to bolster its security and integrity include:
- enhanced background checks;
- additional reference and documentation requirements; and
- electronic verification processes.
Canada has one of the safest and most secure air transportation systems in the world. We’re working with partners to make our system even better – with the introduction of new technologies and state-of-the-art equipment, more rigorous security procedures, improved aircraft design, and the creation of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority to oversee passenger and carry-on baggage screening. Security actions include:
- armed undercover police officers on Canadian aircraft and enhanced policing at airports;
- better trained personnel to screen passengers and baggage; and
- new state-of-the-art explosives detection systems at Canadian airports.
Ensuring a Secure and Efficient Border
Every day, close to $2 billion worth of goods and services crosses the Canada-U.S. border. Given the magnitude of this two-way trade, maintaining a secure and efficient border is critical to both countries. Through the Smart Border Action Plan, Canada and the United States are:
- Implementing joint programs to speed the flow of low-risk travellers and goods between our two countries;
- deploying better equipment for detecting explosives, firearms and other dangers – without delaying the flow of low-risk people or goods; and
- improving infrastructure that supports major border crossings.
BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Redesigned passports were gradually introduced from May until December 2002. However, your current passport is valid and secure and need not be replaced until it expires.
- If you need a passport, plan ahead. When applying for a passport, ensure that your application is fully and properly completed.
- If you apply in person, our goal is to have your passport ready within 10 working days. If you mail in your application, our goal is to have your passport in the mail 20 working days after receiving your application.
- For children under three years of age, a passport is issued for a maximum of three years. The fee is $20.
- For children three to 15 years of age, the passport will be valid for a maximum of five years. The fee is $35.
- For adults (16 years old and over), the passport will be valid for a maximum of five years. The fee is $85.
- For your safety, you should carry other pieces of photo ID with you separately in case of loss or theft.
Effective November 26, 2001, only the following identity documents are accepted as proof of Canadian citizenship for Quebec-born applicants:
- a birth certificate issued after January 1, 1994, by Le Directeur de l’état civil in the province of Quebec; or
- a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship.
Please note that baptismal and birth certificates issued by Quebec religious, municipal or judicial authorities will no longer be accepted.
Plants, Animals and Food
- Meat and dairy products, nuts, plants, fruits and live animals, if allowed into Canada, may require permits issued in Canada in advance, and/or certificates from the country of origin. All items must be clean and free of pests and soil.
- Many live animals require permits. Often animals require a health inspection in the country of origin. A domestic dog or cat travelling with the owner need only meet the rabies certification requirements.
- Prior to leaving Canada, if you are planning to import fish or agricultural items, contact Canadian Food Inspection Agency Import Service Centres or pick up their brochure, What can I bring into Canada? It’s available at airports or on the Agency’s Web site (see contact information at the end of this brochure).
- If you are planning to import wild animals, fish or plants, you should also consult the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (see contact information).
Fly Smart, Fly Secure
If you are planning a trip by air, here are some useful tips about what to expect going through airport security and how to avoid unnecessary delays.
- Make sure there are no sharp objects in your carry-on luggage. Items such as scissors and metal nail files should be packed in your checked bag. If you are not sure, check with your airline.
- Passengers are asked to ensure that electronic devices such as cell phones or laptop computers are working, as they may be asked to turn them on for inspection.
- Pack prescription medication in its original labeled container. Syringes and needles for personal medical use must have the needle guard in place, and be accompanied by the medication in its original container.
- Never wrap or package gifts. Security personnel may need to inspect them.
- Pack your own bags – never let someone else do it.
- Bring appropriate government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s licence for domestic travel, or a passport for international travel. You may be required to show it at the check-in counter and again before boarding your flight. Contact your travel agent for more information.
- Arrive at the airport early. For international travel, make sure to arrive two to three hours before your scheduled departure time. Check with your airline to find out more about check-in time allowances.
- Be sure to check with your airline for more information – there may be additional requirements not listed here.
When visiting a foreign country, here are a few things to consider before purchasing items to bring home.
- Some animals and plants – as well as many products made from animals or plants – may not be brought back into Canada.
- Items made from turtle shells, ivory, coral, certain woods or barks, skins, teeth or claws, for example, could be made from endangered species, which are regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
- Illegally smuggling such items into the country could result in fines or prison terms, so it is always best to verify which items can or cannot be brought back before returning to Canada.
Our customs officers want to make your return as pleasant and problem-free as possible. As well as stopping goods that could threaten our health, environment and agriculture, customs officers watch for missing children and may ask detailed questions about the children who are travelling with you.
- Make sure you carry proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you. Depending on which country you are travelling from, proper identification could include birth certificates, baptismal certificates, passports, visitor or immigrant visas, citizenship cards, records of landing, or certificates of Indian status.
- When you return to Canada, you have to declare all goods you purchased or received abroad including gifts, prizes, or awards that you are bringing with you, or are having shipped to you. This of course includes goods purchased at a Canadian or foreign duty-free shop.
- Travellers who intentionally fail to declare restricted or prohibited products may be fined.
- If you aren’t sure if an article is admissible or should be declared, always declare it first and then seek clarification from the customs officer. Remember that customs officers are there to assist and will help you work out your personal exemption and any duties you owe in the way that benefits you most.
- Have a valid Canadian passport for all trips outside Canada; it is the most acceptable document for proving your identity and your right to re-enter Canada. Birth and baptismal certificates are no longer accepted without accompanying valid photo identification.
- Make sure that you have all of the appropriate documents when travelling with your child as well as to be aware of any regulations and conditions that may affect your trip.
- Ensure that you are able to answer detailed questions about your luggage and can provide quick and easy access to all suitcases and packages.
- Be aware of airline regulations for carry-on luggage. For specific information, please contact your airline or refer to the Canadian Transportation Agency.
- Be aware of any health safety requirements for foreign travel. In case of local health concerns, rigid health screening procedures or quarantines may be imposed. Consult the Public Health Agency of Canada' s Travel Medicine Program as well as the Medical Matters and Medical
- Be patient and follow orders of security officials at all times. Avoid comments about security measures that could be misinterpreted and cause undue problems.
- Research your destination by the Current Issues section, and monitor local developments and news broadcasts carefully for up-to-date details about events that could affect your travel plans.
- Pack your own bags and be ready to answer questions about all contents. Never wrap or package gifts.
- Never leave your luggage unattended and never take anything across a border for someone else.
- Make sure there are no sharp objects or items that might be considered weapons, such as nail files and medical syringes, in your carry-on luggage. Such items should be packed in your checked bag. It is best to check with your airline for further details.
- Ensure electronic devices, such as cell phones, laptop computers and electronic games, are charged and ready to be turned on for inspection. Without proper inspection, you will not be allowed to take them on board.
- Pack prescription medication in its original container, accompanied by the doctor's original prescription. Syringes for personal medical use must have the needle guard in place. For more information, consult FAQs on Medical Matters and the brochure Drugs and Travel: Why They Don't Mix.
If You Have a Criminal Record
- If you have a criminal record, no matter how minor or how long ago the offence, you may be refused entry to the United States or encounter problems in transit through its airports. A pardon issued by Canadian authorities is not recognized for purposes of entry to the U.S. If you have a criminal record, you should contact the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your trip. You may apply for a waiver of ineligibility, Form I-192, "Advance Permission to enter the U.S."
Transportation companies, such as airlines and rail and bus services, are required to ensure that all passengers that they bring to Canada have satisfactory evidence of their identity and status in Canada, if any. For international travel purposes, the Canadian Certificate of Citizenship (citizenship card) accompanied by a non-Canadian passport is not reliable evidence that the holder is a Canadian citizen. A passport is the only reliable and universally accepted identification document to establish identity and Canadian citizenship while travelling outside Canada. It proves that you have a right to return to Canada.
Due to increased scrutiny of international travellers by airlines and immigration authorities around the world, Canadian citizens attempting to travel to Canada without a valid Canadian passport will be subject to additional verifications that may delay or prevent travel. To avoid delays and other problems that will hinder their return to Canada, Canadian citizens are strongly advised to obtain a Canadian passport prior to initiating international travel and to use their Canadian passport at all times for international travel. Before attempting return travel to Canada, Canadian citizens who do not hold a valid Canadian passport should contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad to apply for one.