Dual Citizens Need Passports Travel to Canada
Posted on 18/10/2019
Are you a dual Canadian citizen? That is, are you a citizen of Canada as well as of another country? If so, you have to have a valid Canadian passport when you either:
- travel to Canada by air, or
- transit through Canada by air.
This is the case even if you also require your passport from your original country of citizenship in order to travel there. In this case, you will need to travel with both passports, and you should ensure that both passports have expiry dates well beyond the dates on which you will be traveling.
A New Policy for Dual Canadian Citizens
This policy, which was put in place in November of 2016, is to ensure that all Canadians – whether dual citizens or not – have the appropriate travel documents on them before they board their flight to Canada. Here’s how it works:
When you check-in at the airport for your flight back to Canada, your travel document (generally your passport for dual Canadian citizens) will be scanned and checked against your immigration status. This is to ensure that you have the appropriate travel document, one that accords with your legal status in Canada.
If you don’t have the correct travel document (again this will generally be your passport if you are a dual Canadian citizen) you will not be allowed onto the flight.
For dual Canadian citizens there are 3 possible travel documents – as well as a Special Authorization to board your flight that we deal with below – that will get you on that flight back to Canada:
A valid Canadian passport:
This is the universally recognized document that shows your right to enter Canada. If it all possible before you travel abroad, make sure your Canadian passport is renewed or has about a year left to the expiry date. To renew your passport, your current passport must:
- Be valid or expired for less than 1 year;
- Have the same name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth as what will be on your new passport;
- Have a 5-year or a 10-year validity;
- Not be damaged;
- Not be reported lost or stolen;
- Have been issued when you were at least 16 years of age (A child under 16 must apply for a child’s passport and not an Adult Passport).
If you are applying for a Canadian passport for the first time and you have proof of citizenship, go here.
If you are applying for a Canadian passport for the first time and you don’t have proof of citizenship, go here to apply for a citizenship certificate. Once you have your certificate of citizenship, use the link right above to find out how to apply for a passport.
A Canadian Temporary passport:
This is an 8-page machine-readable (meaning it has codes on it that can be read by a scanner just like your normal passport) which:
- Is only used in short-term situations;
- Is only meant for urgent, provable travel situations, or urgent residency requirements;
- Is issued by a Canadian diplomatic mission;
- Is issued based on the decision of the Government of Canada consular or passport official at the diplomatic mission, on a case-by-case basis;
- Has a white cover;
- Has 4 visa pages, a bio-data page and a digital photograph;
- Does not replace a regular passport and has a limited period of validity that normally covers your emergency travel period and may be valid for up to 1 year;
- Involves signing a temporary passport exchange agreement where you have normally up to 60 days of the date of the agreement to exchange your temporary passport for a regular passport. If for some reason you don’t claim your regular passport when you hand in your temporary passport your regular passport will be held by Canadian authorities in safekeeping.
A Canadian Emergency Travel document:
These are issued in emergency situations where you cannot get a Canadian Temporary Passport and allows you to either:
- Return to Canada, or
- Travel to the nearest full-service Canadian Government office abroad.
Dual Canadian American Citizens
If you are a dual Canadian American citizen, then an exception applies, and you do not need your Canadian passport. You will need the following documents to board a flight to Canada or to board a flight that will transit through Canada:
Proof of American citizenship which is generally a U.S. passport but may also instead include:
- A NEXUS Card if you are a member.
- A FAST Card can ONLY be used for marine or land entry, NOT for air travel to Canada.
- If you are a permanent resident of the U.S. however you must have your U.S. passport and proof of residency even if you are a NEXUS or FAST member.
- If you are a NEXUS member you will also need an eTA.
You may be eligible to apply for special authorization to board your flight to Canada if:
- You have not been issued a Canadian passport that is valid on the day of your travel, and
- You have a flight that leaves for Canada in less than 10 days, and
- You have a valid passport from a visa-exempt country. Go here to see which countries are visa-exempt for travel to Canada.
As well, one of the following must be true:
- You have previously received a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship, or
- You have had a Canadian passport at some point in the past, or
- You were granted Canadian citizenship after having been a permanent resident of Canada.
If these conditions apply in your case, go here to apply for a Special Authorization to fly to Canada.
If they don’t, you can try to apply for either a Temporary Passport or an Emergency Travel Document as outlined above. Please be aware that these two options are given only on a strict case-by-case basis.
As always, the best option is to always have your valid Canadian passport whether you think you will be travelling to Canada (or from Canada) or not. Because unexpected travel plans often do occur and having to scramble to get your documentation in order makes an already stressful situation even worse. Make sure your Canadian passport is up to date. Regardless of whether you are a dual citizen. The only exception to this is Canadian American citizens and even in this case it is always easier to have both passports up to date and ready to travel with you whenever and wherever you have to go.