American minors, children under the age of 18, must meet specific requirements when crossing the Canadian/American border. Each of the countries has its own documentation guidelines and border regulations in place regarding minors crossing the border. In addition, children traveling without their parents may be required to have additional documentation before entry into Canada is granted.
Minors Entering Canada
All minors entering Canada must present evidence of citizenship, such as a government-issued birth certificate, a passport or passport card at the Canadian border. The child's parent or guardian should also have proof of the child's identity. In most cases, the same document, a birth certificate or passport, can be used to establish both citizenship and identity. Children entering Canada as tourists are not required to hold a visa, so long as the visit is for less than 180 days.
Minors Returning to the United States
All children returning to the United States from Canada by air must hold a valid U.S. passport. Minors who are under the age of 16 and crossing the border by land or sea may present a government-issued birth certificate, consular report of birth abroad or naturalization certificate to reenter the country. Older children must present a passport, passport card, an enhanced driver's license or a NEXUS card. However, all minors traveling with a school or other educational group may use a birth certificate for re-entry into the United States by land or sea.
All minors crossing the border without two parents must travel with additional documentation. Children traveling without a parent or traveling with a single parent who does not have sole custody must be accompanied by a signed and notarized letter stating the absent parent's approval of the visit. The letter should also provide the current telephone number and address of the absent parent. In the event that a parent or guardian has sole legal custody of a child, paperwork stating such should also be presented to avoid delays.
Large groups of family or friends crossing the Canadian border at the same time must ensure that all children arrive at the border in the same vehicle as their parents or guardians to avoid confusion and possible delays at the border. In the event at proper documentation is not presented for each minor crossing the border, additional screenings are likely, notes the Canadian Border Services Agency.