You are currently viewing Travel rules for children: ultimate guide

Understanding how to travel is really not complicated for adults. For kids, it’s a little different since there are a few special rules in some countries, but it’s still not that complicated to learn if you take the time. Flytrippers is here to help you.

So here is a guide about travel rules for children specifically, by popular demand.

 

The basics of travel rules

Here is the infographic that summarizes how to travel (as explained in our ultimate guide to pandemic travel).

View the full size image or share on Facebook

 

For any trip, no matter where you’re going, no matter if you’re going with kids or not, no matter ANYTHING…

… There are always just 3 simple steps:

  • Follow the rules to board a plane departing from Canada
  • Follow the rules of entry for the places you are going to
  • Follow the rules of entry for your return to Canada

So for the rules for children, I’m going to go one step at a time to keep it just as simple (and I’ve added the rules for adults as a reminder).

 

Step 1: Rules to board a plane departing from Canada

Here are the specific details of these rules for children.

 

Overview of step 1 rules

Children under 12 years and 4 months:

  • No requirements at all
  • NO test required, as is the case since the beginning of the pandemic

Children 12 years and 4 months and older who are vaccinated:

  • No requirements at all
  • NO test required, as is the case since the beginning of the pandemic

Children 12 years and 4 months and older who are NOT vaccinated:

  • Boarding a plane is not allowed*

Adults who are vaccinated:

  • No requirements at all
  • NO test required, as is the case since the beginning of the pandemic

Adults who are NOT vaccinated:

  • Boarding a plane is not allowed*

*Certain exemptions exist, but they are not practical or affordable

 

Children under 12 years and 4 months

It’s very simple, the vaccination requirement that applies to flights departing from a Canadian airport does not apply at all to children under the age of 12 years and 4 months.

For them, it’s the same as since the beginning of the pandemic (and the same as for all vaccinated travelers): They do not need a test to board a plane departing from Canada.

This might change soon now that Canada has approved vaccines for younger children.

 

Children 12 years and 4 months and older

For those over 12 years and 4 months, it’s just as simple.

Since they can be vaccinated (especially with this 4 months delay given to them), the same rules as for adults apply: be vaccinated or be banned from planes.

 

Sidenote about the vaccination requirement to board a plane

In case you were tempted to believe the government when it says that banning unvaccinated people from planes is vital to protect Canadians, note that this new measure really doesn’t mean that everyone on board is going to be vaccinated.

(Not to mention that even us vaccinated travelers can also spread the virus and we don’t even need to be tested… while the unvaccinated could at least be tested and possibly even be less of a risk than we are.)

The thing is that there are exemptions to this mandatory vaccination requirement, most notably that all unvaccinated and untested foreign travelers can still transit via Canada and be on those same flights sitting next to you.

(Not that you should be worried, since factually air quality is better in planes than in all buildings on the ground thanks to the great HEPA filters.)

 

Step 2: Rules to enter other countries for children

Here are the specific details of these rules for children.

 

Overview of step 2 rules

Each country makes its own rules.

This is the most important thing to understand about travel rules, plain and simple.

 

Explanation

Travel rules are not harmonized in any country (not for children, not for anything):

  • Some countries exempt all children from all requirements
  • Some countries exempt children from testing requirements
  • Some countries exempt children from quarantine requirements
  • Some countries do not exempt children from any requirements at all

It depends on the country. Even the maximum age for exemptions, if any, also varies in each country.

And it will always be this way, since every country has always made its own rules (that has nothing to do with the pandemic at all).

You have no choice but to look at the entry rules of the countries to choose where you want to go anyway…

For the most popular country for Canadians, we have a detailed guide on how to travel to the United States that includes a section with the rules for children specifically (their rules for children are completely different from ours obviously).

For all other countries, you need to read the entry rules for Canadians on your own. Again, it is vital that you do this even for the rules for adults anyway.

 

Step 3: Rules to enter Canada for children

Here are the specific details of these rules for children.

 

Overview of step 3 rules

Children under the age of 5 traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No testing requirements
  • No quarantine and no more special rules for school/daycare
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children under the age of 5 NOT traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No testing requirements
  • 14-day quarantine
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children 5 to 12 years old who are vaccinated:

  • No quarantine and no special rules for school
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random free arrival tests
    • No isolation until results are received

Children 5 to 12 years old who are not vaccinated and traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • No quarantine and no special rules for school
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random free arrival tests
    • No isolation until results are received

Children 5 to 12 years old who are not vaccinated NOT traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

Children over 12 years old who are vaccinated:

  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random free arrival tests
    • No isolation until results are received

Children over 12 years old who are NOT vaccinated:

Adults who are vaccinated:

  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Random free arrival tests
    • No isolation until results are received

Adults who are NOT vaccinated:

 

Important distinction

Note that Canada’s entry rules do not include a special 4-month period to give kids some time to get vaccinated, unlike Canada’s vaccination requirement to board a plane departing from the country (step 1).

Entry rules apply starting at 12 years old, not starting at 12 years and 4 months.

Yes, both are rules by the government of Canada, but both have different definitions of what an exempt child is… also, in step 1, children are exempt even if they travel with non-vaccinated people, but not for this step…

That’s why we keep telling you something very simple as a concept: ALL travel rules are completely separate and yet 90% of people mix everything up unfortunately.

The rules to enter Canada have absolutely nothing to do with the rules to board a plane departing from Canada. Completely separate. And none of Canada’s rules have anything to do with other countries’ rules, obviously.

 

Special rules for school/daycare

No longer in effect.

 

Molecular pre-departure test

This requirement is exactly the same for children or adults, except that those under 5 are exempt.

You can read our post about Canada’s pre-departure testing requirement and we’ll have many posts about COVID-19 tests for travel soon.

 

ArriveCAN application

It’s very simple, since answering a few questions is not very complicated. But it’s still mandatory.

I also shared an ultimate guide to Canada’s ArriveCAN app to give you every possible detail.

 

14-day quarantine

This is for those who are not vaccinated and it is exactly the same for the rare children who are not exempt.

You can read our section about Canada’s quarantine requirement, but it’s really not complicated to understand.

You cannot leave your home for 14 days. You cannot even use a shared hallway if you are in a shared building. Even if you test negative to both arrival tests.

In fact, in a way, you’d be better off testing positive on the Day 1 test: you’d only have 10 days of quarantine required instead of 14!

 

Arrival tests (vaccinated)

The arrival test program is still ongoing, but your chances of being selected are very low.

You do not need to isolate yourself while awaiting the results.

The tests are free, or rather taxpayer-funded (like all COVID-19 tests in Canada that aren’t for travelers).

 

Arrival tests (unvaccinated)

The tests are free, or rather taxpayer-funded (like all COVID-19 tests in Canada that aren’t for travelers).

Children over the age of 5 who are unvaccinated do not have to do these tests, unless they are not traveling with a vaccinated parent.

You can read our section about Canada’s arrival test requirement, or you can watch my video showing how the Day 8 self-administered tests work.

 

Want to learn how to start traveling again?

Sign up for our free newsletter

 

Summary

Travel rules for children in Canada are very simple, as long as you just take the time to read them (like all other travel rules).

What would you like to know about travel rules for children? Tell us in the comments below.

 

See the deals we spot: Cheap flights

Explore awesome destinations: Travel inspiration

Learn pro tricks: Travel tips

Discover free travel: Travel rewards

 

Featured image: Child on a plane (photo credit: Octav Cado)

Advertiser Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, Flytrippers may receive a commission on links featured in this post, at no cost to you. Thank you for using our links to support us for free, we appreciate it! You allow us to keep finding the best travel deals for free and to keep offering interesting content for free. Since we care deeply about our mission to help travelers and our reputation and credibility prevail over everything, we will NEVER recommend a product or service that we do not believe in or that we do not use ourselves, and we will never give any third-party any control whatsoever on our content. For more information on our advertiser disclosure, click here.

Share this post to help us help more people travel more for less:

Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 64/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hugh

    Hi Andrew:

    This is very helpful. Thank you. Andrew, we are travelling to France in July, do you know of any restrictions to France? We are all tripled vaccinated. My daughter will be 12 and not yet 13 before returning to Canada, could I just add her to my ArriveCan app or should she get her own on her phone? Thanks again!

  2. Mel

    Hi, So unvaccinated child travelling with vaccinated parents from Canada to the US via land border crossing has no requirements, but coming back to Canada from the US (2 week trip) child & parents would have to take a molecular test 3 days prior to coming back into Canada and child would have to stay away from school for 14 days? Did I get that right? Do you know what the cost of a molecular test in the US would be or how easy they are to obtain? Thanks so much! this is so helpful! (travel isn’t until April so many things may change by then also)

  3. Ed

    If children ( I have girls who are 9 and 6) are fully vaccinated, do they still have to adhere to the rules like not attending school, camp or day care for 14 days after arrival back in Canada from the USA? If not what is required of them? We might go to the States at the end of March.

Leave a Reply