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. Some rules are much more limiting, 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 **NEW**
  • 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

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

  • No requirements at all

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

  • 72-hour pre-departure molecular test*

Adults who are vaccinated:

  • No requirements at all

Adults who are NOT vaccinated:

  • 72-hour pre-departure molecular test*

*Special exemption until November 30 (or maybe later… to be continued)

 

Children under 12 years and 4 months

It’s very simple, the new requirement that applies to flights departing from Canada 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 once Canada approves 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 do a test… and possibly be banned from planes very soon.

 

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 are at least tested—assuming they follow the rules since there is no systematic verification.)

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, but special rules for children (see below)
  • Requirements for 14 days
  • 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 traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • Free tests upon arrival on Day 1 and Day 8
  • No quarantine, but special rules for children (see below)
  • Requirements for 14 days
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children 5 to 12 yead old NOT traveling with someone who is vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • Free tests upon arrival on Day 1 and Day 8
  • 14-day quarantine
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Children over 12 years old who are vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Requirements for 14 days

Children over 12 years old who are NOT vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • Free tests upon arrival on Day 1 and Day 8
  • 14-day quarantine
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

Adults who are vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out
  • Requirements for 14 days

Adults who are NOT vaccinated:

  • 72-hour molecular pre-departure test*
  • Free tests upon arrival on Day 1 and Day 8
  • 14-day quarantine
  • ArriveCAN app must be filled out

*Proof of a positive test from 14 to 180 days prior gives an exemption to the pre-departure test requirement (for all ages)

*Starting November 30, the pre-departure test requirement will be eliminated for trips shorter than 72 hours for vaccinated travelers and accompanying children under the age of 12

 

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 children

These special rules for children apply for the first 14 days, only for those who are exempt from quarantine (those under 12 traveling with someone who is vaccinated).

This is NOT the same as quarantine: In quarantine, you can’t even be in the street in front of your house. You can’t even go into the shared hallway of your building if you don’t live in a house. That is a quarantine.

Children under 12 do not have a quarantine. They just have special rules to follow.

(It’s an important distinction because ALL details matter when it comes to travel rules. Ask this author if details matter… she missed a detail of the US entry rules and so she obviously was not allowed in. So yes, details matter… and this is not a quarantine.)

The Government of Canada being the Government of Canada… there are 2 separate formulations for these special rules for children:

  • The rules they mention on their website
  • The rules they send by email

It would be too much to ask for both messages to say the same thing.

Of course, it’s pretty similar, but I prefer to still list both of them so you can see all the rules and not leave room for subjectivity (or at least, not more than their rules already do).

First, here is what the government website says (bolding is from their website):

For 14 days after arrival, the child must not:

  • Attend school, camp, or day care
  • Attend a setting where they may have contact with vulnerable people (e.g., long-term care facility), including people who are immunocompromised, regardless of that person’s vaccination status or public health measures
  • Travel on crowded public transportation that does not ensure physical distancing and masking
  • Attend large crowded settings, indoors or outdoors, such as an amusement park or sporting event

Also:

  • The child should stay in a place that allows the child to avoid all contact with any person that:
    • Has an underlying medical condition that makes the person susceptible to complications related to COVID-19
    • Has a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment
    • Is 65 years of age or older
  • The child must remain with their fully vaccinated parent or guardian as much as possible
  • The child must wear a mask and physically distance when in contact with non-household members

Second, here are the rules in the email travelers receive upon arrival (bolding and capitalization is from the email):

  • Do not attend school, camp or day care
  • Avoid contact with vulnerable persons
  • Avoid crowded public settings including parks and sporting events
  • Wear a mask AT ALL TIMES in both indoor and outdoor public settings when these spaces cannot be avoided
  • Remain with their fully vaccinated parent or guardian as much as possible

Basically, it’s not nearly as strict as the quarantine I’ve done 5 times… but it’s still very limiting for sure.

The most important rules are clear, but with the other phrases like “as much as possible”, I can understand that some people are confused about whether it’s a real rule… or just a recommendation.

Flytrippers recommends to always follow all the rules, since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Molecular pre-departure test

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

We’ll have many posts about travel testing soon, but in the meantime you can read our section about Canada’s pre-departure testing requirement.

 

Requirements for 14 days

There are 5 other lesser-known requirements that apply to vaccinated adults for 14 days and they also apply to unvaccinated children who are exempt from quarantine.

Here they are:

  • Maintain a list of the names and contact information of each person with whom you came into close contact
  • Maintain a list of locations visited
  • Wear a well-constructed, well-fitting mask in “public settings”
  • Keep a copy of all test results and proof of vaccine
  • Report any symptoms to the Public Health Agency of Canada (and your provincial agency)

The last 2 apply to unvaccinated travelers too actually.

It’s the first time I hear about this myself, since it’s the first time I return from abroad since Canada’s science gives exemptions to vaccinated travelers.

(But not the first time I return from abroad while being vaccinated, as I explained in my post about my experience entering Canada last week.)

Considering the federal government’s track record in terms of contact tracing since the beginning of the pandemic, you will excuse me for being skeptical about the monitoring of these measures…

 

ArriveCAN application

You can read my experience with the ArriveCAN app last week, it’s a summary since answering a few questions is not very complicated. But it’s still mandatory.

I took more screenshots than that, so maybe I will share a step-by-step process as we know how so many people love having someone hold them by the hand, even for something that is frankly very very simple.

 

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. You cannot even use a shared hallway if you are in a shared building. Even if you test negative to both arrival tests.

 

Arrival tests

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 have to do these tests just like unvaccinated adults.

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).

Leave a Reply