Understand Passports for Children with This Family Law Guide


We often see family law cases where parents have difficulty getting passports for their kids younger than 16. Usually, the custodial parent is allowed to apply for a passport, but the process can be quite difficult. Even though you’d expect it to be straightforward, it’s only sometimes the case. Service Canada requires both parents to sign the passport application for a child unless there is a court order stating that one parent has sole custody. This is because the guidelines used by Service Canada refer to the rights of both parents in terms of custody and access.  

In simpler terms, custody and access laws have changed in recent years. Where previously, the language of custody and access were used, they have been replaced by parenting responsibilities and parenting time or contact. This change is reflected in the Family Law Act, which was introduced in British Columbia on March 18, 2013. In the Divorce Act, custody and access are still used.

However, Service Canada will only issue a passport to a child with both parents’ signatures if the agreement or order regarding the child’s custody does not specify which parent has primary custody or if it only mentions parenting responsibilities and contact time. 

When one parent is not present, getting a passport for a child can be difficult. This can happen when a parent moves away, or there is a lack of contact between the parent and the child. In these cases, extra steps may be taken to ensure the child can get a passport.

How Can Parents Resolve This?

Making a plan ahead of time for obtaining a passport is a great way to ensure that there are no issues in the future. It is advisable to give one parent the sole responsibility of obtaining or renewing a passport for the child in the court order or agreement. This will simplify the process and prevent disagreements or confusion concerning family law.

Suppose there is a concern that one parent may try to obtain a passport for the child without the other parent’s knowledge or consent. In that case, it should be specified in the agreement or court order that both parents must agree to any passport application. This ensures that a passport cannot be issued without both parents signing off. 

It should also specify who will hold the passport when it is not being used for travel and when and under what conditions it will be given to the parent travelling with the child. Taking the time to follow these steps now can save time and hassle.

Another way to prevent the other parent from obtaining a passport without your consent is to include a clause in your agreement or court order that both parents have joint custody when it comes to obtaining a passport. Additionally, the agreement should state who is in charge of holding the passport between trips and under what conditions it will be given to the parent who needs to travel. Addressing these matters ahead of time can save a lot of hassle.


Since children in Canada are legally defined as 17 years old and below, they still require parental supervision when acquiring their passports. Getting both adults to sign off on the matter is easier if their parents are still together. If not, preparations and provisions must be ensured to avoid emotional and logistical hassles.

The legal interests of your children are our greatest concern; that’s why Dreyer and Associates focuses on matters such as divorce and separation, child support, spousal support, family mediation, and family law in Langley. Book a session with one of our attorneys today. 





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