Ensuring your travel documents, especially your passport and visa, are ready before you leave is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your departure. Inquire with your host country’s embassy or consulate for passport and visa requirements.
You will need to have a valid passport before you can go abroad. Your passport is not only your identification abroad, but it also gives you access to consular services when needed.
Your passport is your most important document while travelling overseas, usually containing copies of your visas as well as your personal information.
Always keep your passport in a safe and dry place, do not give others your passport information unless absolutely necessary, and ensure that you have a copy of your passport information either in electronic form or left with a family member or friend.
Before travelling, you should make sure:
- Your passport contains empty visa pages. If the pages of your passport have become filled with visas or entry and exit stamps, you will need to apply for a new passport.
- You have made copies of your passport, including a copy of your passport and medical/travel insurance to keep with you at all times.
- You have shared your itinerary and other important documents (e.g. passport and travel/medical insurance) you’re bringing with you with close family and friends.
Dual citizenship means that you are a citizen of more than one country. While holding multiple citizenships is possible in Canada, other countries may not recognize multiple citizenships.
- If you hold dual citizenship, you should contact the consulate before going abroad to get advice on which passport to travel on, and to better understand the laws associated with your specific situation.
- If you have dual citizenship, U of T recommends that you to travel on your Canadian passport so that you may access Canadian consular services as you will be conducting activity connected to a Canadian university.
- As of 2016, dual Canadian citizens require a valid Canadian passport to travel or transit through Canada. If the country to which you are travelling requires you to use a different passport to enter, you will need to bring both passports with you, as you will need the Canadian passport to return to Canada.
- If you are not travelling on a Canadian passport and are from a visa exempt country and travelling by air, you may need an Electronic Travel Authorization to return to Canada.
All of your travel documents should be valid not only before travelling, but also throughout the entire length of your travels. You should check:
- The expiry dates of your travel documents, both visas and passports. It takes time to renew a travel document, so the earlier the better.
- Your passport is valid for a certain period (usually 6 months) after your date of return. Some countries may be very strict on this rule and won’t let you enter without this length of validity.
- The expiration of other documents that may be attached to your passport, such as visas and permits. In some cases, if your passport expires, the visa and/or permit does automatically as well.
- If you need support in renewing any travel documents, please consult with the consulate or embassy of your home country.
If you lose your passport or if it is stolen, you’ll need to follow these steps:
1. File a local police report.
When you apply for a replacement document at the consulate, you will be asked if you have filed a police report and why or why not. Having the police report demonstrates that you have tried your best to find your passport.
2. Go to the consulate/embassy of your home country.
Along with the police report, you’ll need:
- Proof of citizenship (e.g. birth certificate, citizenship card)
- Documents supporting your identity (e.g. driver’s license, health card, etc.)
- 2 identical passport photos taken within the past 6 months
- Information from the missing passport (e.g. copy of the first page of the passport, passport number, issuing city, dates of issue and expiry, etc.)
- Documents proving residency (e.g. student registration, pay stubs, bills)
In some cases, you may wish to ask about obtaining an emergency or temporary passport. In an emergency situation, you may be issued a “one-time-use” passport for returning to your home country. A temporary passport can be issued when it is not an emergency, but the passport needs to be issued faster than usual. In both of these cases, make sure you read the expiry dates on the documents and pay attention to any additional rules and regulations that may apply.
For more information about what to do if your Canadian passport gets lost/stolen, see the Government of Canada’s information on Passport Security.
3. Call or email Safety Abroad for additional support.
If you need additional support, you can always contact Safety Abroad.
You may need to obtain a visa or permit to reside, work, study, and in some cases, visit a country. Contact the embassy or consulate of your host country to understand what the requirements are for your situation.
When it comes to visas, “early” is the most important word to remember.
If you need a visa, you should obtain it before leaving Canada, and make sure to apply well in advance of your departure date, as the application process may be time consuming. Rush orders are sometimes available, but usually come at a much higher cost than usual.
When looking into the visa requirements, check if you need a medical exam. Some countries may require this as part of the visa and/or permit process. Medical exams may need to be done at specific clinics or have blood test requirements that can take several weeks to complete.
Some countries require foreign nationals to complete a registration card, obtained either before or after arrival that will need to be carried at all times. Check to see if this applies to you.
To extend your stay in a country beyond the period permitted by the visa you currently hold, or to change the status of your visa (for example, from a tourist visa to a work visa), contact the nearest government office associated with your passport and consular officials will refer you to the proper authorities in that country. If you hold a Canadian passport, the nearest Canadian government office abroad can help you contact the proper authorities.
In addition, you should also notify the University of Toronto’s Centre for International Experience and Safety Abroad of your change of status or renewal of permits for safety purposes.
Be aware that some countries may require you to have a medical examination or certain vaccinations before entry on certain types of visas. It is important to check with your destination country’s consular service to find out whether you need a medical exam certificate before changing your visa.
International students should contact the consulate of their host country before going abroad to get advice on required visa and entry documents.
For international students on a study permit, check your Canadian re-entry documents for expiry dates to confirm that you will be able to re-enter Canada after your time abroad.
Permanent residents traveling outside Canada who do not have a valid PR card or who are not carrying it, may need to apply for a permanent resident travel document before returning to Canada.