Types of travel documents

A Certificate of Canadian Citizenship is not a travel document.

A Canadian passport is the only reliable and universally accepted travel document available to Canadians for the purpose of international travel. Canadian citizens returning to Canada who present other documents, such as a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship, birth certificate, provincial driver’s license, or foreign passport, instead of a Canadian passport, may face delays or be denied boarding by transport companies.


Starting October 27, 2014, Certificates of Identity and Refugee Travel Documents will no longer be printed with a status field on the photo page (page 2). This is already an international standard, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compliant and will not impede travel.

It is advised that Permanent Residents travel with their Permanent Resident (PR) cards as Certificates of Identity and Refugee Travel Documents are not considered proof of citizenship.

Canada issues approximately 5 million travel documents a year, 98% of which are regular passports. There are six types of Canadian passports and two types of travel documents issued to refugees and stateless persons living in Canada.

As of July 1, 2013, all new Canadian passports are issued as ePassports.

Canadian passports

Regular passport

Canadians are most familiar with the regular (blue) passport that is issued to Canadian citizens for occasional travel, such as vacations and business trips.

The regular passport has 36 pages. The current maximum validity period varies with the age of the passport holder:

  • Adults (16 years of age or over): have the option of a 5-year or 10-year passport;
  • Children's passports (0 to 15 years of age): are issued for a maximum of 5 years
Regular passport booklet

Diplomatic passport

Diplomatic passports are issued to high-ranking Government of Canada officials, diplomats, as well as representatives and delegates of the Government of Canada to international governmental organizations and international conferences of a diplomatic nature.

The validity period for this passport is determined by the issuing office.

Diplomatic passport booklet

Special passport

Special passports are issued to people holding office, such as members of Parliament, Senators, members of provincial cabinets, and to people employed by the Government of Canada in a non-diplomatic capacity travelling on an official mission or to a post abroad.

The validity period for this passport is determined by the issuing office.

Special passport booklet

Emergency travel documents

Canadians may be issued an emergency travel document in cases of extreme urgency where the issuance of a temporary passport is not possible. An emergency travel document is issued with a limited validity period to allow the bearer to return to Canada or to travel to the nearest full-service Government of Canada office.

Temporary passport

Certain Government of Canada offices abroad may issue temporary passports on behalf of the Passport Program to Canadians with an urgent and proven need for a passport, while they wait to receive a regular, special or diplomatic passport.

The validity period for this passport is determined by the issuing office.

Temporary passport booklet

Canadian travel documents

Refugee travel document

(United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 and its Protocol of 1967)

Refugee travel documents are issued to people in Canada with protected-person status, including Convention refugees and persons in need of protection.

Endorsements: A refugee travel document is endorsed for travel to all countries (except the bearer's country of citizenship).

The validity period is determined by the issuing office.

Refugee travel document

Certificate of identity

Certificates of identity are issued to permanent residents of Canada who are not yet Canadian citizens, and who, although not considered to have refugee status in Canada, are otherwise stateless or unable, for a valid reason, to obtain a national passport or travel document from any source.

Endorsements: A certificate of identity is not valid for travel to the bearer's country of citizenship.

The validity period is determined by the issuing office.

Certificate of identity booklet

Change of extension policy for travel documents

Refugee travel documents and certificates of identity issued prior to July 18, 2010, are no longer extendable. The new policy of not extending the validity period of travel documents conforms to new security features and the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization.