28 May 2009

Taking the children ?

Are you taking children across an international border?

Does the child have their own current valid passport?

Does your child have the same last name as both parents?

Child trafficking conventions and strict laws against the unauthorized movement of children could be a problem for your travel plans. Such rules were put in place to help stop the theft of children by strangers, traffickers, relatives, and lone parents abducting their own child.

More and more children in Canada have the same last name as only one parent, or even a different name altogether in the case of children living with a guardian.

It is always important that when a child has a different name, and I mean different in any way at all from either of the parents, that the parents carry along the provincial government-issued LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE. This long form birth certificate lists the names of both parents in full, and is a most valuable document for proving the real relationship of the adults to the child.

Some embassies require a copy of this document before issuing a visa to a child. Other countries will issue a visa, but will demand proof at the border.

In some cases you should strongly consider have a lawyer sign and notarize a letter stating the names and relationships of the adults (parents or guardian) to the child, and to have this with you while crossing a border.

Be prepared with documents, not turned away from the border.

07 May 2009

U.S. border closed if no passport

As of 01 June 2009 the United States border is closed to all persons not carrying a valid passport.

The U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) final rule requires travelers to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identity for all land and sea travel into the United States. WHTI establishes document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S.A., Canada and Bermuda. These document requirements will be effective Monday 01 June 2009.

Many cross-border travelers already have WHTI-compliant documents such as a Passport or a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), or a Washington State Enhanced Driver's License (EDL). The U.S. Department of State is accepting applications for the new Passport Cards and additional U.S. states and Canadian provinces will be issuing EDLs in the next several months — all of which are options specifically designed for land and sea border use in place of a passport.

Cruise passengers should be warned that many cruise lines will not accept non-passport WHTI-compliant cards as sufficient, and therefore may deny bording to passengers. The rules allow for other special documents to be used, but will likely be boiled down to "no passport, no cruise". The best route is to have a current passport issued by the Government of Canada passport office. Click here for the passport office website including all forms and requirements and office addresses.

School groups can be treated differently. Beginning in June, U.S border stations will institute special provisions that allow school or other organized groups of children ages 18 and under who are U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship alone. Teachers and group organizers should check with the appropriate U.S. border post and immigration office before making any attempt to cross into or out of the USA.

05 May 2009

Are you banned ?

Have you recently been in Mexico?
If so, you may be banned from getting a visa and entering some countries.
Right now China is denying visas to Canadians who have recently been in Mexico.
If you have a Mexican border stamp in your passport, whether from an airport or cruise port or land crossing, you may not be able to enter some Asian countries.
So before you send off you visa application, check with us for the current status, and make your journey great from start to finish.
Click here for Visa Services Canada.

01 May 2009

Swine Flu (Novel Influenza)

The following letter was written for distribution by Canadian high commissioners and ambassadors.

Dear fellow Canadians

I am writing to provide an update on the human swine influenza and links to websites where you will be able to monitor the situation closely. Further communications will be provided as the situation warrants.

Human cases of swine influenza (H1N1) have been reported in various regions of the world. Deaths have been reported as well. Mexico is currently experiencing an extended influenza season, and cases normally involve healthy young adults. On 29 April 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase 4 to 5, which indicates that the virus has caused sustained community level outbreaks in two or more countries in one WHO region. The WHO maintains a complete list of countries (available at www.who.int) that includes the most recent outbreaks and crisis.

In Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is the lead Federal authority on human swine influenza and pandemic influenza in humans. PHAC has an influenza website portal (www.influenza.gc.ca) to provide information on various types of influenza.

The PHAC recommends that travellers follow the same precautionary measures as with seasonal influenza. These include receiving a seasonal flu vaccine, washing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill. Canadians travellers who develop symptoms of influenza or severe respiratory illness, especially high fever, are advised to seek medical attention immediately. The PHAC also provides general information on human swine influenza on its main website at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca or at www.fightflu.ca .

Government of Canada offices overseas are not in a position to provide medicine or medical treatment to Canadian citizens. Canadians are encouraged to evaluate their own personal circumstances and medical histories to determine whether their continued presence in the country is warranted. While the WHO has not declared that a global pandemic is underway, Canadians should be aware that the interruption of commercial aviation and imposition of border control measures to and from any country may occur in the event of a pandemic. Under these conditions, departure may not be possible and the ability of the Government of Canada to assist would be severely restricted. Canadians should always ensure their passports are current. It is also possible that in accordance with measures announced by local authorities, the Embassy of Canada might have to reduce its services to emergencies only until further notice. Should the services levels be affected, we would immediately communicate with you again.

I hope that the information provided will be useful to you and your family. Further information on Human Swine Influenza can be found at http://www.voyage.gc.ca or at Global issues.