Gisella was thrilled about bringing her 16-year-old granddaughter Jessica to her homeland, Venezuela, for the very first time. She herself hadn’t been back in 30 years. They’d been invited to Gisella’s nephew’s wedding: the perfect opportunity for Jessica to meet her extended family.
Since Gisella hadn’t been abroad in ages, she made sure she and Jessica were thoroughly prepared. She’d checked that their Canadian passports would be valid for at least six months after their departure from Venezuela. She’d even renewed her Venezuelan passport, in accordance with her birth country’s entry requirements for dual citizens and signed up for the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to stay connected with Canada in case of an emergency.
She’d also purchased travel health insurance, visited a travel health clinic to make sure their immunizations were up to date and even packed bed nets to help protect themselves from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Much to their dismay, when Gisella and Jessica landed in Caracas, they were stopped by customs officials and refused entry into the country. Only then did Gisella realize that children under 18 travelling to Venezuela with only one accompanying adult or parent had to have a consent letter for children travelling abroad confirming they had permission to travel.
Gisella was crushed. As a retired housekeeper, she’d been saving for a trip to her homeland for years. Not only was she prevented from seeing her brothers and sisters again after decades apart, but she and Jessica were also stranded at the airport for 36 hours before getting a flight back to Canada.
It was no consolation that this predicament would’ve been avoided if Gisella had checked the Venezuela Travel Report or the consular publication Travelling with children before leaving Canada. She’d have known that they needed a legally certified consent letter signed by Jessica’s parents in order to enter Venezuela.
For more information on how to prepare for a safe and trouble-free trip abroad, be sure to visit Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada’s Consular Services website www.travel.gc.ca.