Resettlement: Travel arrangements


This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Travel arrangements

Choosing an air carrier

Visa offices should use International Organization for Migration (IOM) services where available. Consideration should be given to airlines that provide the most cost-effective travel arrangements.

Maximum number of refugees per flight

The maximum number of refugees per flight is 75.

For planning purposes it is important for the POEs to receive Notification of Arrival Transmissions (NAT) in sufficient time (10 working days prior to refugee arrival in Canada).

If there is a need for a visa office to book more than 75 refugees on any given flight, a message stating the reasons for the request must be sent to the Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa (ROC-O) at least 15 working days in advance of the flight date. The ROC-O will consult regional officials and respond to the request within two working days.

Day of arrival

Restrictions on day of arrival: Government-assisted refugees

  1. Government-assisted refugee (GARs) and humanitarian cases may not arrive on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or on statutory holidays unless there are extenuating circumstances. Note that there are different statutory holidays by province.

    An updated list of Canadian statutory holidays is distributed to visa offices and the IOM each fall by IR. This list can be obtained by contacting the ROC-O.

  2. Some Friday arrivals may be allowed when the final destination is the local POE. ROC-O and local Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) office approval is required. Officers should send their requests directly to the ROC-O which will coordinate.
  3. Exceptions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Contact the ROC-O to coordinate exceptional cases.

Restrictions on day of arrival: Privately-sponsored refugees

  1. Friday and weekend arrivals of privately-sponsored refugees (PSR) are permitted, but should be kept to a minimum. The name and telephone number of the sponsor must accompany the refugee to Canada. Notification of Arrival Transmissions (NATs) should indicate that it is a weekend arrival and include names and telephone numbers of sponsors.

Time of arrival

Refugees must arrive at their final destination before 22:00 hours local time.

Winter clothing distribution

Between October 15 and April 15, winter clothing distribution centres are available exclusively at ports of entry in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. Refugees requiring winter clothing immediately on arrival must arrive through one of these POEs.

Connecting flights

At least four hours are required at the initial POE to allow for procedures related to granting of permanent residence, clearing customs, distribution of winter clothing if applicable, and transportation to connecting flights. This is especially critical in Toronto as refugees often must travel between terminals or airports and several hours may be required.

Overnight stay

It is sometimes necessary to delay onward travel to final destination to ensure arrival within the time guidelines. Arrangements must then be made for an overnight stay at the POE.

Onward travel to destination should not depart POE before 10:00 hours because of required commuting time and the availability of escorts.

Ticket for onward travel

Travel arrangements for the journey from POE to final destination must be made at the time of original flight booking, with the exception of Quebec-destined cases. Airline tickets must provide flexibility for onward travel up to 7 days after arrival at the POE. Quebec- destined refugees should enter Canada at Montreal, whenever possible. MICC is responsible for travel arrangements to final destinations in Quebec.

Change in travel plans

Changes of destination when refugees are in transit should be discouraged.

Any change in travel plans such as a missed connection, unplanned overnight stay or cancellation of onward flight, should be communicated to the IRCC office of final destination, using the client’s file number.

A change of destination to another province must be reported to the ROC-O. For additional information on changes of destination after the NAT has been issued, see Sponsorship residency requirements.

When refugees request a change of final destination upon arrival at a port of entry (POE), there may be an additional cost for transportation that requires approval from the IRCC POE manager. When the existing loan exceeds $10,000, or the sum of existing and potential subsequent loans exceeds $10,000, the IRCC manager may approve the additional loan amount if they are satisfied that the applicant will be able to repay the loan.

December Cut-off date for government-assisted refugees

December 15th is the targeted cut-off date for government-assisted refugees’ arrivals. Arrangements should be made through the ROC-O for any refugees travelling after that date. Only exceptional cases can be accommodated between the 15th and the first official day for travel. This is usually the first normal working day following New Year’s Day except for Quebec where it falls on the second normal working day. Note that this deadline does not apply to privately sponsored refugees.

Transportation and associated costs

Transportation loans - Inland transportation costs

Inland transportation costs to final destination must be included on the transportation warrant [IMM 0500]. This may include meals en route, overnight accommodation, ground transportation and incidental expenses. Should inland transportation en route to the final destination be required, and if it was not pre-arranged abroad, the travel costs may be approved under the Immigration loans program (PDF, 698.99KB).

Unexpected overnighting requiring IMM 0500

Occasionally, privately-sponsored refugees have to stay overnight at the POE. In such instances, the officer can approve a Transportation Warrant IMM 0500 to cover the costs of the in-transit accommodation and related expenses (i.e., meals at the hotel). The warrant number of the original IMM 0500, where applicable, must be recorded in Box 1 of the subsequent IMM 0500. The loan holder must present the IMM 0500 to the hotel which will fill in the expenditure amount and send the original to the following address:

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Jean Edmonds Building North Tower
4th Floor
300 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

The hotel may wish to batch the bills and send them to NHQ on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

  1. Privately-sponsored refugees must be apprised by the officer that they must bear the cost of overnight stays and related expenses, where required.

Contribution program for transportation and associated costs

Special-needs refugees such as disabled refugees and sole-parent refugee families, particularly women at risk may qualify for a transportation contribution in lieu of a loan. The visa office may recommend that travel be paid through a contribution. Each request is reviewed individually at NHQ. Requests should be sent to the ROC-O. See Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) contributions and IP 3 (PDF, 433KB) for detailed procedures.

Excess baggage

The number and size of allowed baggage may vary between airlines. Visa offices, the IOM and others making travel arrangements should counsel refugees on the number, weight and dimensions of pieces of baggage allowed per person travelling to Canada.

Personal and household effects

Refugees have responsibility for shipping arrangements and related costs for their personal and household effects. These costs cannot be financed under the Immigration Loans Program or under the Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP).

Prohibited items

Visa offices and the IOM should counsel refugees regarding items, especially food and dangerous goods that cannot be brought into Canada. Travellers are encouraged to consult Transport Canada: What you can’t bring on a plane.

Airline and baggage claim tickets

Ensure that refugees have their own airline tickets and baggage-claim tickets. One refugee must not be given the claim tickets for an entire flight of refugees.

Travel arrangements for pets

IRCC will not support travel arrangements for pets unless it involves a service animal where legitimate reasons are found to justify its travel to Canada.

Refugees must make travel arrangements for household pets on their own.

Service animals

Legitimate reasons for accepting a service animal include situations where a person has a disability, such as:

  • visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • mental illness (such as post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • seizure disorder
  • mobility impairment
  • diabetes

A medical examination report must be requested to confirm if a legitimate condition exists if not obvious.

Before accepting to arrange travel for the pet, IOM must ensure that all pre-departure requirements have been made and paid by the refugee and that they understand all requirements and costs that may be encountered upon arrival in Canada. More information can be found at Travelling with pets.

If legitimate cases are found, requirements met and counselling provided, IOM must flag it to IRCC ROC-O. ROC-O will assess these cases in consultation with Resettlement Services as required, with other in-Canada partners notified via the NAT process (for example, sponsor, RAP SPO, Quebec).

Household pets

Refugees can make arrangements to bring their pet after their arrival in Canada. More information can be found at: Importing pets

Minors (Unaccompanied)

Age of majority

The age of majority varies from province to province in Canada. The age of majority is 18 in six provinces: Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

The age of majority is 19 in four provinces and the three territories: British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, and Yukon.

Avoid overnight stay

Travel arrangements for minors are to be made in such a manner that overnight stay at the POE is avoided.

Child minding services

In those cases where an overnight stay is unavoidable, arrangements must be made for child- minding services, as minors cannot be left alone. Neither reception services nor POE have the mandate or facilities to provide overnight stays for privately-sponsored minors in transit. While minors are generally placed with a family during the flight, there are no standard arrangements for the duration of the stay at the POE, which can leave the child in a potentially vulnerable situation. The IOM must contact either the parent, guardian or sponsor directly before arranging flights in order to avert any difficulties.

Contact information

Because it is particularly important to clearly identify unaccompanied minors, travel arrangements must always be provided on a separate NAT or a message separate from the NAT. This communication must include the name, telephone number and address of the contact or sponsor in Canada in case of an emergency or of a change in travel arrangements. Please ensure that the NAT has been received.

If a minor is travelling in the company of another refugee assigned to provide assistance during the flight, that person must also be identified on the NAT and/or message.

Airline restrictions

Some transportation companies in Canada place restrictions on minors travelling alone. Visa offices and the IOM must ensure, when making travel arrangements abroad, that the carrier for the Canadian leg of the trip will allow the minor to travel to the final destination unaccompanied. Confirmation of these arrangements must be included on the NAT.

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