Apply for a birth certificate as soon as your child is born, and then apply for a passport. Family travellers all need identification. No matter how much they resemble parents, you can't go in and out of countries with unidentified children in tow.
A child cannot be included on the parent's passport.
Apart from their usefulness, passports make great souvenir records of your travels together.
Keep birth certificates and passports in a special place known to all responsible family members. If you are moving house, make special note of where you have stored them. Trying to locate documents three hours prior to departure is not a fun way to begin a family holiday.
Landed Immigrants MUST have a new Permanent Resident Card in order to re-enter Canada. The old record of landing is no longer sufficient. Full details, including downloadable forms can be found by following this link.
To enter most countries, passports must be valid for at least six months after you have left that country. Make sure well in advance that all passports are current enough to meet requirements of the countries you plan to pass through on any particular trip.
Travel to the USA and Caribbean
You must have a valid passport to enter the USA and all Caribbean Islands. Learn more by following this link.
Getting a birth certificate or passport
Please do not underestimate the time that it takes to get a copy of a lost birth certificate, or a child's original birth certificate. If you are planning to travel within a few months, then you cannot rely on the regular processes. Some documents may be able to be "rushed" if travel plans are pressing, but you must check this with the relevant government department...
SPECIFIC ID ADVICE FOR TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
When only one parent travels with children across international borders, it is important to carry properly notarized proof that the other parent is in agreement with the travel arrangements. The document (a signed and notarized letter) should contain details of the travel dates, flight numbers, destination etc. A sample letter as suggested by the Department of Foreign affairs can be found by following this link.
Important Official Advice for Canadians
The Department of Foreign Affairs has recently given very detailed advice, including:
"Due to the heightened awareness of international child abduction, anyone, including parents, travelling abroad with a minor should be prepared to document legal custody of that child. Even when both parents are travelling with a child, they may be required to prove that they are the parents through, for example, presentation of the long-form birth certificate."
For children travelling with only one parent, DFAIT says, "[the] parent should have a legally certified letter of consent from the other parent or a custody document. In other cases, the individual with the child should have a legally certified letter of consent from both parents or a custody document."
And lastly, DFAIT continues: "When a minor child is travelling unaccompanied, parents should ensure that the child has a valid passport and a legally certified letter of consent for travel." A sample document can be found by following this link.
Other frequently asked questions are answered at the DFAIT website.
Important documentation changes for cruise passengers
Documentation rules have been tightened considerably, and it is extremely important that you have all the necessary paperwork in order to cruise. Without the correct documents with you at time of embarkation, you will be refused boarding and no refund will be issued.
Canadian (and US) citizens must provide Proof of Citizenship (passport, original birth certificate, citizenship or naturalisation certificate) and Proof of Identity (valid driver's licence with photograph, government ID card with photograph and physical description).
Additionally, many cruise lines require a form to be filled out with relevant details at least two weeks prior the sailing.