Canada Border Services Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Our Missing Children

The CBSA helps protect families at the border and find missing children.

If you have information about a missing child please contact your local police service.

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Overview

Every day, Canada's border services officers are on the alert for abducted or missing children at this country's international airports, marine ports and land border crossings.

Their work is part of Our Missing Children, a successful joint program between Canada's law enforcement and government agencies. Founded in 1986, the program's goal is to locate and reunite missing or abducted children with their parents or legal guardians. Government of Canada departments involved include the RCMP, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the Department of Justice and the CBSA.

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The CBSA's role

The CBSA plays a vital role in this award-winning partnership by protecting children at border points of entry. Since Our Missing Children began, officers have reunited over 1,750 missing or abducted children with their legal guardians.

The CBSA's contribution to Our Missing Children requires teamwork at home and abroad. In Canada, the CBSA has national coordinators managing its part of the program who are supported by regional coordinators across the country. The regional coordinators help frontline officers by providing training and offering legislative or procedural guidance.

The CBSA's Border Operations Centre in Ottawa also plays a role. This 24/7 operation works closely with officers and coordinators by verifying immigration information and by managing national lookout reports for missing or abducted children.

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Partners in enforcement

Beyond the CBSA's internal efforts, its network of Our Missing Children coordinators is linked to all Canadian police forces through the Canadian Police Information Centre. Internationally, the coordinators are connected to police agencies in the United States through the National Crime Information Center and to most overseas police agencies through INTERPOL. The network is also in contact with many other organizations that play an integral role in recovering missing children: foreign government agencies, non-governmental agencies and foreign social services.

Together, the program's strong network of national and international players and the CBSA's coordinators ensure that border services officers have the most up-to-date information and can react quickly to any possible abduction or missing child case.

The CBSA also takes immediate action by issuing nationwide border alerts when an AMBER Alert is activated which occurs in the most serious of child abduction cases.

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Training and outreach

Border services officers are trained on how to handle situations involving abducted or runaway children. The program's partners provide officers with training packages on dealing with abduction cases, the indicators and profiles of abductors, interviewing techniques for children and possible abductors, and the various applicable laws. The CBSA also delivers training workshops to Canadian police forces, airline personnel, foreign customs services, U.S. immigration officers and law enforcement agencies around the world.

The CBSA is committed to keeping families safe so it works to educate the public on Our Missing Children and on its role in protecting children at the border. CBSA information booths are set up at trade shows and other events like National Missing Children's Day (May 25) and National Police Week to distribute awareness pamphlets and other promotional materials. You can do your part by ensuring that if you travel with your children or with the children of friends that you have the proper permission and documentation.

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Border-proofing your family

The CBSA's officers pay extra attention to children as they enter Canada. Recognizing which children have a valid reason to accompany adult travellers is an essential aspect of the program. This additional attention helps to ensure children's safety.

To avoid delays at Canadian border crossings, travellers should consider this advice:

  • Adults should carry proper identification for any minors travelling with them, including infants.
  • The CBSA recommends identification such as a valid passport, NEXUS card or immigration document. For Canadian residents, alternative identification might include a birth certificate.
  • When travelling in a group of vehicles, the parent or guardian should be in the same vehicle as his or her children when arriving at the border.
  • Parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of the legal custody documents.
  • Any adult who is not a parent or guardian should have written permission from the parent or guardian, as well as the child's identification. A letter would also facilitate entry for any one parent travelling with their children. This permission letter should have addresses and telephone numbers of where the parent or guardian can be reached.
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General safety advice

  • Never leave children unattended.
  • Discuss scenarios with your children. Teach them what to do if they get lost in shopping malls, busy streets or other crowded areas.
  • Keep up-to-date photos of your children — school photos are best. You may want to have some kind of identification kit.
  • Have your children fingerprinted. Your local police force can tell you which agencies in your area offer this service.
  • Have your children memorize your home or office telephone number and teach them how to reach you by phone.
  • Teach your children how to use the 9-1-1 telephone service in case of emergency.
  • Explain to your children that they should refuse invitations to enter the vehicles or homes of strangers. Discourage your children from taking anything from strangers unless you approve.
  • If you are separated or divorced, let your children's school administrators know about visitation rights. For example, tell the administrators whether your ex-spouse is allowed to pick up the children. You should also ensure that school bus drivers are notified.

For more information on missing children, visit www.CanadasMissing.ca.

For additional tips on travelling with children, visit www.travel.gc.ca.