Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (European Union Laissez-passer): SOR/2023-199

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 157, Number 21

SOR/2023-199 September 26, 2023


P.C. 2023-915 September 25, 2023

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (European Union Laissez-passer) under subsection 5(1) and paragraphs 26(1)(a)footnote a and (b)footnote a of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act footnote b.

Regulations Amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (European Union Laissez-passer)


1 Subsection 52(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations footnote 1 is amended by striking out “or” at the end of paragraph (i), by adding “or” at the end of paragraph (j) and by adding the following after paragraph (j):

Coming into Force

2 These Regulations come into force at 00:00:01 Eastern standard time on the 60th day after the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


European Union representatives coming to Canada for a diplomatic posting or for meetings with Canadian officials must travel using their national passports. One hundred countries now accept the European Union laissez-passer for official travel. The European Union has asked Canada to allow their representatives, and accompanying family members, to enter Canada for official travel using their laissez-passers to symbolically affirm that their delegates are representing that international organization. Responding affirmatively to this request will help strengthen Canada’s diplomatic relationship with the European Union.


Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR), all foreign nationals seeking to become a temporary resident in Canada, including diplomats and official travellers, must hold a document prescribed under the IRPR, such as a passport or other acceptable travel document, that is valid for the period authorized for their stay. They must also complete the appropriate pre-travel screening for travel to Canada, such as a temporary resident visa or electronic travel authorization, which is linked to the passport or travel document they submitted with their application. Currently, European Union officials seeking to come to Canada for official visits are required to travel on their national passport.

The European Union laissez-passer is an electronic travel document with digital biometric identification information contained on a chip. It is issued to representatives and staff members of the European Union with international outreach roles, as well as their family members under certain conditions. The laissez-passer is fully compliant with international standards for travel documents, including International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications, and is accepted for international travel to many other countries, including Canada’s close partners like the United States and Australia.


The purpose of the amendments is to facilitate the travel of European Union representatives to and through Canada while on official business. By accepting the European Union laissez-passer for those seeking to become temporary residents, Canada will strengthen its diplomatic relationship with the European Union.


The IRPR are amended to prescribe the European Union laissez-passer as an acceptable document that may be used by European Union representatives on official business seeking to enter Canada as temporary residents.

For official travel purposes, European Union representatives entering Canada using the laissez-passer are required to obtain a diplomatic/official temporary resident visa, issued for free for official visits. Issuance of an electronic travel authorization will not be possible when using the European Union Laissez-Passer.

For non-official purposes, such as tourism, individuals will be required to use their national passport or other acceptable travel document and obtain the appropriate document for entry to Canada, such as an electronic travel authorization. Similar to the limitations facing holders of a United Nations laissez-passer or the Organization of American States travel document, European Union laissez-passer holders will not be able to use the laissez-passer to enter Canada for non-official travel.

Regulatory development


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) engaged Canadian air carriers that would be impacted by the regulatory amendments to identify and take into consideration potential impacts to airline technical systems and procedures. Airlines confirmed that the impact of the changes would likely not be significant given the low volume of travellers using the European Union laissez-passer. However, consulted air carriers indicated that a two-month transition period would be needed to ensure systems and training material reflect the changes.

Based on the consultations, no opposition from stakeholders is expected, given that the coming into force gives stakeholders the requested time to implement required changes.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

No modern treaty implications are anticipated because Indigenous peoples in Canada are not impacted by the amendments.

Instrument choice

Immigration requirements for entry to Canada are prescribed by regulation, as part of the IRPR. As these amendments constitute a change to the immigration requirements set out in the IRPR, no other instrument is appropriate.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

The baseline case, against which these regulatory changes must be compared, is a scenario where European Union representatives must use their personal passport to travel to and through Canada while on official business. The regulatory scenario is one where the European Union laissez-passer can be used by European Union representatives to enter Canada on official business. For the purpose of this cost-benefit analysis, the costs presented were estimated for 10 periods of 12 months.

The total costs to the Government of Canada are estimated at $1,971,794 in present value (PV). This includes one-time transition costs to implement the amendments. These costs will be incurred in the first period of analysis. Transition activities include updating program delivery instructions and performing information technology (IT) updates. Transition costs to the Government of Canada are estimated at $582,012 PV. The amendments require updates to IT systems managed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and IRCC. Ongoing maintenance is necessary to support system upgrades. The total cost to the Government of Canada for ongoing system maintenance is estimated at $1,389,782 PV.

Commercial air carriers are obliged to ensure that travellers have proper documentation for travel to Canada prior to boarding. The regulatory amendments do not alter this obligation. Air carriers will need time to update their IT systems to allow passengers to use the newly prescribed document for travelling, as well as update procedures and training material. Canadian air carriers may incur costs to update their IT systems; however, these costs are not expected to be significant as the European Union laissez-passer is already ICAO compliant and accepted for travel in many other countries.

The use of the laissez-passer to travel and enter Canada will be low volume. The European Union Delegation to Canada expects approximately 100 laissez-passers to be used for travel to Canada per year, though this number will be higher in years when Canada hosts a big event, such as the G7.

However, it is expected that these regulatory changes will further strengthen Canada’s bilateral relationship with the European Union by designating the European Union laissez-passer as an acceptable travel document.

Small business lens

Analysis under the small business lens concluded that the amendments will not impact Canadian small businesses.

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there is no incremental change in administrative burden on business and no regulatory titles are repealed or introduced.

Strategic environmental assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus

No gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) impacts have been identified for these amendments. These amendments are not likely to have any impact on Canadians. These regulatory changes are not expected to impact travel volumes, as European Union representatives are already able to travel to Canada using their national passport.

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards

These amendments come into force on the 60th day following registration. Changes to program delivery instructions will also be implemented at that time.

This period will allow impacted air carriers to update their systems with the newly prescribed European Union laissez-passer, as well as update staff training manuals to meet new processing rules.

IRCC will continue to work closely with stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the amendments. IRCC will share communication products and messaging for use by air industry stakeholders. Ongoing communication between Government and air industry will ensure that any issues or concerns are acted upon.

The CBSA will monitor the efficacy of these regulatory amendments to ensure the required system changes are properly in place and to determine if new issues or challenges emerge as a result of prescribing the laissez-passer as an acceptable travel document under the IRPR.


Saman Fradette
Migration Control and Horizontal Policy
Admissibility Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada