Any child travelling outside Canada with only one parent should carry a consent letter. This is true even if it is only for a day trip, and even if the child will only be unaccompanied by both parents for part of the trip. If you travel across the border with a minor and don’t have a consent letter, it may cause delays, or worse—your child may be denied entry to or exit from a country.
Why do you need to have a consent letter for travelling abroad?
If your child is travelling with only one parent, a consent letter provides proof that the child has permission to travel abroad from every parent or guardian who is not with them on the trip. A consent letter may be requested by airline agents or by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a country. A consent letter may also be requested by Canadian officials upon the child’s return to Canada. In addition to a consent letter, it is a good idea to check with the embassy or consulate of the destination country before you travel to find out if any other documents are required for entry/exit. This is highly recommended if your child holds dual citizenship, as the immigration authorities in that country may have special permit or travel requirements for its minor citizens.
Who should sign the consent letter?
If you plan to travel with your minor child, you should have a consent letter signed by any non-accompanying parent or guardian. It does not matter if you and the other parent are married, separated, common-law, divorced, never married, or never lived together. You should have a signed consent letter even if you have sole custody of the child you will be travelling with. There are limited situations where consent may not be necessary (e.g., where the other parent has been denied access rights by a court order, or where there is a separation agreement or court order dispensing with the need for consent of a parent). However, in those situations, it is recommended that you carry a copy of the separation agreement or court order stating that the other parent’s consent is not needed for cross-border travel. If you have any questions about travel requirements given your family situation, or if the other parent is refusing to provide consent to travel with your child, you should speak to a family lawyer.
Should the consent letter be notarized?
The signing of a travel consent letter must be witnessed. It is strongly recommended that you have the consent letter witnessed by a notary public. While anyone who has attained the age of majority can serve as a witness, a notarized consent letter carries significantly more weight. An immigration agent or border official will be less likely to question the authenticity of a consent letter that has been witnessed by a notary public.
Who can help you with travel consents for children?
Contact the experienced team at Invicta Law Corporation for guidance on travel document requirements and any related family law matters. We can assist with wording of the letter, notarization, and preparation of supporting documents or translations to help your travel go smoothly.