You’ve planned every detail of your trip. Your bags are packed, you’ve booked time off work, and you’ve arranged for your neighbour to take in the newspaper and feed your furry or feathered companion. The kids are excited about your destination and talk non-stop about the adventures that will unfold along the way. You’re all set!

Or, are you? You may be missing one very important item.

When you’re travelling abroad without a child’s other parent, even if you have full/sole custody of your child or you are not separated, you must consider whether you should travel with a consent letter.

The Purpose of a Consent Letter

A consent letter demonstrates that children who travel abroad with only one parent/guardian (or alone or with a group or person who is not his or her parent/guardian) have permission to do so from the parent who is not accompanying them on the trip.

Although there is no Canadian legal requirement for children to carry a consent letter, it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, airline agents or Canadian officials when re-entering Canada. If you cannot produce a consent letter when requested to do so, it may result in delays or refusal to enter or exit a country.

Sample Consent Letter

The Government of Canada offers a sample consent letter on its website. It’s not necessary to copy the sample word for word; you can modify it to fit your specific situation. However, you should ensure it contains the following:

• details about the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the child;
• details about the person accompanying the child on the trip;
• details about the travelling child;
• signature of the person(s) giving consent; and
• signature of a witness who has attained the age of majority OR certified by an official who has the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration. (An official witness is recommended, but not necessary.)

The Government of Canada website also provides a link to a fillable interactive form, which can be saved.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is simple: better safe than sorry. You might never be asked to present a consent letter in your travels, but should the situation arise where you are required to prove that you have obtained the proper permission, you will be grateful that you have the necessary paperwork at hand.

For answers to all your questions about travelling abroad with children or any other family law issue, call Gelman & Associates at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-742-0200 or contact us online for a confidential initial consultation.