Updated: May 23
What is a Travel Consent Letter?
A travel consent letter allows a child to travel alone, with someone other than their parents, or with one parent without the other. This document notifies authorities or other interested parties that a parent or legal guardian has given their consent for the child to travel without them.
When should a travel consent letter be used?
A consent letter should be used for all cross-border travel when a child is travelling:
with only 1 parent or guardian
in the care of friends or relatives
with a group, such as a sport, school, musical or religious group
This includes day trips and travel where a child will be with only 1 parent for part of a trip. For example, a child will leave Canada with both parents but will return with only 1 parent.
Why do I need a travel consent letter?
Although a consent letter is not a legal requirement in Canada, it can become essential if requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, or by Canadian officials when re-entering Canada.
While it is legal for grandparents to transport their grandchildren without a letter of consent, it is a safeguard against any potential emergencies or law enforcement issues.
Who should sign a travel consent letter?
The consent letter should be signed by:
Both parents if they are married or in a common law relationship and neither of them are accompanying the child travelling outside Canada
The parent who is not travelling with the child if the parents are married or in a common law relationship and one of them is travelling with the child
The parent who is not travelling with the child but is separated or divorced and who has 1 of the following:
custody of the child
decision-making responsibility for the child
guardianship of the child (in Alberta and British Columbia)
A court order or agreement may also specify who does or does not need to sign a consent letter for a child travelling abroad.
If the child is in temporary care: The consent letter should be signed by the appropriate child welfare agency representative granting consent for the child to travel with the accompanying person. If in doubt about who should sign the letter, consult a lawyer.
If one of the parents is deceased: If the child is travelling alone or without the surviving parent, the child should carry a consent letter signed by the surviving parent and a copy of the death certificate of the deceased parent.
Why You Should Notarize you Travel Consent Letter
Countries have their own entry and exit requirements for children. The consent letter may not be considered sufficient by a country’s immigration authorities and there is no guarantee that they will recognize it. You should check with the immigration authorities in the country your child will be visiting for their exact requirements.
Getting a travel consent letter notarized is an extra layer of protection and is strongly recommended by the Canadian government (see here). If a travel consent letter is not notarized, it can be rejected because there is no objective evidence that it was signed by the parent that is not present. Remember, notarization is fraud protection at it’s heart. A notarized travel consent letter will carry a lot more weight than a non notarized one.
Link to Travel Consent Letter
You can find a fillable travel consent letter, as well as a sample on how to write one, on the Canadian government’s website here.
Important to Note
The parent travelling with the child may be required to present documentation proving they are the parent or legal guardian.
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