Travelling abroad with a child can require a lot of planning to arrange a safe and enjoyable trip. While planning and custody arrangements should be resolved before travelling, ensuring that you have proper documentation for your child can help avoid any problems that may arise with border agents or immigration officers.
What Is a Travel Consent?
A travel consent letter demonstrates that the child has permission to travel without one or more of their parents or legal guardians. This document should be signed by the non-travelling guardian(s) of the child and an individual with the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration (e.g. notary public or lawyer). The document is especially important in situations where a child is very young or may not share your
Why Get a Travel Consent?
If you share custody of your child and the other custodian is not travelling with you and your child or you do not have legal custody of your child, permission to travel should be granted by the child’s legal guardian. A notarized travel consent helps to establish that the child is travelling legally.
Travel consent documents are recommended for any minor who is travelling without one or more of their parents or legal guardians. “Minors” are generally recognized to be individuals under the age of 18. However, some provinces do not recognize an individual as an adult until they reach 19 years of age. Anyone who is not legally recognized as an adult or is travelling with an individual who is not a legally recognized adult should be prepared to show a travel consent in addition to their passport or other required documents.
Another reason to get a travel consent is that it can help simplify dealings with immigration authorities in a foreign country or by Canadian officials when leaving or re-entering Canada. More specifically, a travel consent letter can help avoid unexpected delays or serious legal issues you may encounter when attempting to enter a foreign country or re-enter Canada when you are travelling with your child but without your child’s other parent. While a travel consent is not a legal requirement for Canadian children who are travelling abroad, immigration authorities are trained to look out for any activity which may indicate that a child has been abducted or relocated without permission.
What Information Should Be Included in a Travel Consent?
Travel consent letters should include the name, age, residence information and passport number of any minor who is travelling. The letter should also include the name, date of birth and contact information for the adult who is accompanying the child.
It is also advisable to include any relevant travel information, such as flight numbers, destinations, and the address of a hotel or other accommodations.
Most importantly, travel consent documents must be signed by the parent or guardian giving permission for the minor to travel. A parent or guardian who is giving permission for the child to travel can include: a guardian who has shared custody of the child or a guardian who has sole custody of the child.
When Additional Documentation May Be Necessary
A notarized travel consent form is generally sufficient to prove a child has permission travel abroad but, in some circumstances, there may be additional information required by a foreign country for your unique situation. You may wish to contact the consulate of your destination to establish if there are any additional documents required.
Some common examples where additional information may need to be provided are included below:
1. If you share custody of your child
You should be prepared to produce a travel consent letter signed by the non-travelling guardian(s) and certified by a lawyer or notary public if you share custody of your child. In the travel consent letter, it is advisable to include the name, address and contact information of the non-travelling guardian.
2. If you have sole custody of your child but the child’s other parent has visitation rights
Travel consent letters may be recommended if a minor is travelling with a parent/guardian who has full custody and has another (non-travelling) parent/guardian who has visitation rights. If you cannot secure permission from the parent with visitation rights, you should be prepared to prove your custody arrangement with a copy of the relevant court order and preferably an order permitting your specific travel outside British Columbia or Canada.
3. If you are not separated or divorced but are travelling with your child and without your spouse
If you are simply travelling alone with your child you should be prepared to produce a travel consent letter signed by your spouse with their contact information included. You should also be prepared to provide a copy of the non-travelling parent’s identification (e.g. passport number).
4. If your child’s other guardian is deceased
If your child’s other guardian is deceased, you should be prepared to produce your child’s birth certificate, documents indicating that you are the child’s legal guardian, and the deceased’s death certificate.
5. If your child’s surname is different from your own
If your surname is different from that of your child, you may be asked to prove your relationship to your child. Government issued documents which can help with this are birth certificates, adoption papers or certificates of marriage.
How Often Should I Get a Travel Consent?
Each time you travel with your child without both parents or legal guardians, a new travel consent letter should be obtained. Authorities may request to see a new permission letter each time a child’s parent or guardian is not present.
In some cases, agreements can be made in advance through separation or custody arrangements to pre-emptively allow for the parties to request travel consents. In Sampley v Burns 2017 BCSC 622, for example, the judge directed that the father provide an irrevocable unexpiring travel consent for the mother and/or her parents to travel to the US with the child for any reason.
Contact Valerie M. Little Law Corporation, Family Lawyer in Coquitlam
Ensuring the proper documents are secured for travel with your child can make the process easier and more efficient for everyone involved. Arranging for a travel consent is one way of assuring the safety of your child and avoiding any disagreements with your child’s other guardian(s), which could cause delay or serious legal disputes.
For help acquiring a travel consent, or court order permitting travel outside the jurisdiction of British Columbia, or for questions related to children travelling without their guardians, contact our child custody lawyers in Coquitlam at .