Travel Consent Letters

If your child is under 18 and you are traveling out of the country without all of their custodial parents or guardians, you may need a travel consent letter. Today, we'll be discussing travel consent letters and how you can know if you need one.

My name is Veronica Yeung and I am an associate with the Feldstein Family Law Group. In this video blog, I’ll be discussing Travel Consent Letters: What they are and why you as a parent may need one.

Is your child under 18 years of age? Will they be travelling outside of Canada? Will they be travelling without all of their custodial parents or custodial guardians?

If the answers to all above were “yes”, then your child needs a travel consent letter from each custodial parent.

Even if you have sole custody of your child, a Travel Consent Letter from the other parent, the access parent, is still necessary.

Canadian border agents and foreign governments have no idea about your custody arrangements. They have no way of knowing whether a child’s parents have consented to a trip or whether that child is being abducted by one parent or some stranger. The border agents can refuse to allow you to enter or leave their country with the child if there is any concern that you are doing so without full consent from both parents and/or custodial guardians.

Essentially, the Travel Consent Letter is a form of protection for the child against international child abduction. This is documentary evidence that a child’s custodial parents or custodial guardians have consented and given permission for the child to go on the trip. It assures the Canadian and foreign governments that the child’s parents know where the child is going and have consented for the child to travel with the person(s) named in the letter.

There is no standard “legal” format for travel consent letters and what they should contain. The only requirements for a valid travel consent letter are:

  1. (A statement by the parent who is not travelling with the child that they are consenting to the trip;
  2. That parent’s signature; and
  3. The date of the signature.

However, most family law lawyers recommend for Travel Consent Letters to clearly and concisely set out specific details regarding the trip, including:

  1. Departure times;
  2. Locations to where the child will be travelling;
  3. Where the child will be staying;
  4. Contact information for hotels, the parent, and the child, during the trip; and
  5. Return plans.

It is also recommended that the parent consenting to travel gets the letter notarized as some governments or jurisdictions may not accept a non-notarized letter as sufficient evidence of parental consent.

The above information and notarization on a Travel Consent Letter can help minimize complications when crossing borders or in the unfortunate event of an emergency while abroad with your child.

Parents should seek the assistance of a family law lawyer when drafting a Travel Consent Letter or preparing to sign one. If a letter is drafted too broadly or unclearly, it may lead to the parents having different ideas as to how long the travelling parent can travel with the child.

A clear, detailed, and precise Travel Consent Letter prepared by a Family Law Lawyer can ensure that there is no confusion and that both parent’s rights are protected.

For separated parents, it is a good idea to seek the other parent’s permission to travel with the child far in advance of your trip in case there are any unexpected complications in obtaining a Travel Consent Letter.

I hope this video was helpful and thank you for watching.

For more information regarding custody, access, or international child abduction, please visit our website or call us for a consultation at (905) 581-7222.

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