I am traveling to a foreign country with one of our children. Do I need the consent of the child’s other parent, and how should that consent be given?
With summer and vacation time approaching, this is a very good question for all parents, whether they are separated or still together. The Canadian government strongly recommends that person(s) traveling abroad with a Canadian child without the other parent carry a consent letter. The consent is meant to prove if necessary that a Canadian child has permission to travel abroad from parent(s) who are not accompanying them. A Canadian child is defined as anyone who is under the age of majority. Immigration authorities of the foreign jurisdiction and/or the Canadian border authority when you are re-entering Canada may ask to see the consent. If you do not have it, you face the possibility of delay or being turned away. The letter or consent should have at least the following details: the child’s full name, residence and passport number under which the child will be traveling, the names and addresses of the parent(s) who are not traveling with the child, the name of the person(s) with whom the child will be traveling, the intended dates and location of the travel, and the circumstances of the parents in the interests of full disclosure, e.g. that they are separated or still together. The consent should be signed by the parent(s) not traveling with the child and witnessed by someone who is at least age of majority. It is even better to have a notary public witness the signature of the parent(s) giving consent, affixing his or her notarial seal to the document so it looks professional, official and credible. It is may cost you $30 – $40 to get a lawyer to witness it, but it is well worth it, especially if you are traveling to a far off place and you have invested a lot of time and money in the trip. Importantly, having the consent letter does not guarantee that child will be allowed to enter or leave a country, as every country has its own entry and exit requirements, but is a very good way to increase the likelihood of that happening. Finally, as an added precaution, you should contact the airline, bus, train or other transport company you will be using to check its policies and regulations for child travelers. We are a full service firm. We offer a free initial consultation, and would be happy to meet with you at one of our three offices, including in Georgetown at 8 Guelph St., in the Lounsbury Life & Group Insurance Benefits building.