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FAQ on Travel Letters of Consent

September 27th, 2014

Travel is a great way to rest and rejuvenate while experiencing different cultures as a family. However, if you’re travelling with a minor and both parents are not present, the airport or border crossing point could be as far as you get without a letter of consent. Learn more about letters of consent and what you need to do to prepare one.

What is a Letter of Consent to Travel?

Put simply, a letter of consent states that the minor child has permission to leave the country with the person or persons travelling with them. In some cases it may state that they have permission to travel on their own as an unaccompanied minor. Even if the travel party isn’t staying together for the duration of the trip (i.e., family accompanying a spouse on a business trip with plans to do some local travel during the trip) it is recommended that the non-accompanying parent sign a letter of consent.

When Would a Letter of Consent be Necessary?

While a notarized letter of consent to travel with minor children is not required within Canada, it is strongly recommended by the Government of Canada for children travelling abroad. There are many reasons a letter of consent would be necessary for a minor travelling in a group or with only one parent. These reasons could include:

  • A hockey tournament in New York or Michigan;
  • A school trip or student exchange with another country;
  • A fun back-to-school cross border trip; or,
  • A family vacation with a custodial parent after divorce

The rule of thumb regarding letters of consent is that if in doubt, you should have one on hand.

Can I Prepare My Own Letter of Consent?

Yes! Of course you can have this done for you in a lawyer’s office, though that is an expensive solution. It is a relatively simple document to prepare and contains basic information about the child, the trip and the custodial arrangement (if necessary). Most also contain a consent for the accompanying adult to authorize any emergency medical attention that the child may require during the trip. The Government of Canada has prepared a list of FAQs and provides fillable Adobe PDF and Microsoft Word templates on their website. Simply complete it yourself and take it to a Notary Public or similar recognized official in your jurisdiction.

How Can a Notary Public Help?

Red Seal Notary can help write the letter for you. We can also provide an official witness to your signature on the letter of consent for travel. This will help border officials verify the authenticity of the letter. If you are unable to provide a notarized letter of consent when travelling with a minor, you may be denied entry or exit from some countries.

When planning a trip with minors, there are a lot of preparations. Don’t let a hiccup at the border undo all that careful planning!

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