Whether you’re in a loving, committed marriage or dealing with the fallout of a separation or divorce and a resulting custody battle, if you want to take your child(ren) on a trip outside of Canada without your kid’s other parent, you are strongly advised to take a letter along that’s been signed by both parents. While a consent letter to take a child across a border with one parent is not technically legally required, it could save you time and tears at international borders.
No, you do NOT need to have this legally notarized. So save your money. As long as you have a completed form like this one, and your child’s passport, you’ll likely be just fine.
In fact, immigration authorities may never even ask for a consent form for solo-travelling parents, but it’s always a good idea to carry one just in case. The letter simply states that your Canadian child has permission to travel abroad from those parents (or guardians) who aren’t with them.
When I took my kids on a trip a few years ago to the Caribbean, it didn’t even occur to me that I’d need a note from their Dad giving me permission to leave and re-enter our own country with my biological children.
We made it to the Dominican Republic without batting an eyelash, but on our way back into Canada, the immigration officer asked me for my consent letter.
BLANK STARE. I was a deer in headlights.
Mercifully, she explained what I should have had with me and simply asked my kids to identify me. But you can never guarantee who you’re going to meet at the immigration booth…so I’ve never travelled without a parental consent letter for minors since.
Please keep in mind, however, that if your individual custody or co-parenting arrangement has special terms that involve international travel, you should definitely bypass this post and speak with a lawyer directly to ensure you meet all of its specific terms.
For more information, check out the Government of Canada’s page on the subject.
DISCLAIMER: This post does not replace legal advice or common sense.