Traveling Abroad & Your Child: Travel Consent Letters

December 4, 2023
December 4, 2023 Plat Simionati

Traveling Abroad & Your Child: Travel Consent Letters

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide educational information about creating a travel consent letter, minor children traveling without both parents and more. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Consult with a lawyer and exercise your discretion before taking action based on the information provided in the blog. 

Preparing for a family vacation involves a whirlwind of activity, from choosing the ideal destination to ensuring everyone’s packed and ready. Yet amidst the excitement, parents can inadvertently overlook the legal intricacies of traveling with minors.

In this article, we’ll discuss navigating scenarios where your minor child travels without the other parent, whether you are married or not. We will also explore how separation or divorce could impact your travel arrangements. This will equip you with essential information to pave the way for a smoother and stress-free travel experience for your family.

What is a Travel Consent Letter?

A notarized travel consent letter is not legally required in Canada for domestic travel, meaning travelling to a different province or territory. However, when it comes to a child travelling outside Canada, it is important to understand what documentation you need before leaving for your vacation. 

Each parent or guardian must consent to their child’s travel.  This applies to parents who are married or even if you have full decision making responsibility for your child.  This issue may also arise if someone else is accompanying the child travelling outside the country, such as a grandparent

What do you Include in a Travel Consent Letter?

The government of Canada strongly recommends that you carry a consent letter proving that your children have permission to travel. This usually takes the form of a notarized consent letter. Immigration authorities may request this document when entering or leaving a foreign country. You must carry it with you. Failure to provide it when requested can lead to delays or refusal to enter or leave a country.

The details of this letter may differ. A consent to travel letter may be used for a specific trip and may outline the dates of travel, destinations and the other parent’s contact information

Other families have a more generic letter that gives blanket permission to travel to a foreign country with their child.  The Canadian government recommends that a notary public notarize the letter and that you travel with the notarized letter rather than a copy. 

The Government of Canada has a travel consent form and travel consent letter template on its website. You can modify that letter to fit your specific circumstances. Key details to include in the letter involve information about the child, the accompanying adult’s relationship to the child, and the parent/guardian granting permission, along with signatures from the consenting parties.

These documents serve as vital safeguards against potential issues or suspicions related to unauthorized travel or child abduction. 

Renewing and Handling Your Child’s Passports

Renewing passports becomes particularly complex for divorced or separated parents and Passport Canada strictly regulates children’s passport applications.

Incorporating specific clauses in a separation agreement can preemptively address these concerns, outlining your responsibilities regarding passport applications and travel plans. 

Your separation agreement may include provisions that allow either parent to apply for a passport and include an obligation for the other parents to sign the application form. It may also include details on which parent will retain your child’s passport when you are not travelling. 

When applying for your child’s passport, ensure you have all the supporting documents relating to your child, including separation agreements, court orders, and divorce judgments. Being prepared with this documentation can streamline your process of applying for a passport.  

Incorporating Travel into Your Separation Agreement and Parenting Plan 

Within your separation agreement and parenting plan, there’s often discussion around travel parameters. Have you considered the destinations your child can visit? Certain parents opt to exclude countries with travel advisories to prioritize their child’s safety. 

Conversely, you may refuse to allow your child to travel to destinations that are not under the Hague Convention, ensuring a framework exists for the child’s return if the other parent takes them there. It’s important to consider how you will safeguard your child’s well-being, no matter where their adventures take them.

Your separation agreement will also likely include the logistics around travelling with your child. For example, the parent who is not accompanying the child must sign a consent letter. The agreement may note that it must be signed within a certain timeframe before a vacation. The traveling parent may be required to provide details and a travel itinerary, including contact information, within a certain time period. 

These are all considerations to discuss with your ex-spouse when negotiating your separation agreement.  

Make Your Family’s Travel a Smooth Journey with Plat Simionati LLP  

As you navigate your family travel arrangements, remember that Plat Simionati LLP is here to support you. Whether you’re establishing essential consent documents or outlining travel boundaries within your separation agreement, our team specializes in providing tailored guidance.

Reach out to our team today to ensure your child’s safety and your peace of mind during travels. Let us assist you in securing the necessary documentation and strategies, ensuring smoother journeys for you and your family. We’re here to help you navigate these (and other) complex family issues with confidence. Contact us to learn more.