Travelling over the holidays is stressful: the airports are busy and the border line ups are long; travelers are often carrying more luggage than they normally would; and, everyone is in a rush! When the pressure is on to get to the beautiful, white sand beaches of Hawaii, Montana’s snow-covered mountains or any other international destination, the last thing that a travelling parent needs to worry about is being told that they do not have the proper documentation to travel with their children. Immigration officials at airports and border crossings have the authority to prevent a child from entering the country if they are not satisfied that the parent travelling with the child has the authorization to travel.
When a minor child is travelling with only one parent or guardian, we recommend that the travelling parent have a consent letter from the other parent and/or legal guardians authorizing the trip in order to make their holiday travels easier. A sample consent letter is available on the Government of Canada website at http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children/consent-letter. Travelling parents should include as much detail in the letters as possible, and ensure that they carry an original version of the letter, which should be certified by a lawyer, notary or commissioner of oaths. We also recommend that the travelling parent carry the child or children’s long form birth certificate.
Some parents may have court orders in place that set out that consent letters are not required if one parent is travelling with the child. In those cases, the travelling parent should carry a copy of the court order with them.
Even though these are recommendations and not legal requirements, having these documents with you may reduce complications that could arise and help you get to your final destination more easily.