One of the questions that I get asked all the time is “do I need a travel consent to leave the country with my child?” My answer is almost always yes. Technically, a travel consent may not be necessary in all situations, but if you are asked for one and do not have one, your trip can quickly turn into a nightmare. Although travel consents are not a legal requirement in Canada, they are a requirement in many other countries. If you travel to one of those countries without a consent, you could be delayed or denied entry.
Travel consents are not just good to have when a separated or divorced person is travelling with children, but in any situation where one parent is travelling with children and the other parent is staying home. They are also important if a child is travelling with an adult other than their parent, including in a group.
There is no magic formula for exactly what should be in a travel consent, but the more specific it is, the better. There is some basic information that is necessary, such as the names and dates of birth of the children travelling, and of the people that they are travelling with, the dates of travel, and the destination. It also has to name the parent or parents staying behind, and specify that they are aware of the travel details and consent to the child going. If possible, flight numbers and passport numbers are helpful as well. If you are driving across the border, you can add in the license plate of the car and its make and model. If you have hotels booked, put in their name and city. Are all these things necessary? No. Are they helpful? Absolutely. The more details that are available, the lower your chances are of having a hard time at the border or at the airport. It shows the person reading the consent that the parent or parents are aware of exactly where their child is going to be and are ok with the details of the trip.
Travel consents can be witnessed by any adult, but it is a safer bet to have them notarized. This will make it less likely that someone will question you about whether it is fake.
The only time that you definitely will not need a travel consent is if both parents are travelling together with their children, and will be remaining together for the entire trip. Although it may be a bit of a hassle to get a travel consent made up and signed, and although you may never be asked for it on your trip, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
Kristen Morris is an associate at the law firm of Cobb & Jones LLP. For more articles, visit the Library page at www.cobbjones.ca.