If you are traveling abroad, or even to the states, with children, and both parents are not travelling with the family unit, make sure you have completed a consent letter.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada has a form to generate a consent letter. You can print off the form, and fill out as is; or you can modify the letter to meet your specific needs and situations. Alternative formats may be found at www.travel.gc.ca/letter.
The form itself asks for the full name and contact information about the person(s) or organization giving consent for the minor child. You are asked the relationship with the traveling child – whether you are the lawful person (s) or organization with either custodial rights, guardianship rights, parental authority (in Quebec only), or other. The child’s full name is required, as is the place and date of birth. The child’s sec, passport number, date of issue of passport, and issuing authority of passport is also required.
Information about the accompanying person is also required – including full name, place and date of birth, sex, relationship to the child, and passport information.
In addition, the contact information during the trip is required. The consenting person(s) or organization gives consent for the aforementioned child and accompanying person to visit the specified location, with full name of person with whom the child will be residing in foreign country, stet address, city, province/state, telephone, fax, email, date of departure from Canada, and date of return to Canada.
Think of consent letters being required any time you leave Canada – and even if there is no custodial (dis) agreement in place. For my own family of 4, we always travelled together when we left the country until this recent trip. I left Canada to go to Las Vegas for the Virtuoso luxury travel week. My husband and two girls will follow later. But even though they are coming to visit me, we still needed a letter.
The signature of the consenting adult has to be witnessed. Obviously, it’s always best to consult your lawyer about proper approvals, and whether signatures should be certified/ the document notarized – this is particularly true if custodial issues/ (dis)agreements are at play.
But learn from my experience – don’t leave consent letters until the last minute. A sudden trip (like what I’d just planned for my own family) can go awry really quickly without such a letter…or have you begging the indulgence of your lawyer. (Thank goodness, in my case, my kind-hearted neighbour just happens to be an awesome family lawyer). Plan for these circumstances so you can travel abroad with children as easily as possible.