Travel consent letters are documents signed by guardians who will not be travelling with their child to note their consent for their child to travel outside of Canada. These letters are intended to protect children from abduction and trafficking.
Travel consent letters are not legally required by the Government of Canada when a child is travelling. However, when a minor travels abroad with only one parent/guardian, friends, other family or alone, a travel letter may be requested when entering a foreign country and re-entering Canada. Having a travel consent letter on hand may simplify the travel process.
There is no official form for consent letters. The Federal Government provides helpful information about what to include in a travel consent letter and has templates families can fill out before travelling here. The Federal Government suggests including as many details as possible. At a minimum, a consent letter should include:
- The child’s name, birth date, and any special information;
- The name of the person/group the child is travelling with and their contact information;
- The dates that the travel will be occurring; and
- A description of the child’s travel destination.
It is best practice to get travel letters witnessed by a notary public. If you need a consent letter witnessed, the lawyers at Latitude Family Law are Notaries.
The Federal Government recommends obtaining a new travel consent letter each time a child travels outside Canada. For example, a consent letter allowing the child to travel to Mexico in 2021 presented as authorization for future trips abroad may be questioned by officials.
Separated parents may be required to utilize travel consent letters by the terms of court orders or minutes of settlement (also known as separation agreements, settlement agreements or parenting agreements). These often include expectations regarding travel plans and the timing of exchanging information. For example, parties may be required to disclose travel plans 30 days before the trip and may need to provide an itinerary of where the child will be each day. It is essential to review current court orders and minutes of settlement before travelling to ensure compliance, prevent delays and avoid needing to cancel travel plans.
If you want to travel with your child and the other guardian does not agree to sign a travel consent letter, we recommend seeking legal advice. The guardian wishing to obtain consent could pursue an Alternative Dispute Resolution Process such as mediation or arbitration to try to resolve the dispute. If this is not possible or is unsuccessful, a court application may be necessary.
It is important to note that consent letters do not guarantee that a child will be able to travel abroad, as each country has their own laws and policies regarding entry and exit. While a minor is anyone under the age of 18 in Alberta, the destination country may use 19 or 21 to classify a minor. We recommend researching entry requirements for minors in the destination country.
If you have further questions about consent letters, need one witnessed by one of our Notaries, or require assistance in obtaining a travel consent letter from a guardian, please contact Latitude Family Law.