Travel Consent Letters Explained


Written by on March 12, 2017

What are travel consent letters?

Basically a travel consent letter is simply a document wherein the parents/legal guardians of a minor child confirm that the child is travelling outside of Canada with their knowledge and permission.  Obviously, if the child is travelling with both parents, such a letter is not required but in situations where a child travels with only one parent or is accompanied by a third party (travels with a grandparent or other relative/family friend, organization such as Girl Guides/Scouts) such a letter, while not necessarily legally required, is highly recommended.

Why are these now required/recommended?

We have been preparing these types of letters for approximately 20 years so they are not necessarily a new thing but it is becoming more common that authorities at borders are asking for them. This is largely because of incidents where a parent involved in a custody battle over a child has effectively kidnapped their own child and removed the child from Canada to a foreign country, usually a country where the kidnapping parent originated from.  In order to deter this type of activity, many countries, including Canada will have their border authorities ask a person travelling with a child for any documentation that establishes that they have the right/permission to take a child out of a country/into a country.

What happens if the parent travelling with a child does not have a consent letter?

The consequences are varied. Firstly, in many cases the authorities may not ask to see such a letter and there will be no consequences for not having one. If the border authorities do ask to see such a letter and you are not able to produce one, the consequences may be anything from additional questioning and being made to feel uncomfortable to being denied exit/entry from/to a country. I have personally observed a woman trying to board a flight to the United States with a minor child being told by the US border officer that she needed such a letter in order to board her flight with the child. Basically, if you travel with a child without a travel consent letter you risk having your vacation/travel end at a border which may be very costly if you lose air fares, booked hotels, etc.

Where can I learn more about travel consent letters?

There are resources available through the Canadian Government Foreign Affairs website. The following link will provide you with additional information about the purpose of travel consent letters and the requirements of destination countries for entry/exit, together with access to the government designed form:


Does the letter need to be signed in front of a notary?

Because there is no legally required form for a travel consent, there is no legal requirement for one to be signed in front of a notary or other official. Having said that, practically speaking, if you are questioned by a border agent and present a hand written letter purportedly signed by the consenting parent the agent may ask how she/he can be certain that the document is actually signed by the consenting parent and not a forgery. The presence of a notarized signature on the consent letter will, in most cases, provide adequate assurance to the border agent that the consent letter was duly executed by the consenting parent.

Can you notarize a consent letter for us?

Whether you ask us to prepare our form of travel consent letter for you or if you prepare the government form or your own form, we are happy to notarize the signing of the letter. In order for us to do this we will require you to present two pieces of identification, at least one of which must be government issued photo identification. We can normally schedule a 10 to 15 minute appointment for this process at a convenient time for you and, if you are dealing with this on a last minute basis, on a same day basis.

I am the sole custodial parent of my child. How do I deal with needing a travel consent letter?

The purpose of a travel consent letter is to establish that the non-travelling parent has consented to the child traveling out of the country. If you are a parent with sole custody (either by way of Court order pursuant to a divorce or by the death of the other parent) you should carry a notarized copy of the Court order giving you sole custody or the death certificate for the other parent to present to border officials to establish why you are not able/required to have the consent of the other parent. If this is your situation and your child is traveling with a third party, your consent letter should contain a reference to the circumstances pursuant to which you are the only parent required to give consent.


As indicated previously, we have been preparing these letters for people for approximately 20 years and have dealt with many issues specific to the individuals that have asked us to assist them in preparing the letters.  Whether you simply wish to have your travel consent letter notarized or to have a letter prepared reflecting your specific circumstances, we are happy to assist in a time and cost effective manner.

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