The Government of Canada strongly recommends that children (people under the age of 19 in British Columbia) carry a consent letter from their parents or guardians if travelling outside of Canada alone or without all their parents and legal guardians. The purpose of such a letter is to provide evidence that the child has permission to travel outside of Canada and that the persons travelling with the child have permission to bring the child out of the country.
While it is not a Canadian legal requirement, foreign immigration authorities may request a consent letter when a child is entering or leaving their territory. Canadian border officials may also request it when a child re-enters Canada.
A travel consent letter should be signed by each parent and anyone with custody rights or guardianship rights who will not be travelling with the child. The signatures on the consent letter should be witnessed by a lawyer or a notary to reduce the risk of border officials questioning its authenticity.
If one is the only parent or guardian, and one is travelling outside of the country with a child, it is wise to bring legal documentation that proves that one need not seek the consent of anyone else to bring the child out of Canada. One should bring, for example, a death certificate demonstrating that the other parent is deceased, or a court order or family-law agreement (e.g. parenting plan or separation agreement) that sets out that one is the only guardian of the child and does not require anyone else’s consent.
Before travelling it is also a good idea to check with the embassy or consulate of the destination country to find out what documents they may require and what, if any, formal requirements there may be for signing such documents. It is also smart to check with any transportation companies the child may be using to ensure compliance with their policies and regulations concerning child travellers.
Conveniently, the Government of Canada provides a form letter in both a Microsoft Word text file format and a fillable PDF here.
If you would like us to witness your travel consent, please let us know, we are happy to help.