If your upcoming international vacation or other travel plans include travelling with a child or children, consider whether you will need to obtain a travel consent letter prior to your departure. A travel consent letter shows that you have the permission of the child’s parent(s) or guardian(s) to travel with them.
When should you get a travel consent letter?
Obtaining a travel consent letter is strongly recommended if you will be travelling internationally with a child without all of their parents or guardians. Such occasions arise when, for example, one parent travels alone with a child, grandparents take their grandchildren on a trip, or a child travels with extended family or a school group.
If you are a parent who will be travelling alone with a child or children you should obtain a travel consent letter for each child, even if you are married to or living with the other parent, and even if the child or children share your last name. If neither parent or guardian will be travelling with the child(ren), a travel consent letter for each child should be signed by parent(s) or guardian(s).
In the present climate of concern with child abductions and trafficking, a travel consent letter tells border officials that a child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) have given permission for the child to travel with you.
The letter should identify details including the full name of the child, the destinations of travel, and the dates of travel and return. The travel consent letter should be signed in front of a notary. This step is not required, but is highly recommended. A notary’s stamp and signature on the letter tells the inspecting authorities that the identity of the signer has been verified.
Border officials may not ask to see a travel consent letter every time a child is travelling, but they are entitled to ask, and in some countries, they may be required to ask. It is a small and quick step for you to take in order to avoid potential delays in travel.
For those planning a trip to the United States, keep in mind that although it is not far away, it is still an international destination and anyone crossing the border with a child should have a signed travel consent letter from any non-accompanying parent(s) or guardian(s).
Who needs to sign a travel consent letter?
Travel consent letters should be signed by every non-accompanying person or organization with the legal right to make decisions for the child, including anyone with custody or guardianship rights.
A parent with sole custody travelling alone with a child will need to consider a travel consent letter from the access parent.
For advice about travel consent letters in your particular circumstances, particularly if you are a party to a separation agreement, parenting plan or court order that has specific terms regarding travel, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in travel consent letters.
Tenk Tatum LLP would be pleased to advise you regarding travel consent letters.