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Holiday Travel: I'm Going out of the Country with my Child During the Holidays. Is There Anything I Need to do?

Parents who travel with their minor child without the other parent should have a travel consent form signed by the other parent or a court order signed that confirms you have the right to leave the country without the consent of the other parent. Make sure any requests for authorization to travel is done well in advance to avoid stress.

The government of Canada website recommends that you have the following documents when travelling with minor children: 

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate;
  • A letter of authorization signed by the parent who is not travelling, containing their address and telephone number; and,
  • A photocopy of the non-accompanying parent's signed passport or national identity card.

While a consent letter and photocopy of the non-accompanying parent's signed passport or national identity card is not a legal requirement for children's travel outside of Canada it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foregoing country, and an airline agent or Canadian officials when re-entering Canada. If the parents are separated or divorced, and share custody of the child, the parent travelling with the child should carry copies of the legal custody documents. If the parents are separated or divorced and one of them has sole custody of the child, the letter of authorization may be signed by that parent only and they should bring a copy of the custody papers. If one of the child's parents is deceased, the travelling parent should bring a copy of the death certificate. Unfortunately, if you cannot produce these documents could be delays or even a refusal to allow you to enter or exit a country. The best source of information on the consent letter and other documents required can be found HERE.

What happens if someone refuses to sign a travel document?

If travelling outside of Canada children require their own passport. You can apply for a passport for your child if you have custody or are the legal guardian. You will need to have some documentation such as a birth certificate or an adoption order. However, if the children have another guardian, they will have to sign the application as well. If the other parent refuses to sign then a judge can give you a court order for permission to sign the passport application alone and/or give you a court order stating that you may travel with the child without the other parent's authorization. Keep in mind that the courts are busy during the holiday season.  Applications for travel should be made as far in advance as is possible given the circumstances.

How can a lawyer help?

If you have questions or need assistance with holiday travel documents for the holidays but don't know where to start, a family lawyer can assist you through the process. To find out how one of our family lawyers could assist you, contact us. *Please note, if you are the non-travelling parent and you are concerned that your children won't be returned you should seek legal help immediately. You can apply to the courts to have your children's passport taken away from the other guardian. See our previous blog post, "What parents should know about the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International child abduction."

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