Consent Letters: One Parent Travelling Abroad with Children

Dad(?) and Kids

Dad(?) and Kids

Due to concerns about child abduction it is a good idea to have proper documentation when a parent or non-custodial guardian travels outside of the country with children.

In Canada the government provides some helpful tips on travelling with children as well as a sample consent letter that can be used to prove that the parent or guardian has permission to leave the country with children. While anybody can sign the consent letter as a witness, they recommend that the letter be witnessed by someone who can certify the document, such as a notary public or a lawyer to strengthen the validity of the letter. We’re lucky to have a couple of laywer friends who will sign these and stamp them with their fancy lawyer seals for us.

The sample letter is fairly detailed and includes names, addresses, and passport details (see below the jump for the suggested wording). Prior to using the sample letter we had a lawyer friend draft a very simple letter that basically states that the undersigned parent gives permission to the named parent to travel to such and such location between such and such dates with the children. I’m told that a simple letter is good enough, but it’s really not that much harder to use the government form.

Check out Average Traveller Interestingly, of all the people who we know who have gone through the trouble of using these letters to travel to the United States and to Asia, the only time anyone has been asked to provide the letter is upon return to Canada. This seems to indicate that other countries may not take the threat of child abduction as seriously as we do.

The US State Department website [link updated Feb 7, 2011] doesn’t seem to provide specific guidelines for providing similar consent, although it does have a lot of information on preventing child abduction.

Update (4/11/2010): There is a great discussion on this topic at Flyertalk.

The following is the sample letter provided by the Government of Canada. You can find this in doc, pdf, and wpd form as well at

To Whom It May Concern

I (We), ________________ (full name(s) of custodial and/or non-custodial parent(s)/legal guardian(s)), am (are) the____________________ (lawful custodial parent and/or non-custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s))

Child’s full name: _____________________________________
Date of birth (DD/MM/YY): _____________________________
Place of birth: ________________________________________
Canadian passport number:_____________________________
Date of issuance of Canadian passport (DD/MM/YY): ________
Place of issuance of Canadian passport: __________________

________________ (child’s full name), has my (our) consent to travel with

Full name of accompanying person: _______________________
Canadian or foreign passport number: _____________________
Date of issuance of passport (DD/MM/YY):_________________
Place of issuance of passport: ___________________________

to visit ______________ (name of foreign country) during the period of __________________ (dates of travel: departure and return). During that period, ________________ (child’s full name) will be residing with ________________ (name of person where child will be residing in foreign country) at the following address:

Number/street address and apartment number: ______________
City, province/state, country: _____________________________
Telephone and fax numbers (work and residence): _______________________

Any questions regarding this consent letter can be directed to the undersigned at:

Number/street address and apartment number: ______________
City, province/state, country: _____________________________
Telephone and fax numbers (work and residence): _______________________

Signature(s):______________________________________ Date:_________________
(Full name(s) and signature(s) of custodial parent,
and/or non-custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s))

Signed before me, ________________ (name of witness), this _________________ (date) at ________ ______ (name of location).

Signature: ________________ (name of witness)

4 thoughts on “Consent Letters: One Parent Travelling Abroad with Children

  1. You are very right not all countries require consent letters from lone parent travelling with children. From my experience as Aviation Security, if the child shares the same surename with either of the parent he/she is travelling with, many country will not demand consent letter.

  2. I’ve come across this info on a few websites, and I’m starting to get worried. We left my hubby/father of my kids behind in Malaysia when we flew home to the USA for the summer. There was no problem entering the USA, but I wonder if there will be a problem leaving. I’m hoping that an email from Daddy will do. Getting a letter notarized in English would involve him missing work and making a roadtrip to the US Consulate in Kuala Lumpur. So, I’m going to take my chances that they won’t ask. (Or perhaps I can just leave my kids behind with the grandparents? LOL)

  3. If I, the mother, will be travelling with our daughter to a foreign country, I need consent from my husband, Now the question i have is on the sample letter from Canada gov, what do we mark him as? lawful custodial parent and/or non-custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Which one applies to him? A reply would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Note that I am not a lawyer, but this is what we did and we didn’t have any problems when we were eventually asked to provide the paper. Of course, you always have to assume that customs officers will be unpredictable so your milage may vary. I think unpredictabiltiy is part of the job at customs to try to throw off the bad guys.

      It might help to Look at the .pdf version of sample document ( At the top of the document you would say “To whom it may concern, I [name], am the lawful custodial parent of [child’s name].” Then you put all the informatin about the child, followed by: “The aforementioned child has my consent to travel wtih [other parent’s name] who is also a lawful custodial parent.” Then all the information about the other parent and where they are travelling. Signatures, stamp from notary or lawyer.

      This assumes that they are, in fact, also a custodial parent. If they are something else just state it after their name. Non-custodial parent is a parent that the child does not live with, and legal guardian is actually kind of a specific legal term that I’m not knowledgeable enough to speak about. If you were giving permission for a family friend or an aunt/uncle I would just state the relationship unless you know that they are in fact a legal guardian.

      Hopefully that helps. Please let us know if you experience any problems or if customs gives you and recommendations on hwo to do this differently.


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