Travel Consent Letters for Children: why your ID matters
February 16, 2015
By Tim Janzen, Notary Public
Have you ever let your child travel to Disney World with their grandparents? They have a great time, and you have a nice, quiet week at home.
When you let your child travel out of the country (and make no mistake, even the United States is another country!), the Government of Canada strongly recommends that you make out a travel consent letter, giving permission to the people taking your child, and setting out your child’s personal information, with details about their proposed trip, and the people who will be taking them.
This travel consent letter isn’t legally required, and there is no legislated format (or signing formalities) for it, but it is recommended that you have this consent letter be notarized.
Getting a notarized travel consent letter might seem like overkill when your parents are just taking your kids to Disney World, but what happens when your former spouse takes your child out of the country?
Hundreds of children are wrongfully abducted from Canada each year, very frequently by a parent who has family ties to another country. Getting an abducted child back is incredibly difficult, expensive and can take a very long time. It is devastating to the parent who has to fight to get their child back.
If the person traveling with your child can produce a notarized travel consent letter, the officials who are letting your child travel trust that an abduction is not likely in progress.
In most cases, as notaries, we don’t personally know the people who come before us to have their signatures on a travel consent letter notarized. So how do we know that the person in front of us has the right to give permission for your child to leave the country? How do we prove that the person giving this permission is, in fact, you?
In short, your ID. When a person cannot produce appropriate ID, we will not take their signature on that travel consent letter.
Your ID must meet certain criteria. For example:
you must have two pieces of government-issued ID (your Costco card, library card and bus pass DO NOT count!)
one of the pieces of ID must have a photo on it (and that photo must be of you!)
one of the pieces of ID must have your signature on it (so we can compare it to the signature on your letter)
your ID cannot have expired – check the dates on your ID well before you come to see us in case you need to have it updated (and give yourself lots of time to get it updated if necessary)
your ID must be intact – we must be able to read your name on it, see your picture, see the unique identifying number on it, and determine who issued the card – we will not take broken, taped together or chewed on cards
the names on your ID must match each other, and the name on your document – think of how many people on families have similar names:
Mary Smith is NOT necessarily the same person as Mary Jane Smith
Chen Liu is not necessarily the same person as Liu Chen
Allan J. MacLeod is not necessarily the same person as A.J. McLeod
So when you are planning your trip for your child:
do not rely on solely travel consent letters provided by a school or church – do your own research into what is required for your child to travel
make sure to check your own ID very early on in the process – you may need to have your own ID sorted out before you can make arrangements for your child, and this might take several weeks
check the policies of the country your child is traveling to, to ensure that you get the right documentation for both exit and entry of that country, and of Canada – each country has different requirements for entry and exit
ask the transportation company your child will be travelling with about their policies and regulations for child travellers
When you have your travel consent letter filled out (but not signed!), and your ID meets the necessary requirements, please check our website to set up an appointment with a notary near you. We will be happy to help you.