Do I Need A Travel Consent Letter to Bring a Child Across the Border?
In theory you don’t.
However, both the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canadian Border Services Agency very strongly recommend that children traveling out of their home country carry a consent letter proving they have permission to make a trip without one or both of their legal parents or guardians.
On the Canadian Government website (and on our website as well) you can find a recommended travel consent letter sample. Simply fill out and bring it into our office, LC Notary in Langely, BC, to be notarized before taking it with you and presenting it to the Border official when requested.
There is no legal requirement that you notarize the Consent Letter, but it is highly recommended by both the U.S. and Canadian border services. We have also heard reports from travellers to the U.S. that border agents argued that notarizing the letter was mandatory. So, to be safe – get it done.
A Notary is someone who has been approved by the government to act as an impartial witness to the signing of important documents. The notary examines the document and confirms that the signers are who they say they are, that they are signing the document without intimidation, and that they understand what they are signing.
When your child reaches the border, officers will be making a judgment call as to whether something is wrong. They will very likely address a question or two towards the minor child. If everything seems OK, they may waive the vehicle through without asking for an authorization letter. However, if they have any concerns, they will begin examining the situation to determine their course of action. The consent letter puts all the information they need in one spot and provides a strong indication that the trip is approved by the child’s parents or guardians.
If your child is traveling with one parent, the letter needs to be signed by the parent not going on the trip. If the child is traveling with someone other than the parents (e.g. grandma), then both parents have to sign the letter. You would also need to insert that accompanying person’s contact information. Lastly, after notarizing the letter, don’t forget to give your child and/or responsible adult a copy of that letter.
NOTE: If your child is travelling to any other country than the U.S., we recommend that you research the requirements for visiting that specific country and maybe make copies of this letter in both languages (English and that native language).
If you have any questions about the details or implications, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: 604-375-2679.