Thursday, September 22, 2011

Traveling with children as a solo parent

If you are planning to travel outside of Canada with your child(ren) minus their other parent, make sure you carry the proper documentation:
  • A valid passport for yourself AND each child
  • A consent letter confirming the child has permission to travel outside of Canada with only one parent.  While not mandatory, it is a good idea to get the letter certified, stamped or sealed by an official who has the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration (i.e., a commissioner for oaths, notary public, lawyer, etc.) Sample consent letter
You will also need to carry parentage documents:
  • A detailed birth certificate* indicating the name of the parent(s) issued by a the provincial or territorial vital statistics agency if the child was born in Canada OR
  • An order of adoption indicating the name of the adoptive parent(s); or
  • A foreign birth certificate indicating the name of the parent(s) (documents in a language other than English or French must be translated to either English or French) if the child was born outside of Canada.
In the event of separation or divorce, you will also need to carry your:
  • Divorce or separation documents
  • Custody documents
In the event the other parent is deceased, you will need to carry a copy of the death certificate.

Effective December 1, 2011, you must submit parentage documents along with Canadian passport applications for children under 16 (if they are applying for the first time).  It will be interesting to see if these new passports will suffice on their own for travel, or whether the separate parentage documents will still have to be carried.  Visit Passport Canada for the latest information about passports for children.

* It is a good idea to carry a child's detailed birth certificate even when both parents are traveling together, particularly when the parents are using differing surnames, so there is no question of parentage.

Because every parent’s situation is different and the requirements of every country differ, be sure to visit Foreign Affairs Canada to check for updates on the requirements.  You should also contact the representatives of the country or countries to be visited by the child to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information regarding their own specific entry requirements.

Helpful Resources:

Traveling with Children (Foreign Affairs Canada)
Passport Canada

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