Do you need any legal documents to be able to leave Canada with your child?

When travelling out of the country with your children, you want to be as prepared as possible. If you travel without the other parent, or you are the only parent, you must bring along documents to prove that you're allowed to take your children out of the country.

For example, if you have a court order that deals with parenting (including guardianship, parenting arrangements, or custody and access), you should bring a copy of the order with you. If your children have another guardian or someone else shares custody of them with you, you need a consent letter from that person giving you permission to take the child out of the country. If your children don’t have another guardian, you need legal documents that prove you don’t need permission from anyone to travel. For example:

  • a death certificate (if the other parent is deceased),
  • a court order saying you're the only guardian and can travel without authorization; or
  • an agreement saying you're the only guardian and can travel without authorization.

These documents are also necessary when you’re applying for passports for children (or any other time you need to prove you’re a sole guardian, such as for school trips).

If you don’t have any of these documents, get legal help.

Although it isn't required for travel to all countries, just to be safe, you may want to have any consent letter notarized. That means a lawyer or notary public watches you sign the letter and then signs it as a witness to your signature.

Tip: For more information about finding a lawyer, see Who can help? To find a notary public, see the Society of Notaries Public of BC website. You might not be asked for these documents, but it's always safer to have them with you, in case they're required.

You might also need to provide other documents when entering another country. You can contact the embassy or consulate of the country you're travelling to and ask which documents might be required and whether they need to be notarized. For more information, see the Child Abductions and Custody Issues and the Children and Travel pages of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website. This site also contains sample consent letters you could use and a link to embassy and consulate contact information.

For more information about travelling with children, see Travel with minors on the Canadian Border Services Agency website.

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