If only one parent or legal guardian is accompanying a minor child on a trip outside of Canada it has become fairly standard that the border guards require written permission before they allow you to cross the border. Even if both parents are not separated but they are traveling alone or at different times, the parent that takes the child across the border should have written permission from the other parent. This applies whether you are driving or flying.
You may not always be asked for the written authorization, but it is highly recommended that you have an authorization with you. If you are asked and you do not have written authorization, you can wave goodbye to your scheduled flight while you scramble to contact the other parent, to have them scramble to contact a lawyer (is it a weekend?), so they can get a notarized, written permission sent to you to allow you to travel with your child. You may not need to have it notarized, but again, sometimes they look for the notary seal to ensure that it was completed properly and without fraud.
You may also address this concern with a consent court order giving each other the permission to travel, the specific terms and details will be determined by what works for you. If you have difficulties obtaining consent travel authorizations from the other parent, you may make a court application to obtain a judge’s order authorizing the travel. If you have to make such an application, it is highly likely that the judge will order costs against the other parent for being difficult without a good reason. Judges do what is in the best interests of the child, and rarely is there a good reason to oppose travel with a child or to send a child on a vacation trip.
You can also word orders or authorization to be permanent or to cover a long period of time. For example, if you find you travel south a lot into the U.S.A., you might want a travel authorization that covers all summer, or a one year period, or is permanent; that way you do not need to ask for and obtain one for each trip.
If neither parent is travelling with the child and your child is being taken across the border by a family friend, relative or on a school or group outing, then both parents / legal guardians must sign the Travel Authorization form.
Medical Emergencies – it is important to state on the travel authorization that the accompanying adult has your permission to make medical emergency decisions. You do not want to have delays in medical care while authorities try to contact you to perform emergency medical procedures.
Download our .pdf Travel Authorization Form for one parent and for two parent authorizations below: