I have been traveling solo with my kids since they were babies. Whether it was a weekend in Southern California to visit Legoland or a few weeks in Hawaii. In those cases my (then) husband was not able to come because he had to work. Fast forward to now, and I travel solo with my kids all over the world and have been doing it for the last 5 years!
My boys have explored the desert in Jordan, been to the iconic cliffs of Santorini, taken a cog train in Switzerland and many many more places. These are all a long way from our home in Vancouver, Canada and I have never had a problem leaving Canada as a solo parent.
This is likely because I always carry a notarized letter of consent to travel with one parent.
Why do you need a letter of consent to travel with one parent?
Unfortunately, there are cases of child abductions (and human trafficking) due to the ease and availability of international travel. While most travel is completely legit, I do understand that it is important to protect children and am always willing to do whatever is necessary to enjoy the privilege of travel.
If a child is traveling internationally with only one parent or with another adult (i.e., a grandparent or other relative, friend, school teacher, etc.) they should carry a letter of consent, and if possible, it should be notarized.
In my opinion, if it cannot be notarized, any letter is better than no letter, it shows airline staff, immigration officers or travel companies that you are aware of the issues surrounding children traveling with one parent or guardian.
Tips for Solo and Single Parents preparing to travel with their children
- make sure passports are all current and not within an expiry window (some countries require 6 months validity, some 90 days etc)
- contact the airline, or other transport company you will be using to check its policies and regulations for child travellers.
- obtain a consent letter and a photocopy of the other parents passport or photo ID.
Information for Canadians
A consent letter is not a legal requirement in Canada, but it can simplify travel for Canadian children (and those traveling with them) and it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a country. It can also be requested by Canadian officials when re-entering Canada. I have personally been asked for it when checking in for a flight by airline staff as well.
The Canadian Government also states that “carrying a consent letter does not guarantee that children will be allowed to enter or leave a country, as every country has its own entry and exit requirements.” but in my experience, I have never been denied entry (or exit) of any country with my children and their passports and the travel consent letter.
Recommended Form for Canadians
Suggested form for travel with children with just one parent in the USA
So with all of that being said, I travel a lot. So I have created a basic open dated letter that I use to travel with my boys. You can see it below.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.