Here are a few tips to protect your children and avoid delays while travelling.

You will need certain documents when you cross international borders:

  • All children need a passport, no matter what their age. Contact Passport Canada  for information on how to apply, and to find out about new rules for passport applications for children under 16, effective December 1, 2011. 
  • If travelling alone or with only one parent or guardian, your child should carry a consent letter confirming permission from the other parent to leave the country. Click here for a sample letter (Foreign Affairs Canada), or you can see your family law lawyer to assist with drafting the consent letter.
  • Whether you have custody or access rights, or are the legal guardian of the child you are travelling with, you should carry a copy of the separation documents or court order giving you these rights.

If you think a custody dispute might arise, you should get legal advice before your child leaves Canada. Other countries may not recognize your child custody arrangements. See International Child Abductions: A Manual for Parents for more information. The Canadian Public Prosecution Service also has  information about Parental Child Abduction, including on the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

Double-check any court orders and agreements between you and your ex-spouse to make certain there are no limits on taking your child out of the province or country. If you are unsure, get legal advice.

Last but not least,  do not make firm travel plans until you have all required documents and consents.  Plan your trip abroad well in advance, and give yourself enough time to deal with any possible bumps in the road.

For more information, see Passport Canada's information on Travelling with Children, go to the Foreign Affairs website for information on Children and Travel, and visit nsfamilylaw.ca

Last reviewed January 2017