Amid the mayhem of preparing to travel with family, it's easy to forget about the legalities of travelling with children. Here's a few tips to keep in mind as you're planning for a family vacation this summer:

  1. If travelling abroad, your child should have a valid Canadian passport, regardless of age.

  2. If your child does not yet have a passport, begin the application process as soon as possible. Processing time is currently much longer than normal.

  3. Do not sign your child's passport for them. If the child cannot sign their own passport, leave the signature blank.

  4. If travelling by airplane within Canada, check your airline's identification requirements for children; typically, a photocopy of a birth certificate or similar documentation which shows full name and birth date are required.

  5. Check the specific visiting and visa requirements of the country(ies) you are travelling to. Keep in mind that visa processing times in many places are currently longer than normal.

  6. Be aware that Transport Canada requires one guardian per child under two years old on an airplane. So, if you have two (or more) under two, you must have at least an equal number of guardians. A guardian must be 16 or older. This rule applies even if you have purchased a seat for the infant.

  7. If your infant turns two while you are away, you must purchase them a seat for the flight home.

  8. If not all parents or legal guardians are travelling with a child, you must have adequate documentation to prove your custodial and decision-making rights. This includes divorce papers, in the event of parental/guardian divorce, death certificate, if one or both parents are deceased, and a consent letter or court order.

  9. If not all parents or legal guardians are travelling with a child, it is strongly advisable to have a consent letter. A consent letter grants consent for the child to travel abroad, away from parents or legal guardians. It should be signed by anyone not travelling with the child who has a legal right to make major decisions for the child, including custody rights, guardianship rights, access rights or parental authority. It is strongly advised that the consent letter be witnessed by a notary public. Keep in mind that carrying a consent letter does not guarantee that children will be allowed to enter or leave a specific country, as every country has its own entry and exit requirements, and therefore speaking with a lawyer beforehand is crucial.

  10. If you are, or may become, involved in an ongoing custody dispute speak with a lawyer before travelling. Any custody order or agreement must permit the child to travel outside Canada and Canadian custody orders are not automatically recognized or enforceable in other countries. The legal complexities mean it is very important to get sound legal advice before travelling.

If you have questions regarding the legal aspects of travelling with children or any other family related legal matters, reach out to the experts at Getz, Collins & Associates at 403.934.2500 (Strathmore office), 587.391.5600 (Calgary office) or online at Local lawyers who care.

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

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