A letter of consent gives an individual, group, or organization permission to perform some action. The letter of consent sounds much like a letter of permission, except there is one major difference: The letter of consent is considered a legal document, whereas a letter of permission is not.
You might be under the impression that a child traveling with one parent does not require any additional documentation, but surprisingly, you’d be wrong. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, it’s recommended that the parent traveling with the child have some letter or other documentation. Both parents must sign the note, letter, or form.
Why is this an issue? Well, today’s world is a dangerous place for children under 18. Perhaps that one parent has just ‘stolen’ the child without their partner’s knowledge, due to a divorce dispute. Other reasons for documentation endorsed by both parents is the threat of child trafficking.
As previously stated, the letter of consent is different from a letter of permission, in that a letter of consent is seen as a legal document. As such, you need to be watchful that you include the correct information. For instance, the CBP suggests a letter, as it does not have a formal form for you to fill out and download, so let’s go over that now. Here is the basic statement to include, and it comes from the CBP site: (https://help.cbp.gov/s/article/Article-1254?language=en_US)
“I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission.”
Elements Which Must Be Present
According to the CBP, you need to write a “Parental Consent Letter.” Below are the questions you are to answer and place in the parental consent letter. The CBP also encourages the parental letter of consent to be notarized, and allow it to have a shelf-life of just one year.
- Who: The names of all involved
- What: What the letter is about
- Where: What is the destination
- When: The start and end dates
- Why: The reason for the journey
- Include absent parent contact information.
Use a Professional Tone and Keep it Brief
As you can see, the above statement states who have consent, and remember, a letter of consent is seen as a legal document. When it comes to the actual letter, there are a few concepts to keep in mind. First, keep the letter brief, including only information regarding your topic. The tone needs to be professional and businesslike. As this is a legal travel letter of consent, it should be written in English so authorities can easily understand it if you are traveling out of the U.S. All that’s left is to include the information stated by the CBP, as listed above, and you’re done!
While it’s not required, it is strongly recommended that you write a parental letter of consent if your child is traveling overseas. But, before you do, it’s imperative that you find out the information required by the country your child will be visiting. Keep in mind that your child having a letter of consent does not automatically gain your child entrance nor exit from a specific country. To find out the requirements, visit the embassy of that country and inquire about child travel. To find an embassy, check out the list on the U.S. Passport Service website here, (https://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/embassy.html). If you have any questions that require a more professional answer, then it’s best to contact your lawyer for advice.
Below are two sample letters for you to use at your convenience. The first letter is for domestic travel, while the second is for international travel. The second differs from the first in that international travel will require a passport number. It’s also laid out in an easy to read form letter. Both letters are to be written in English to facilitate understanding. Finally, always remember to:
- Have the letter notarized
- Make a copy for your records
- Attach a copy of their birth certificate
- Both parents must sign the letter
Sample Letter of Consent to Travel with One Parent (for Domestic Travel)
Letter of Consent to Travel with One Parent (for International Travel)
The following sample letter is based on the format present on the U.S. Passport Service website (https://www.us-passport-service-guide.com/minor-travel-consent-form.html). This is more of a fill-in-the-blank letter format, where information is put in an organized and easy to read way.