Most people have dealt with permission letters since childhood, even if they didn’t think much of it at the time. Students in school regularly take these letters home so they can go on field trips, take a health class or participate in sports. There are other types of permission letters, such as requests to use copyrighted material and intellectual property. A Permission Request Letter asks the recipient for the legal right to take a specific action. A Permission Consent Letter clearly states that the responsible party, like a parent, guardian, inventor, creator, or owner, is okay with this proposal and grants the request.
Consent is not automatic. The responsible party doesn’t have to say yes. Moreover, they can limit the permission to a specific use or event if they wish to do so. The requester and the person giving consent should carefully consider the possible outcome of asking and receiving permission before proceeding. Sometimes it’s easy, like knowing your kid will enjoy a bus ride and a day at the zoo with their class. Other times it’s a little more complicated, such as deciding whether to let someone use your image in photographs or allowing them to re-use a line from a song you wrote when they would make money from it.
What Is a Permission Letter?
Permission letters exist so the sender can authorize the recipient to do something legally. That ‘something’ might include using copyrighted images and materials or taking a child that isn’t yours on vacation. You can quickly determine if a permission letter is necessary by asking whether legal restrictions are involved. For example, minor children cannot go places or seek medical treatments without parental consent. Likewise, you can’t copy an artist’s work, or a passage from a book or song in many cases, unless you have permission from the creator or owner of those works. There are exceptions, but you will learn how to request or grant consent in this article.
How to Write a Permission Letter
Writing a permission letter is not overly complicated. You need to include information about who is giving permission to whom and make it clear that you consent. Most of the rest of the letter is greetings, parting statements, and dates. Avoid using a permission letter to address personal concerns or ask personal questions. You can write an informal letter later if you wonder how the sender’s mother is doing or whether they are coming to your birthday party. The list below contains all the essential elements of a permission letter.
- Your Address
- Today’s Date
- Full Name and Address of Requester
- Subject Heading- This should say something like “Regarding your request to use/borrow/take my ______ for (event or intended purpose)” The subject heading should tell the reader why you are writing them in a single sentence.
- Greeting- Use a formal salutation like ‘To or Dear’ and the recipient’s name.
- Clear, Concise Permission Statement- Tell them you received and considered the request. Then state clearly that they have your permission to proceed.
- Limitations- Mention any stipulations you may have, such as one-time use, added permission for selling derivative works containing copyrighted material, or ensuring that your child doesn’t eat tree nuts on the trip because they are allergic.
- Vital Information- This should identify the person or work clearly, so there is no question about what or who is the subject of the permission.
- Parting Statement- A parting statement should be formal, like ‘Sincerely Yours or Signed’ and your name.
- Date of Signature
- Witnesses- It’s always a good idea to have witnesses sign a permission letter since it is a form of contract.
Granting Permission for Your Child
Schools and summer camps typically have a pre-formatted consent letter for parents. However, you may have occasion to write your own. Whenever your child goes somewhere without you, it’s good to send a permission letter along with them. Overnight visits in town, like sleepovers, are the exception, though you can still send a permission letter. Follow the steps below to compose a formal permission letter.
- Subject- Example: Letter Granting Permission For My Child To Go On Vacation With _______ From (starting and ending dates go here)
- Address The Letter- Example: To:Mrs./Mr./Miss/Mx.________(use their full name) or To Whom It May Concern
- Intention and Permission- Example: I/We _______ (Full name of all parents or legal guardians) the custodians of ______ (Child’s full legal name) hereby grant permission for ______ (Full legal name of responsible adult or adults) to take my child to _______ (Location or locations) for ______ (reason) from ______ to ______ (dates).
- Special Instructions- If your child has allergies, prescription medication, or other special needs, you should include that information as well.
- Scope of Permission- This is optional. You can include specific permission for a responsible adult to supervise your child.
- Child and Parent/Guardian Identity Information- Include your child’s name, birthdate, address, and contact information for all parents or legal guardians in order of contact. If they have a passport or ID, you should include that number here. You should include your current phone number(s) and work phone numbers so The responsible party can reach you 24 hours a day.
- Signatures and Witnesses- All parents or guardians should sign the form with two witnesses or one Notary Public. Please note that you must sign in front of the witness or notary, never before they see the unsigned form.
Sample Minor (Child) Travel Consent Letter
This Consent Letter is a straightforward travel consent letter from a mother sending her child abroad with an uncle to visit family. You can use a similar format but change the destination or activity, responsible party, and dates.
Letter Granting Permission For My Child To Travel
To Whom It May Concern:
I, Ms. Jane Smith, the mother of Johnathan Edward Smith, hereby grant permission for Johnathan to travel with his maternal uncle Albert Smith from Paris, Texas, to Hamburg, Germany, on 1/22/2033 for sightseeing and to visit extended family. They are due to return on 2/3/2033 except in the case of emergency delays, written revocation, or additional written consent to extend the trip.
Johnathan Edward Smith’s Identity and Vital Information:
Date of Birth: June 6th, 2016
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Nickname (if relevant): Johnny
Home Address: 123 Any Street, Springfield, Missouri
Passport or ID Number: 1234567890
Parent/Legal Guardian Names: Ms. Jane Smith
Parental/Guardian Contact Information: Home Phone: 555-1234 Work Phone: 555-1235 Cell Phone: 555-1236
Emergency Contacts: Sally Smith (Maternal Aunt): Phone: 555-1237
Allergies: Peanuts and shellfish
Medications: Asthma inhaler (brand) to be used as needed
Signed: Ms. Jane Smith
Witnessed: Marion Marcus & Lionel Doe
Granting the Copyright Permission
Granting copyright permission is similar to child permission, except the responsible party will be using your work instead of caring for your child. These permissions should still be specific and limited. Whether you request the usage right or consent to allow it, both parties should carefully consider this process. Below are examples of both the request and consent letters.
Sample Copyright Permission Request Letter
In this Copyright Permission Request Letter, an author asks an artist if she can use his image as cover art for her novel. I’ve left out the zip code, county, and country information on the address for brevity’s sake, but you may opt to include them. A blank version follows the sample.
To: Fargo Art Studio, 987 West Lake Drive, Nashville, Tennessee
From: Ms. Jane Smith, 123 Any Street, Springfield, Missouri
Regarding: Request For Use of Copyrighted Material
Dear Mr. Fargo,
I hope this letter finds you in good health. I am writing to request your written permission to use the image of your work titled Bird On A Roof as the cover for my upcoming book titled Fly From Home. Your work is breathtaking, and I cannot imagine a better picture for my book. I have signed a publication deal with ReadMeNext Books for publication and will happily compensate you $500 and give you an artist credit if you consent.
This use would be strictly used as a part of my book cover and relevant promotional items.
Thank You For Your Time and Consideration
Sample Copyright Permission Consent Letter
The Copyright Permission Consent Letter below is a response to the request above. The artist accepts the terms and compensation offered and grants permission for the intended use. As before, a blank, fillable copy is included below the example.
To: Ms. Jane Smith, 123 Any Street, Springfield, Missouri
From: Joseph Fargo of Fargo Art Studio, 987 West Lake Drive, Nashville, Tennessee
Regarding: Consent For Use of Copyrighted Material
Dear Ms. Smith,
I received your request to use my copyrighted work, and after careful consideration have decided to allow it. You may use the image titled Bird On A Roof for your book cover and relevant book promotions. The request is flattering, the offer is fair, and I’d be happy to have an artist credit. Please let me know when the book comes out, as I would love to own a copy for my collection.
I, Joseph Fargo, the sole copyright owner of Bird On A Roof, grant Ms. Jane Smith, author of Fly From Home, permission to use the image of my work titled Bird On A Roof for the cover art and promotional materials of her book. Violation of the terms will immediately void this consent.
Jane Smith agrees to pay a nonrefundable one-time sum of $500 for the use of my work Bird On A Roof as cover art for Fly From Home. Additionally, Ms. Smith or her publishers are welcome to reproduce the image for promotional materials related to this novel only.
Signed: Joseph Fargo and Witnessed by Arnold Singh and Darcy Wong
Tips for Writing a Permission Letter
It would be best if you always kept a few things in mind when writing a permission letter. For example, permission letters generally only apply to a single instance, like a range of dates for a vacation or a specific project. This list has several simple but necessary considerations.
- Always type formal letters when possible and print them out.
- Printing a duplicate or three copies, so you have one for your records is a bright idea.
- Sign permission letters by hand in black or blue ink only.
- The scope of consent is critical. You should never give blanket permission. Instead, always set specific timelines, exact uses, or other relevant limits to your agreement.
- Payment is not always part of the terms when requesting copyright permission. In the example above, the author, a private, for-profit entity, asked an artist for permission to use the work he created at a for-profit business. The fee is often waived or ignored if the requester doesn’t plan to make money off the work they use.
- Make sure you own the copyright before you give consent. If you worked with anyone else, they might have a claim to part of the work in question.
Permission letters should not be treated lightly. When you ask for permission, it should always be polite and straightforward. You are asking for legal responsibility, after all. If you give consent, it should only be after carefully looking at the probable outcome of that permission, and never when you have unaddressed concerns. Don’t say yes if you mean no. In some cases, it’s appropriate to engage a lawyer to help you determine how to phrase a consent letter. However, most of the time, you can do it yourself. The sample letters above will help you make requests and give permission.