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Old 08-20-2013, 06:52 PM   #1
Rathji
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Default US Travel Letter for Kids

There is a family event in Montana that we are not able to attend this weekend, but my Wife's sister is willing to take my daughter down with them. Whenever my wife has gone down without me, I would always just write a letter for permission.

My sister in law is saying that she always has gotten the letter notarized first, which has me thinking that either she is insane or my wife has just been lucky when she has gone down.

What is required? Is it different when it isn't one parent taking the child down?
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:56 PM   #2
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I recalled that we had this discussion a little while ago - maybe there is some information for you in this thread?
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:56 PM   #3
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I'm a commissioner for oaths and a client asked me to commission one of these. I said I thought it had to be notorized, but she checked and was told a commissioned letter would suffice. It worked fine. I wouldn't act on this information. Just make sure you know what is needed beforehand. Sometimes it depends who you ask, as one person at the office you call may give you a different requirement.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:21 PM   #4
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Go on the government of Canada website. There are sample forms for you there that you can fill out online and print. It wouldn't hurt to get it notarized and make sure the kids have their passports
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:27 PM   #5
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I've done some family law and have seen travel letters signed routinely when kids are travelling without one or both parents.

Better to have one completed and witnessed by a lawyer/notary/commissioner than to risk trying to cross a border and getting denied.

As was said, you can find templates from the gov't here.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:33 PM   #6
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we travel across the border regularly. The recommendation is different depending which way you're going. The American side suggests notarization (which is not as big a burden-- $5 page if done where we live, but rates may vary regionally). As mentioned above, the Canadian recommendation is a signed letter.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:55 PM   #7
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My kids cross the border to and from Canada with my parents 5, 6 times a year. I just write a letter, and half the time they don't look at that. The Americans will recommend getting it signed by a Notary but never once has this been a problem for our family, either side.
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:02 PM   #8
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The US and Canadian boarder do not require anything to be notarized. They do recommend it as if the boarder guard has any suspicions it will ease their minds where as a signed letter suffice but they may question more.

https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/det...hPaGh5bA%3D%3D

http://www.ezbordercrossing.com/the-...with-children/
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:21 PM   #9
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Yeah my sister travels with her kid a ton and she's never had anything notarized, just a signed letter from her ex.

I always get the letter stamped or whatever at a registry, seems to make things smoother for my wife when she travels with our kid.

Visible minority might play into it, when we travel together we hardly ever get any additional attention. My wife and son alone though (she's visibly spanish) get a ton of extra attention, more questions, delays, inspections, etc etc.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:07 PM   #10
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My wife flies back and forth without me quite regularly, and we have never notarized anything. One time one usbp guy had a little freak out about it, but he just wanted to see a copy of our passports to compare signatures. And border peeps occasionally like to freak out about anything once in a while (most are really good honestly, but 5% of any profession are wing nuts).

So now she brings a basic letter that we both sign, along with copies of our passports. Never had any issues, and they usually don't care about the passport copies.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:40 PM   #11
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Thanks all.

I have no issues with the letter I normally write when my wife takes the kids across, but sending my daughter without either of us has me paranoid.

I think I will print the generated letter from the form and get it notarized, no sense risking her being stuck down there.
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Old 08-20-2013, 09:45 PM   #12
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I will write one for them.
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:28 AM   #13
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From the posts, I am getting the impression that most write up a new letter each time you travel. Is the letter retained by CBP after you come back so that it's not used again, or is the information you put in it specific to the travel itinerary? The CPB website's example doesn't seem to include specific info besides "A is allowed to travel with B and C, signed, D"
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Old 08-21-2013, 12:52 AM   #14
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When I do these for clients I do get pretty specific so as to give as much info as a paranoid border guard might want.

Itinerary - Dates of travel - Accompanied by whom - Where staying at destination and with whom - Consent for accompanying person to authorize medical care for the minor.
Include passport #'s and names for both parents and the child as well.

It's not rocket science, but the more official it looks, the less likely you will have a problem.
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wormius View Post
From the posts, I am getting the impression that most write up a new letter each time you travel. Is the letter retained by CBP after you come back so that it's not used again, or is the information you put in it specific to the travel itinerary? The CPB website's example doesn't seem to include specific info besides "A is allowed to travel with B and C, signed, D"
I always made sure my wife brought it back, as I would include a copy of my DL or Passport. The letter always included a date of travel as well.
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Old 08-21-2013, 07:35 AM   #16
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I've traveled probably 50-60 times across with my kids. I've always had a notorized letter. I guess it wasn't worth the risk for me in case I got the border guard having a bad. I've only been asked to show the letter about 8 times. One time it was looked over pretty good. I just used the template from the website and we put all dates I know we may be going down, to limit the number of letters we write. Usually I do a summer one and a winter one for when we go to the cabin, but we do one-offs for air travel where I include all of the flight information.

I have friends who also never had an issue without an notorized letter. I think I'm more paranoid of getting in trouble because I have property down there.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:02 AM   #17
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I recommend that the letter be notarized (I'm surprised that some of you are getting through without this. I wouldn't take that chance). This form is often used:

http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children/consent-letter

I don't charge CP members for this service. You need to prepare the letter yourself before attending.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:27 AM   #18
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I recommend getting it notarized. Make it formal and official because the last thing you want to happen is someone to start arguing laws with a border agent. When you do it typically doesn't end well.

In this case make sure BOTH parents are signing the form as neither one of you will be accompanying the child.

In my experience if you live in one country (for me the US) but have citizenship in another (Canada) do not even attempt to bring children into your country of Citizenship without a formal notarized letter from the other parent. I've been told point blank multiple times that if I didn't have the notarized letter from my wife I'd be denied entry into Canada and the kids and I would be held until they had established satisfactory contact with my wife that it was okay. I've always had the notarized letter so I've never had an issue.

What that satisfactory contact would be is dependent on the agent/supervisor at the time. It might mean a phone call(s), it might mean the other parent has to use representatives of the law to prove her identity and get them to send documentation it was OK, or it might mean they would never be satisfied and we'd be turned away. And you can understand why they'd be so careful...I have citizenship in Canada as do the kids. For all they know my wife doesn't have citizenship in Canada or she would be denied entry into Canada if she tried crossing providing a several day head start if I were abducting the kids (which to be clear I'd never ever even consider). They are additionally wary if they know you have family and resources in Canada.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:47 AM   #19
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I'm divorced and deal with this frequently travelling with my daughter. My understanding is:

Commisioner of Oaths is suitable for inter-provincial/within Canada travel.
Notarizied is required for International travel.

You can look it up on the government of canada website and I believe they have some guidelines as well as draft letters you can use and just fill in the blanks.

As a side note, no customs official, airline employee, or border guard has ever asked to see these letters when I'm travelling with my daughter and we do have different last names. I'd never recommend trying to travel without one though, just because the consequences could be pretty serious for your flight/vacation plans.

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Old 08-21-2013, 12:02 PM   #20
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just this past week global bc did a segment on this exact topic

they highly recommended a notarized letter becuz it pretty much depends on the border guard. some won't really care, but others will be by the book - and if you don't have everything correct and you get the 'by the book guy' you might be turning around.... or you could just leave your kid at the border.... but then the 'by the book guy' would probably look down on that too
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