I’m aware that this photo doesn’t look like much.
But you see that little square of paper up there?
That is GOLD.
For reference, here’s a little excerpt from my book (which ahem ahem, you should totally maybe buy, because the second one is coming out soon – or, well, soonish, because book publishing takes longer than anything in the history of ever – and because it would make me so very extremely happy). In this excerpt, I explain what happened the first time I attempted to travel to another country with Indy, and without Kendrick.
It was terrible.
If both parents are not present at the time that a child is issued a United States passport, the absent parent must provide a notarized Statement Of Consent prior to the issuance of said travel document.
I totally knew that, which is a minor miracle in and of itself. I was uncharacteristically responsible and read it on the Internet before heading over to the post office, so when I handed in my son’s passport application I also had that (notarized!) Statement Of Consent from my husband in my hand.
I did not, however, know that were I to then fly to Canada with my son and without my husband, I would need to bring along a second letter of permission in order to gain entry to the country. It’s a rule that makes sense – yes, let’s please keep parents from traveling internationally with their children without letting the child’s other parent know – but still: it’s not a fun fact to learn while standing in a very small, very bright, very windowless room with a five-month-old baby at two o’clock in the morning.
It was the first time I was taking a flight with my son – something I was extremely nervous about to begin with – and the already stressful undertaking concluded rather spectacularly, with a Canadian Border Patrol officer making the following phone call to my husband:
“Hello, sir. This is Officer X of the Canadian Border Patrol. Do you know where your wife and child are?”
…Pause while my husband presumably lost ten years of his life to a heart attack.
“Are you aware that they boarded a flight to Canada this evening?”
Another pause. Ten more years.
It took the officer a good five minutes to reach the point in the conversation where he alerted my husband to the fact that his wife and child were both alive and not presently located in a jail, hospital, asylum, fire station, interrogation booth, and/or torture chamber. I’m sure this is protocol, but I’m also sure that this was not a pleasant experience for my husband (and also entirely my fault).
I went to Canada with him again last weekend – to Calgary, for my cousin’s wedding – and this time? TOTALLY HAD THE LETTER.
LIKE A BOSS.
You know what the weirdest part of this little rule is (besides the fact that I have no idea how you’re supposed to be aware of it if you’ve never read a blog post by a new mother who landed herself in a border patrol interrogation room and thus learned the lesson for you)? Literally all you need is a typed-up letter that says “I, A, authorize my spouse, B, to take our child, C, into country XYZ and this is their basic itinerary et cetera and he can also get medical care if he needs it blah blah the end.”
And you print it out and sign it, and that’s it.
Which means I could totally have just written the letter myself, printed it out myself, and signed Kendrick’s name myself, so I’m not sure how this provides any additional security whatsoever other than…I don’t know. It doesn’t, really. (Although big caveat, some countries require that this letter be notarized, so if you’re at all worried download the minor consent form that you can find here, fill it out, and get thee to a notary.)
TL;DR: If you’re traveling alone with a child and leaving the country, for the love of god bring a consent letter from Parent Number Two with you, because not bringing it is the WORST.