Do you need any legal documents to leave Canada with your children?


Some terms in the Divorce Act changed on March 1, 2021

Effective March 1, 2021, the federal Divorce Act uses terms similar to those in the BC Family Law Act.

  • The terms decision-making responsibility and parenting time replaced "custody."
  • The terms contact and parenting time replaced "access."

If you're travelling outside of Canada with your children, you'll probably be asked to prove (show) that you're allowed to take your children out of the country if:

  • you're travelling without the child's other parent, or
  • you're their only parent.

You'll need certain documents to do this:

  • If you share parenting of your children with someone else, bring a letter from that person that says they give you permission to take the children out of Canada. The Government of Canada website recommends you use their consent letter.
  • If you don't share parenting of your children with anyone else, bring legal documents that prove you don't need to ask anyone for permission to travel with them on your own. For example:
    • a death certificate (if the other guardian or person with a Divorce Act parenting order is dead),
    • a court order that shows you can travel with your child without asking anyone first, or
    • an agreement that says you can travel with your child without asking anyone first.

You'll also need these documents:

  • when you apply for passports for your children, or
  • any time you need to show you're the only guardian or person with a Divorce Act parenting order (for example, for school trips).

If you don't have any of these documents, get legal help.

Before you travel to another country, check what other documents you'll need.

Ask the embassy or consulate of the country you're travelling to what you'll need and whether your documents need to be notarized. That means a lawyer or notary public watches you sign the letter and then signs it as a witness to your signature.