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Jeanne M. Hannah


No U.S. law requires written and notarized letters of permission to travel across international borders. However, the U.S. State Department has been working diligently to prevent abduction across international borders. As a result, many countries require such documentation to be presented when children are crossing international borders.

Because of our common borders with Canada and Mexico, this additional paperwork is required for international travel with minors to both of those countries. Travel agents confirm that other countries as well demand such documents. Christopher Lamora, a spokesman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State advises families: "Contact the embassy of your destination country or study the Consular Information Sheets provided at to find out what that country’s requirements will be in terms of documentation, in order to bring a child into the country.”

In fact, the Consular Information Sheets issued by the U. S. State Dept., which does not make these regulations, now carry this routine warning: "In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure." See this page on the State Department's website:

The slight inconvenience involved in getting the permission letter and having it notarized is small compared to traveling a good distance, with firm travel plans and reservations, only to be turned away for lack of the proper document.

It is also recommended that any parent who has a different surname than their child also carry a photocopy of the child's birth certificate while traveling, providing legal evidence of "guardianship" in case of trouble.

Canadian customs officers, who are the primary line of inspection for visitors, may require a notarized statement from both parents when they find a child under 18 traveling alone or with other adults. All carriers, including air, sea and land, can be fined for bringing people into Canada without the proper documentation.” A consular officer at the U.S. Office of Children's Issues ( 202/312-9700) has verified that many countries require a Permission to Travel letter, and reiterated that parents’ notarized signatures plus identification for the child (certified birth certificate or passport), were both essential.


I read your post and was curious if you have a citation for a US law requiring it? Statute? Court? Or anything like that?


cera darling

The letter of Travel should have been in effect long ago but better late then never. Parental abduction is a horrendous crime her in the USA. Putting our countries children first should be our first priority.


Perfect timing! I was just debating whether we should wait an extra six months to travel overseas. The answer is YES! To avoid all this hassle, we will just wait for the big 18th birthday.

Thanks so much for all your writings. You have been a wonderful resource for me throughout the last several years.

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