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Do I need my ex’s permission to take my children on vacation outside of Canada?

Woman with child at airport

Originally Published: June, 2019

Updated: May, 2023

“I’m divorced and looking to take my children on vacation outside of Canada, do I need my ex’s permission?”

Divorce can create challenging situations, not only at the time of separation but also in the years ahead. These situations can become even more complicated when the divorce involves children. If you’re considering traveling out of the country with your children, here are some things you need to know.

International Travel

First of all, traveling internationally with your children may vary depending on the jurisdiction and your specific circumstances. It’s important to consult with a legal professional to get the best, most tailored advice based on your situation.

You May Be Asked To Provide Proof

Regardless of your divorce arrangement, you could be asked to prove that you’re allowed to take your children out of Canada if:

  • You’re travelling without their other parent; or
  • You’re their only parent

If you and your ex-spouse have agreed to child decision-making responsibility, there may be further steps you need to take before you can take them out of Canada. Every divorce and arrangement is different.

Here’s what you need to know to legally take your child on vacation and help to avoid any issues at entry or exit at the border.

Check Your Decision-Making Responsibility Agreement

At the time of your divorce, you and your ex may have agreed on custodial rights. If you share decision-making responsibility (formerly custody), you each have a right to oppose significant decisions, such as exiting the country.

Check your decision-making agreement or parenting plan; it may expressly oppose international travel unless both parents provide consent to the arrangement. You may also be required to gather written permission from the other parent, and provide them with flight details and contact numbers. There is often a stipulated notice period. Be aware of any specific provisions related to international travel.

Take Your Separation Agreement or Court Order With You

Even if you have sole decision-making responsibility, you may still be required to show that you have the permission of your ex-spouse to travel with your child. You may have a separation agreement or court order that states you don’t need your ex’s permission. It’s essential to take a copy of those documents with you on your trip to prove you don’t require your ex’s approval.

Get a Travel Consent Letter From Your Ex

The consent letter states that the children have permission to travel abroad from any parent or guardian who is not accompanying them on the trip.   This letter is typically notarized by a lawyer who attests to the fact that the person who is giving the consent is the person signing the letter.

The Canadian Government says while the consent letter is not mandatory, it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, airline agents or Canadian officials when leaving or returning. Failure to produce the consent letter may result in delays or refusal to enter or exit a country.

A travel consent letter contains details about the trip, both parents’ contact information, and consent. It’s recommended that even a parent, even one with sole custody, get a consent letter from the other parent. Sample consent letters can be found here.

It’s essential to maintain open and clear communication with your ex regarding your travel plans. Provide them with detailed information about the trip such as dates, destinations, accommodations, and contact information.

Return and Contact Arrangements

Confirm with your ex-spouse what the mode of contact between them and the children will be during the vacation. Plan arrangements for regular updates to maintain the other parent’s involvement and ease any concerns they may have. Be sure to make clear arrangements for the return, including the date and time, and the arrangement for them to see the children when you are back in the country.

Get Professional Advice

If you’re in the middle of creating a separation agreement or need a court order, it’s essential to get help from a qualified family law lawyer.

We have family lawyers who are knowledgeable and experienced with drafting the necessary documents that allow you to travel outside of Canada with your children legally.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation.



This blog is made available by the law firm publisher, Epstein & Associates, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. Any specific questions about your legal concerns please contact us now and speak to an expert today.