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Do I need my husband's permission to take my kids out of country?

When traveling to Canada, I was asked if I had my husband's permission to take my 3 year old daughter out of the country by immigration. My husband was farther back in line, but there, so they let me through.

I am traveling with my 4 kids to Europe this summer. My husband won't be flying with us. Do I need documentation of his permission? We are traveling from Los Angeles to London then onto Amsterdam. Thanks.

Posted by
710 posts

I saw this on a web site... 9/11 and people trying to abduct children made it necessary. It is only protecting your rights, your huband's right, and your kids .

"A passport is not enough. Due to post 9/11 "Homeland Security measures", if you are traveling with a minor child to an international destination, you must have the child's passport, AND a notarized consent from the noncustodial parent, authorizing the international travel. The consent form should state the anticipated dates of travel and the destination."

Hopefully someone here will tell you if even more is required now.

Posted by
11450 posts

My husband and I both travel with our kids seperately( we are married, we just like one on one time with kids) , and each time we do , we take a notarized letter giving permission from non present parent.
My kids are all over 11, so we have never been stopped or even asked, but, I imagine with a young child( like a 3 yr old) they would be more likely to stop you as who would want to kidnap a 14 yr old( LOL, sorry , bad joke, but teenagers are just plain eveil sometimes, LOL )
A notarized letter is easy to get.

Posted by
658 posts

Provided that each child has his/her own passport we would not require any further documentation to fly you from London to Amsterdam

Posted by
809 posts

Teenaged daughter and I have made a number of trips without my husband; we have always carried notarized letters from him but have only been asked for it once. That was coming back into the US from a cruise out of Los Angeles down into Mexico. I keep wondering - if we hadn't had the letter, would they have refused to let her back in? I thought the point was to keep me from abducting her... Very puzzling. I've seen a sample letter somewhere on the Helpline, so you may want to use the search box in upper right corner. Good luck and have fun on your trip!

Posted by
11973 posts

When we travel, if only one parent is crossing a border with the kids we have a notarized permission slip from the other (and a copy of the other's passport). If the Grandparents take the kids, we add permission to get medical care (and copies of both passports).

Cases of noncustodial parents essentially kidnapping their kids by taking them out of country are becoming more common. Although we haven't been asked for our permission slip, I wouldn't want to try crossing a border without proof that it's okay.

Posted by
95 posts

I travel alone with the kids because hubby hates to travel. A friend at the state department told me to always have a notarized letter before I leave the country. I've never been asked for it, but if I always have it.

Posted by
48 posts

Up to what age should you carry a non-custodial parent's permission? I will be traveling with my 17 almost 18 year old daughter.

Posted by
990 posts

Actually, it doesn't really matter whether the other parent is non-custodial or custodial--whenever one adult crosses a border with a minor, you can be asked for proof of relationship and proof that the other parent or guardian assents to the trip. You won't always be asked, but you could be. So the notarized letter is a very good thing to have, if you don't want to be held up at a border for hours while they try to contact the other parent to confirm that everything is okay.

A friend of mine is widowed with two kids, and she took to carrying her husband's death certificate with her to forestall this issue. Ghoulish, but necessary.

Posted by
10 posts

I am a lawyer that does family law and yes you do need his permission and documentation of it. A few years ago they changed the rules where you cannot get a passport for a child under 16 without the other persons permission and if one parent owes the other more than 2500 in some states and 5000 in other that person who owes child support to a state agency can have their passport revoked or suspened.

Posted by
9363 posts

Kathy, what if there is no father? I know someone (unmarried) who had a baby via an anonymous donor. (Her son is now 14, and has had a passport since he was three.) What happens if my friend is questioned about the boy's father's permission in that case? They have traveled out of the US several times over the years and have never been asked, but....

Posted by
552 posts

This is the most compelling topic I've ever run across in this forum.

Checking for permission? On the way back INTO the country??

Do they ask husbands if they have their wife's permission?

I'm a guy and I don't have children, but my first reaction to this line of inquiry would be a terse, bold-faced -- get your presumptuous, rule-quoting behind out of my face! implying -- Lie.

Something like, "My husband recently died after a painful battle with bone-marrow Cancer."

Posted by
11973 posts

The absolute right answer is to check each country you will be visiting to see what their rules are. Visit their website to find the requirement. There is an international crackdown on non-custodial parents/others who kidnap children by crossing borders with them so children not traveling with both parents generally creates some interest.

My wife, mother and in-laws have taken our kids across borders. We always sent them with notarized permission and a power of attorney to get medical care and never had any problems.

Posted by
1 posts

My ex-husband, though he has not seen the children in 3 years due to a court order, has stated that he will never sign any documents allowing the children to travel outside of the country. This is ironic because he is over $5000 in arrears and living overseas in another country.
Two questions here...
1. Is the court order forbidding contact and visitation between the father children enough for me to be able to get them a passport?
2. The fact that he owes so much in arrears and is out of the country, long term, with a passport, can it be revoked or suspended?

Posted by
21855 posts

Those are questions for a good family law attorney and not a travel board. Everyone can have an opinion bit is only an opinion.

Posted by
52 posts

I will 2nd a good lawyer is needed for this!

Let me tell you what I have experianced and witnessed from both an aunt who has traveled outside of the country with my nieces, nephews and cousins with out their parents, an aunt who has a nephew whose mother is not in the picture, as a travel agent who is asked this question often, and someone who has wittness what can and will happen if you get that one immigration worker who pushes for the paper work.

First as an aunt: I don't take them out of the country with out the signed form from the parents. Never been asked for it, but I am ready. As for the nephew with out the mother. This is where a good family lawyer comes into play. We went in front a judge with our trip papers, showed where the mother hadn't seen my nephew in 3 years and he signed court papers giving me permission to take him out of the country with out her permission.

As a TA I am constanly being asked this:
The last time I checked the U.S. does NOT have a law about taking kids outside the U.S. BUT other countries have laws about one parent bring children into their countries. So check with each country you will be visiting. You can do this by going to each countries embassy website.

Now let me tell you what I wittnessed:
While waiting to board the Celebrity Summit in San Juan last year. I watched as a family was told they could not board the ship, as the 17 year old daughter did not have a signed formed from her father to leave the country. The grandparents had already boarded the ship. I stepped through security and let them know what was going on. The grandfather went back out to find out what was going on. The whole family was in tears. Thankfully the ship let the family use their fax machine and the mother was on good terms with the father. Immigration agreed to take a faxed notarized form giving her permission to leave the country with the daughter and they were allowed to board the ship.

Get the form!!

Posted by
6017 posts

In response to Bill, yes they would ask a Father as well as a Mother, the issue is the same, and yes, between people not being aware of the requirement and a multitude of reasons why there is only one parent (Divorce, Abandonment, Unmarried single Parent, Adoptive single parent, death); it can be awkward.

In the case of abandonment, loss of contact, or a hostile parent; you would need to work with a lawyer to get essentially a judgement or statement declaring that you have the right to travel with your kids. Probably a similar document, adoption paperwork, or a birth certificate with only the mothers name would work in the case of a single parent.

Though unclear as to why, you would be more likely to get asked at a land crossing to Canada or Mexico than on a European flight (perhaps because there would be more documentation of your travel?).

Posted by
1126 posts


Having said that, here is the letter we've twice taken with us to cover situations when only one parent was with our daughter:

Travel Letter

I, ___________, understand and acknowledge that my daughter, ____, will be traveling to the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, and possibly other locations in Europe with her father, ______. She will be traveling in the months of June and July, 2009. She is taking this trip with her father with my consent and permission.

If the reader of this letter has any questions, I may be reached at (__) _-___ (cell/mobile).

Signed: ________________________________
[Name and Address]

Sworn to and subscribed before me, the undersigned Notary Public, in the County of _, State of _, on this the _____ day of June, 2009.

Notary Public


No one has ever asked to see it . . . so far.

Posted by
2297 posts

I have never taken a letter signed by my husband along. Out of lazyness. And I've been lucky that nobody ever asked for one.

But this was pure luck. I've seen another case where the mother took her kids in good faith with every intend to meet up with her husband to visit her family and end ended up being arrested for kidnapping and didn't see her 3 kids (the youngest 6 months old and still breastfed) for months. It's been 2 years since then and that kidnapping charge is still following her everywhere she goes ...

In a less dramatic case the mother was simply detained at the airport (London Heathrow) for some time to explain herself. Nothing else happened but it was stressful nevertheless.

After all is said and done in all likelyhood absolutely nothing will happen to you if you travel without extra documentation. But if you do get asked for some it can become a nightmare.

Posted by
190 posts

As a US passport acceptance agent, who sends your applications to the State department and who was trained by the State Department's passport officials, I can tell you that it is impossible for a passport to be issued for a minor without both parents' permission and both parents' presence when submitting the application. There are a few explicit exceptions to this with guidelines set down by the State Department.

I would suggest that you access the State Department's official passport/travel website at or call your local passport acceptance agency listed on that website.

Since minors' passports are valid only for 5 years, all minors' passports should have been issued after these laws were passed and should be sufficient by themselves for international travel with a parent. Traveling with an adult other than a parent is another issue. However, you should check with the State Department to avoid any misunderstanding.

Posted by
990 posts

Interesting information, Jo. That may explain why folks have noted that it is more likely that you will be asked about permission when crossing into Canada or Mexico fromthe US--places where a passport has not been needed traditionally.

Posted by
351 posts

I have taken each of my kids to Europe the summer they were 11 years old. I have never been asked such a question at any border crossing in any country, much less upon return the the US. It would be awful to be stopped, and annoying to worry about it, so if you are worried, it's easy enough to get a letter notarized.

Posted by
1 posts

I have a 10 yr old son who will be traveling with myself, my husband of 2 yrs, my mother and sister to Turkey. I was told months ago that if I can get his passport without his father's permission then I am good to take him without any letter. I have primary custodial status and major decision making power which is noted in the parenting plan, which I had to send with the passport application. I received his passport and so wasn't worried. Now I have been hearing from people I should still get his father's permission with a notarized letter. I know he won't give his permission just out of spite as he has told me this. He would never worry I would keep his son from him, he is just so angry over child support and the parenting plan that was modified last year by a judge that he won't be nice about anything. I guess I just have to go assuming and hoping that I won't be asked for anything.

Posted by
11446 posts

We're not legal's best to consult the Turkish consulate and/or an attorney.