Yes, I’m scrambling again. 48 hours from departure to Mexico City with Deal Girl and I haven’t even started doing laundry so I can start packing! One detail, however, is crossed and dotted: the single parent travel consent form is completed and on its way to be notarized. I’ve found a couple of tricks to keep handy next time I need a permission slip from Deal Dad to give to the authorities. I’m sharing them with you in this handy cheat sheet.
Why do I even need a consent form? It’s my kid!
I know. However, there have been messy divorces where a non-custodial parent exited the US to avoid returning the child. The US does NOT require this form but the Border Patrol’s website says, ominously:
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if we do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed.
Sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon!
More importantly, many other countries DO require parental consent forms. A few, such as South Africa, go much farther than just the letter. Even when a country isn’t supposed to need a letter, as is the case with Mexico, many cases of it being demanded are reported to the US Embassy each year .
What needs to be in the letter?
US Border Patrol put out a handy list of letter requirements but I found something better. Here’s a letter that already has them filled out! Thanks to SingleParentTravel.net all you have to is print, fill in the details, and get it notarized.
If you are have a situation like sole custody or death of the 2nd parent you may also have to carry a copy of the relevant documents.
Great, but I have a life from 9-5 Monday to Friday. How on Earth am I supposed to get to a notary?
My former go-to for a notary was our local bank. However, those hours definitely didn’t help out when Deal Dad needed to sign the form and Monday was a bank holiday. Fortunately I found an alternative: UPS Stores have a notary on staff and MUCH friendlier hours than a bank. I’d recommend calling before heading out just to verify the notary isn’t home with the flu. Best part? It’s only $5 to get a form notarized. Bye Bye Bank!
In over 10 solo border crossings with the kids I’ve only been questioned about the lack of a 2nd parent once: leaving Canada. At Montreal airport the Border Patrol agent asked me where the kids’ father was. (I offered the letter but she didn’t look at it.) She then asked Deal Kid, “You’re not being kidnapped, are you?” Being 9 and my kid he of course responded “Yes, Ma’am, I am.” Fortunately the female agent looked to be a Mom herself and had a sense of humor!
Have you been asked to produce a consent form? Where were you and were you entering or leaving? Were you prepared? Please share your experience in the comments.
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