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Then read this article carefully to avoid unexpected delays and disappointment.


If you are traveling abroad alone with your children, then you will need to get a letter of permission from the parent not traveling with you. This letter states that the mother/father accompanying the child(ren) has the consent of the other parent.


Even if the children and yourself have the same country passports, you should carry this letter, just to be on the safe side. It is not required by law but is recommended so that you are not delayed, or worse, not allowed to enter the country you are visiting. This is especially true for all entries into the US as they have become very tight recently with their security. 


Julia Thorson recounts a story that she described as a “tragicomedy”:



I was detained once when taking my two daughters to the U.S. without my husband. I kept my maiden name but my daughters have my husband's last name (although both daughters have my last name as their legal middle name). When the customs officer asked my older daughter who I was she at first said nothing (she's shy) and then she said “Julia” (instead of “mommy”) and then they escorted us over to a separate room for further enquiry. I was still breast-feeding my younger daughter and nursed her a little more demonstratively than usual to make a point — but they didn't pick up on that.

Then I had to accompany my older daughter to the toilet. It was an automatic toilet that flushed loudly. When my daughter hopped off the toilet, she was startled by the sound and started crying. And then when we were exiting the WC, she stubbed her toe on the heavy swinging door and started crying again before coming back out, which all must have added to their suspicions (kid crying multiple times behind a closed door...).

They eventually called me up to the desk for further questioning. I pointed out that my daughters have my name as their middle name but they said it would have been possible to forge that. But then they also said I should have the letter from my husband — which also could be forged, of course, much more easily than a passport, but they didn't see this logical inconsistency!

After about an hour or so, we were allowed to leave — causing untold worry to my parents who were outside waiting and wondering where we were. But I was just glad to be free again!


Julia continues, “My Swiss husband did get subjected to questioning another time when traveling alone. He didn't have my parents’ address memorized (you know how you're supposed to give the address where you're staying) and told the passport control person something like “can't you just look it up in the system?” They didn't like that answer very much. And then when they asked about the purpose of the visit — to visit my parents — they asked if he had any gifts and he'd brought something not very impressive, like cornichon pickles or a tube of mustard. That raised red flags too because they thought it was too measly a gift to bring to his in-laws. So that taught him a lesson... now he always brings a proper gift for my parents!”


Julia precises that this story happened at the passport control right after Madeline McCann went missing. She always wondered if they were on heightened alert because of that.


Taken from this website: A Child Travel Consent is a document that shows authorities and foreign officials that a child has permission from parent(s) or guardian(s) to travel. The document may be requested by authorities in the following situations:

  • where a child is traveling with a school, church, and other organization;
  • where a child is traveling internationally with one parent or guardian;
  • where a child is traveling internationally without a parent, alone or with an adult who is not a parent or guardian.

What documents are needed if a child is traveling with one parent and both parents have legal custody? A notarized consent from the non-traveling parent will be required.

What if my child’s last name is different than mine? You should be prepared to prove your relationship to the child by producing government issued certificates (e.g. certificates of birth, marriage, adoption, or change of name).

airplaneporthole2What to do:

The non-traveling person must obtain a letter of permission (for example if the mother is traveling with the children the father must obtain this letter). Bring along the following items:

— Livret de famille or birth certificate of child(ren)
— Passport or ID card for child(ren)
— The person signing the letter must bring their passport or ID
— Fr. 20.-

The child(ren) do not need to accompany you when you obtain this letter. The letter is valid for a 6-month period from issue date (can be less upon request).


If you are divorced or separated the traveling person must also bring the documents justifying the custody of the child(ren).



Police Financière

5, ch. de la Gravière

1227 Acacias (GE)

022 427 80 66

Also available at some Mairies (you will need to find that out at your local town hall).



The Service des mineurs at 022 732 52 11 has told knowitall.ch that most Mairies in Vaud will prepare this letter. If not, then you can write the letter and have it notorized.


Another mother, Heidi, suggested, “I recommend a letter of consent from the other parent, a copy of the child's birth certificate, and a photocopy of the other parent's passport. At the Montreal airport I have always been asked to see the letter of consent (and I have also presented the birth certificate). At Heathrow airport I was interrogated by police because I didn't have a copy of my husband's passport and he had to fax it to the airport (after which the police sprinted with me to my gate to help me catch my flight home)!”


Better be safe than sorry! Happy traveling.