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One parent travel in Austria/France/UK: doc needed?

One parent travel in Austria/France/UK: doc needed?

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Old May 15, 13, 2:26 pm
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One parent travel in Austria/France/UK: doc needed?

Hello all,
I'm taking the kids solo and am wondering if I need a notarized letter from their Dad (like I took to Canada). Anyone have any experience being stopped for only having one parent with the kids? TIA!
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Old May 15, 13, 2:37 pm
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Back in the 80's, my mother took my sister to Acapulco without a letter. They made it to Dallas before they were stopped and asked for the letter. We had been to my relatives in Canada many times without a letter prior to this, so it was something new to my family.

The airline finally relented and called my Dad. He described my sister, the clothes that she was wearing and the expression on her face. They finally let her through.

Now, for my nieces and nephew, we always have one. Most of the time, my sister has not been asked for the letter, but her kids are now older (1 tween, 2 teenagers). She figures that it is better to be safe than sorry.
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Old May 15, 13, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by The Deal Mommy View Post
Hello all,
I'm taking the kids solo and am wondering if I need a notarized letter from their Dad (like I took to Canada). Anyone have any experience being stopped for only having one parent with the kids? TIA!
My family travels very frequently non-stop between the US and France or the UK, and most of the family travel involves only one custodial parent being on the trip with the minor children. My and my relatives' admission to or departure from the mentioned EU countries on US passports with own children isn't conditioned upon the presentation of notarized letter from the non-traveling custodial parents. UKBA and EU Schengen passport control have never given us a stink on entry or exit (where physical exit passport controls exist) over any letters for such travels.

US CBP at US POEs sometimes try to make some sort of "catch" issue of such travel -- mostly for some US citizens and done mostly in sexist and racist ways -- but no such letter is required generally for presentation at a US POE.

Unless traveling to Canada (and previously Mexico), such a letter was rarely if ever needed for my rather well-traveled family. Usually there is no harm in having such a letter, so get one if it provides you peace of mind. That said, sometimes coming across as "too prepared" for having such a letter does create problems, more so if the letter is out of date or seems irrelevant to the current trip.
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Old May 16, 13, 3:14 am
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Don't just write up a letter for the sake of it. You won't have any "peace of mind" if it doesn't meet the country's requirements.

Only a few countries require these letters and the few that do, are very picky about what they want it to be and say. Chile, Canada and Mexico come to mind (is Mexico off the list??) Get the latest information. How current should the date be? Should it be notarized? Which language does it have to be in?? Don't write up any letter before getting the facts!

France knows that U.S. passport holders need both parents' signatures so they honor that. No letter (in addition to the permission given when the passport was applied for) needed. I travel in and out of France and Germany and have never been asked for a letter, even before I became a French citizen. I've also taken my children to the U.K. alone twice without problems.

Hopefully, there will be fewer and fewer countries requiring this, since is does absolutely nothing to prevent international abductions.
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Old May 16, 13, 6:15 am
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Mexico has at least temporarily halted some such practice of requiring a specialized notarized letter.
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Old May 23, 13, 3:19 pm
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Thanks for the info! I thought it was strange even in Canada. I offered it, but the Immigration agent just turned to my 8 year old son and asked him "you're not being kidnapped are you?" to which he replied, "yes, I'm being kidnapped."

Fortunately, she got that he was joking, but he and I had a LOOOONG talk about not telling jokes in an airport!
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Old May 25, 13, 3:35 pm
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I've never been asked for documentation traveling alone with my son in Austria and France. We are both US citizens. But coming home once when he was 3 the immigration agent asked him if he was [passport name]. No, he replied, I'm Ben (a character in a book we'd been reading). Had an uncomfortable few minutes.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 2:25 am
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Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
Don't just write up a letter for the sake of it. You won't have any "peace of mind" if it doesn't meet the country's requirements.

Only a few countries require these letters and the few that do, are very picky about what they want it to be and say. Chile, Canada and Mexico come to mind (is Mexico off the list??) Get the latest information. How current should the date be? Should it be notarized? Which language does it have to be in?? Don't write up any letter before getting the facts!

France knows that U.S. passport holders need both parents' signatures so they honor that. No letter (in addition to the permission given when the passport was applied for) needed. I travel in and out of France and Germany and have never been asked for a letter, even before I became a French citizen. I've also taken my children to the U.K. alone twice without problems.

Hopefully, there will be fewer and fewer countries requiring this, since is does absolutely nothing to prevent international abductions.
This hasnt been my experience - I've carried a letter to Canada, and been asked for the letter to Canada, but they were not picky about it. It wasn't even notarized. I may have saw some gears turning in the guys head about whether or not to GET picky, but in the end, he let us through after only 30 seconds of thinking about it.

In my experience, it is far far better to be safe than sorry. Typing up a simple letter (by the other parent saying how long the trip is for, what the trip is for, the dates, the names and birthdays of the kids, the destination address and the full awareness of these plans, etc etc) and getting the other parent to sign it takes 5-10 mins. Getting it notarized is even better, but in some places (germany, ahem), its a hassle so better SOMETHING than nothing.

For your last statement, I sorta agree. Its a good idea in principle but I wish they would think more smartly about how they are doing this. Canada is ... backwards - checking only kids that COME into the country, not kids that are being taken out. They are relying on other countries to be doing the same, but none of them do. I am not sure why - it would be a matter of a simple question to single parents coming through the US, Germany, etc.
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Old Jul 12, 13, 2:41 pm
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I fly alone with three kids in and out of Germany a lot, and have never been asked for a letter. I did get scolded for arriving in Germany without my French passport but that was another story (would have gotten away with it if I hadn't been flying with three French children lol!)

I actually never needed a letter for any country but I've never gone to Canada with them (over it, but not too).

Most countries don't need them and those that do, are very specific about what they want. I think you got lucky. I wouldn't chance it with Canada. I bet Canada is sick of dealing with American abduction cases so that's why they're checking arriving solo parents.

Interestingly, I don't need it for France but they once ran a check on me. I didn't even realize it. I rarely fly out of CDG and they announced "You are allowed out of the territory". Ahem? "...With the children. You're not on the list..." oh thanks?

No letter will stop a parent from simply not coming home from a visit to the home country.

I just want fellow solo traveling parents to check the specific country where they are headed and not just write up any old general letter thinking that they have it covered, only to have it not accepted.
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