I have friends and clients who are divorced and no matter how far out they are from their divorce, it seems as though they relive it every time they travel. Why? In order to travel out of the country with their children, they need to bring a permission to travel letter with them from the non-custodial parent and they usually bring a copy of their divorce decree, even if it was an uncontested divorce. Recently, a friend went on a cruise with us and encountered this situation with Royal Caribbean and said, “What if my husband was dead? Would I need a copy of his death certificate?” Although she was frustrated, the truth is that for her to travel without a problem, I have would definitely recommended that she carry that with her as well if he were in fact dead.
Why all the fuss? It’s quite simple. To reduce the number of international child abductions that occur involving parents as well as strangers, travel suppliers, in an effort to follow the Hague Convention, have been asking for permission to travel letters. Many parents get these letters notarized, a simple process to ensure the safety of your children as well as an uninterrupted trip for you. Make several copies of the travel letter and get it notarized all at once and then bring two copies with you each time you travel in case an authority needs to retain a copy.
How often will you be asked for this letter or your divorce decree? Depends. The airlines will most likely ask you for this information prior to boarding, but cruise lines may or may not. Would you want to risk your vacation on the chance that someone may ask you for it that one time?
There is a great article here that includes a link on page three with sample permission letters. Consider purchasing a special document folder that is used expressly for this purpose that you keep in a special place and can grab and go whenever you travel. If you are tech savvy, you can do one better. Send a copy to your email address and have it on your smartphone in case you need a copy and can’t find it while traveling. You can put a copy on your laptop, Kindle, or iPad as well. The copies on your smartphone or laptop won’t take the place of a notarized paper copy, but you will always have a copy stored somewhere other than your folder. You should also provide a copy to someone whom you can call in case you need it faxed or sent via FedEx. Plan ahead with your paperwork to reduce the stress come the day you leave for vacation.
If you have any suggestions that you can add, please do!