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Permission for 1 parent to fly w/kid

Japan With Kids - Forums: Traveling to/from and in Japan: Permission for 1 parent to fly w/kid
By Shannon Morales on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 - 7:58 pm:

I'll be traveling to the States w/my 6-mo old solo (ahead of my husband) next week. Can anyone tell me if it's necessary to have a letter of consent to take the baby out of the country w/o dad along? I've heard something about this but don't know under what circumstances it is required. I'm American, he's Peruvian, the baby has dual citizenship and Jpns alien registration. Any info (including whether such a letter would have to be notarized, etc.) would be appreciated -- and SOON! Thanks!

By Caroline on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 - 9:39 pm:

Dear Shannon:

It seems unlikely to me that you need a letter of any kind to travel with your child as long as you have valid papers and re-entry visas. Does your child have his own passport or is he on your own passport? My sister and I have been traveling with our kids on our own for years and never had any trouble of any kind. I did have one bad experience though: I was asked if the child was mine because we have different last names. Luckily I had my "married" name (husband's surname) added to my passport on a separate page and showed that as proof. It might be wise to check with the US embassy if you still have doubts. Good luck!

By Karen on Wednesday, June 26, 2002 - 11:36 pm:

Hi Shannon,

The Canadian Embassy recommended that I take a letter of permission when I flew with my son. I'm glad that I took the advice because I was asked for it at Customs BOTH times when I arrived in Canada.

The letter I had my husband sign said that he was aware that I was flying with the baby and listed his contact information (don't forget this part) and the flight numbers that we would be on. It did the trick.

I think that I ran into trouble because my son and I have different last names. I kept my maiden name (well, I didn't exactly 'keep' it, I just never gave it up!). Plus, there's nothing in my passport mentioning my husband's name. So it must have raised a red flag to them.. Or maybe I just look really suspicious!

In any case, just jot out a note, have hubby sign it, stuff it in your passport and don't think about it!

Hope this helps,


By Shannon Morales on Thursday, June 27, 2002 - 10:07 pm:

Thanks! I'll just whip up a simple note then just in case and have him sign it. Better safe than sorry....

By Laurel Seacord on Friday, June 28, 2002 - 9:31 am:

I have never been challenged when travelling with my son. I am a single mother, however, and it would certainly be within the realm of legal possibility to be suspected of 'kidnapping' my child by taking him out of the US without his father's consent.
I always carry a copy of the court order giving me 100% custody when I travel between countries with him.

By Martin Pfohl on Saturday, October 11, 2003 - 1:34 pm:

Hello all,

I am travelling alone with my 4 yo. son to Japan from US next month. We will stay 3 weeks and return.
I know our US INS can be pretty full of it sometimes so I just want to be sure I have all the bases covered when it comes to taking him out of the US.I am a divorced dad and have partial custody of my son. I am aware that a letter of consent from her is necessary, however, I would like to know if anyone has some advice about exactly what to include in the information, and anything else I may need to know about it...
Is the Jp. immagration much of a problem for this, and do i need a translated letter?
Thanks in advance everyone!

By Karen on Saturday, October 11, 2003 - 2:12 pm:

Good thinking to plan ahead! I don't know about how strict Japanese customs is. I've only ever been asked for a letter from Canadian customs (see my post above). Here's some information on solo parent travelling for Americans though:

They include a sample letter to bring:

I never bother having it notarized; it's not worth my time or money. I just make sure to include all contact details of my husband (work/home/mobile phone numbers). Should do the trick--hopefully!

Enjoy your trip!!


By Cornelia on Saturday, October 11, 2003 - 3:19 pm:

I think Canada is more consistant than the USA. I am from the USA, a single mother and take my daughter back and forth to various destinations 2 -3 times per year. Recently I have started using Air Canada because they have the best one year ticket to Japan available at the moment. So our first port of arrival on the American continent is Vancouver (twice now). It is also our first stop on the way back to Japan.

Here's my experience. I have never once been even asked by the USA immigration folks if I have sole custody or anything at all. (Now maybe if I were a man this would be different, I don't know.) Heck, there is no immigration procedure when you depart the USA, only upon entry! Only the airline makes a point of checking if I have the necessary documents for my destination country.

I have never been questioned in Philippines nor Indonesia.

ONLY Canada has asked me the question: do you have sole custody of this child?

Very fortunately, another friend of mine told me her story upon entering Canada. The question posed was a very direct "Where's the father?" Since she had no idea what the thinking was behind the question, after about 17 hours of traveling, she answered the wrong way (something along the lines "I imagine he's at work") and was detained for 4 hours in a back room with her 5 year old son.

Fortunately my Canadian immigration employee asked the question in a manner which made it pretty clear what the thinking was behind the question, and I had due warning, so I answered very politely and very seriously. I've never been asked yet to show a letter as proof.

As for Japanese immigration, zero problems. Of course in my case when the two passports are side-by-side my daughter's visa is a "dependent's visa" which might stop such a question from being asked.

I am willing to bet you could get away without the letter alltogether if you are flying directly to Japan and back again; however, just in case there is any possibility at all for a misunderstanding betweeen the mother and yourself, the letter would be good insurance!

By Martin Pfohl on Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 4:45 am:

As for the issue of having the letter of perental consent, it is something any single parent should consider when travelling with thier child alone.
Recently i returned to the US from a trip to Yamanashi with my 4 year old son. I had no problem at all getting through Japanese immagration and nothing was asked of us. In returning to the US, I was asked only 2 simple questions. A.) Where is his mother? B.) Does she know he is with me? And I never even had to show the consent form.
But it was a safe feeling just to have it anyway. I copied the form from the link in this discussion and had it notarized for free at my local bank. At least, in my area many places do it complementarily.
Perhaps if my son has a different last name from me [Or vise versa] there are more raised eyebrows going through immagration. In this case, bringing the consent form will be a definite 'Yes' [Hai!]...
I highly reccomend it!
Everyone Take care!

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