Do you know what documents you need to travel out of the country with? Other than a passport that is valid for the next 6 months? Most people don’t. Being prepared can ease a lot of the stress one can potentially face at airports and border crossings. Some of this I have learned the hard way, some is just common sense. I have never regretted bringing a couple of file folders with me with potentially relevant documents.
Even when my ex and I were still married, if one of us travelled with the kids without the other parent, we made sure that the non-travelling partner took with a letter of permission to prove that the other parent is aware of where the children are and with whom. Now that we are divorced and I have custody, I still make sure every time I leave the country with the kids I get a letter from him. Most times they do not ask to see it, but they have asked a few times. You must always ensure that there is a contact phone number just in case. If you are travelling with children, and you are divorced, it is a good idea also to bring with a copy of your judgment of divorce that specifies custody. I have been asked to show it a time or two.
Because I have started the immigration process, I travel with copies of all the relevant forms. Just to back myself up if they want proof.
I bring my recent utility bills – it proves that I maintain a residence in Canada, and therefore probably do not pose a risk of staying in the destination country longer than my brief planned visit. I have had to show these at the border crossing a couple of months back. A recent pay stub is good too, along with a mortgage statement or a copy of a rent receipt.
If you are driving, you need your license and registration, and if it is NOT your car, you need a letter of permission from the owner of the car along with the registration for the car. The letter should state the license plate number, until when you have permission to drive it, and provide a contact number.
I remember once flying through the USA to get somewhere, and not having a ticket back into Canada as I had a friend that was going to drive me upon my return. At the airport in NY they gave me a hard time because I could not prove I had plans to return to Canada. A return ticket helps avoid that hassle.
If you are entering a foreign country for a conference or for a work purpose, you must be prepared to show proof. They have every right to quiz you on why you want to come into their country.
I also shlepp birth certificates (the long ones, that prove I am my kids mom), and my marriage certificate – I have nothing in my married name yet. In Quebec one doesn’t adopt one’s husband’s last name legally, and I have yet to be official in the States, so if for some reason I have to prove I am who I say I am, well, I have the marriage certificate to prove it.
Is there anything I have left out? What documents do you travel with “just in case”?