All about consent for minors

This blog post is about the Consent for an Access to Information and Personal Information Request from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) or Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

Background

Since March 2018 IRCC has made it mandatory to provide consent of both parents for information about a minor child. Previously, only the consent of one parent of a minor child was required, but increasing concerns about illegal immigration, child abduction and abuse, and identity fraud prompted the ATIP Division to review and reconsider its consent policy for ATIP requests for information about a minor child.

The process now requires a requester to include consent from both parents of the child, or they must provide proof that there is only one custodian. This change to the consent form safeguards the disclosure of a minor’s information to a party that should not have access.

The requirement for dual signatures was introduced to ensure that the release of information contained in records does not compromise the safety of the minor and other parties that may be present. This policy also applies to the CBSA consent form.

Who is a minor?

In Canada, the definition of a minor child varies according to province. For example in Ontario the following definitions apply;

Definition of minor child – Person under 18 years

Definition of minor for child protection purposes – “child” means a person under the age of 16

Minor according to IRCC vs CBSA

For Access to Information and Personal Information Requests IRCC considers a minor to be someone under the age of 16. CBSA on the other hand (at the time of this writing) considers a minor to be someone under the age of 18. As a result an applicant 16 and over must personally sign the IRCC consent form. On the other hand an applicant 18 and over can personally sign the CBSA consent form.

This inconsistency between IRCC and CBSA consent policy has been identified to CBSA since May 2021.

[Update] In August 2022, CBSA agreed to modify its ATIP consent policy based on a complaint submitted by GcmsNotes.com to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC). Over the course of the investigation, the CBSA clarified its consent policy with the OIC. It also reviewed and responded to the complainant’s request, acknowledging that an administrative oversight had occurred. In doing so, it took corrective action, reconfirmed its policy on consent for minors, and agreed to better inform requestors of its consent policy moving forward. As a result of the complaint by GcmsNotes.com, CBSA now considers an individual to be a minor if they are under the age of 16 (which is now consistent with IRCC’s position). The only exception is where requests for travel history, or where the records responsive to the request include travel information – the age of majority is set at 18.

Signature requirements for a minor

Information about minors can only be released with the consent of both biological parents. Should a child be under the custody of a single parent or a third party, a valid copy of the custody agreement/ adoption documents is required. A proof of death is required if a parent is deceased.

If the custody agreement is not a Canadian court document, the document must be notarized in Canada. An affidavit is not a court order. Also, consent that authorizes minors to travel is not a valid document to obtain information about minors.

Additional information may also be requested by IRCC or CBSA and to avoid potential processing delays this information can be submitted upfront;

  • A copy of the minor’s birth certificate in English or French. If the birth certificate is in another language, please also provide a certified translation
  • Signed government issued photo identification from both parents, to confirm the names and signatures.

Minors are not required to sign the consent form. Instead, any one parent needs to sign (i.e., a parent’s signature) in the child’s section. Both parents need to complete and sign their respective sections as well. It’s also acceptable to submit separate forms from each parent, listing the minor’s information on each form.

Thank you for reading!
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