International Travel Consent Letter for Children
Tatiana is leaving for Chile tomorrow to grab a replacement for her expiring Chilean passport. She'll be taking Aidric and her sister along with her, and can't think of a better opportunity to test the effectiveness of the consent letter that I've written up and had notarized.
Tatiana will be crossing the border by land, and carrying two different letters with her, authorizing my consent for Aidric to travel outside the country without my accompaniment. This is a continuation of the problem I posed not long ago (International Travel Consent for the Children of Travelers).
The first authorization letter that we paid for (US$12) was a single-use consent form that explicitly states Chile as the destination (for a round trip journey back to Peru), and expires one month after issuance. A lawyer working in a notary office told us that, for $60-something US dollars, a special power of attorney could be created and filed in public record to allow Tatiana to create an unlimited number of notarized single-use travel consent letters. But this is rather preposterous notion for couples in our situation, and would certainly not do. This process need not be so complicated (or costly).
To test the boundaries of the Peruvian and Chilean immigration policy, I insisted that we draft up a letter of consent that could be presented at any checkpoint, anywhere in the world. This might be the first time Tatiana traveled to Chile with Aidric (and without me), but certainly wouldn't be the last (and I certainly wasn't always going to be available to authorize my consent at a Peruvian notary). The other would be her backup.
I wrote up the consent letter from scratch, and let Tatiana loose to translate it into Spanish.
At the notary, we had to push and shove them a little bit to process our request, but frankly, it's none of their business what the document says—they're non-repudiable signature witnesses and validaters of identity—it's not their job to approve of what we're trying to do. It's a pain in the ass when your notary is a lawyer, too.
It cost US$5 to get the document notarized, and looks to be worth every penny. I love how Peruvian notaries put stamps all over the place, require a fingerprint, and even emboss the paper with a raised stamp. It doesn't get any more authentic looking than this, folks.
If this works for Tatiana's trip, I'll have a matching document created for me to travel with Aidric, and this will be one less thing to worry about in the future.
Update, February 27
Tatiana and company arrived safely in Arica this afternoon, but not without a particularly unpleasant experience with Peruvian immigration. Briefly chatting with her tonight before she went to bed, I got the gist of the story, which went something like this:
Somewhere between the bus station and the border, Tatiana (wisely) stopped off to get a photocopy made of the custom consent letter (in the event that they need to retain a copy).
At Peruvian immigration, Tatiana was asked to display the letter of my consent, and when she handed over the custom copy, the guard was rather dumbfounded at the document, and passed her along to another official.
Guard number two initially thought it was looking at a Power of Attorney, which Tatiana corrected him on. Ultimately, both guards claimed that the letter wasn't acceptable because it wasn't in the standard template.
As she's explaining the unique nature of the letter to the immigration officials, a crowd around here is gathering (likely the queue she's holding up). Knowing Tatiana, and given the way she described the rest of the story, things undoubtedly escalated quickly at that point.
"So I had to explain with everybody around watching that these guys have that dumb-ass job because their tiny brains cannot comprehend things that do not come in a template. Everybody agreed with me and laughed at the guy. He was pissed."
"Then he started to sort of threaten me by saying that 'he had his badge and he could do I don't know what or just not allow me to leave the country'…"
"I told him he'd better not mess with me, 'cause he doesn't know who he's talking to."
…It's at this point in her story that I'm on the verge of laughing, because I just love what happens when a Latin woman gets angry—so long as it's not me standing in front of her.
At some point before the yelling, the guard wanted Tatiana go back to Tacna (the Peruvian border town down there) and "ask a judge if it was OK." Later, he demanded that she leave the original copy of the document with him, which she also refused to do.
Finally, she tossed the official single-use form she was carrying as a backup at the guy and walked off.
"These idiots can't think. If they see something they haven't seen before they freak out; unable to read and comprehend written language that does not come on a template. …Limited functions of tiny, undeveloped brains—pretty Egyptian."
I asked Tatiana what she'd like to do for future use. From her story it sounded like she could've eventually just left the original letter there, and gotten stamped out. Knowing this, I find myself thinking about just how many custom $5 consent letters we could have notarized to equal the cost of a Power of Attorney ($60+), plus another single-use form ($12).
Tatiana tells me that the guy had a stack of single-use consent forms he'd collected, so apparently it's standard operating procedure to release the document upon departure from the country. But not accepting her photocopy was an annoying twist. I guess leaving Chile with Aidric won't be a problem.
I'm thinking we'll pay to have one or two more notarized here in Lima, and then do a bunch for free in the United States. Wow, I love Peru.