What is a Consent Form?

Stephen Porritt
Stephen Porritt

As kids, we all learned how to get permission to do things (some of us more than others). Once we became adults, we may have thought that was the end of it. But it turns out “getting permission” is still a thing that grownups do, and there are some very important legal reasons for it.

Certain activities, like medical procedures and research trials, require “getting permission” first, usually by having the individual sign some type of consent form. The type of consent form will vary based on the activity in question and whether the permission is for a minor, but each is important for protecting the rights of the parties involved.

Informed Consent Forms

All medical procedures—and a good number of research trials—come with risks. In most cases, before a patient or participant can be involved in either, there needs to be proof that the individual was made aware of those risks, and agreed to having their person fiddled with in potentially harmful ways (no matter how small that potential).

Enter the Informed Consent Form. This type of form allows a patient to review the risks and declare their willingness to permit medical professionals to perform a medical procedure. It can also be used for participants in a research trial to give consent. Finally, these forms can be used for adults to give permission on behalf of their child (though this is sometimes called a Parental Consent Form).

Informed Assent Forms

When the medical procedure is being performed on a minor, or it’s a minor participating in a study, depending on the child’s age, they may be required to give their consent in addition to their parent or guardian’s. In these cases, the minor signs what’s called an Informed Assent Form.

These forms mimic Informed Consent Forms, informing of risks and giving consent the same way, but they also acknowledge that the minor doesn’t yet have the legal autonomy to fully consent for themselves. In most cases, children over the age of seven will be required to sign one, though some exceptions (such as emancipated minors) require a consent form to be signed instead.

    Nurse Showing an Informed Consent Form

    Parental Consent Forms

    Sometimes, the permission being given is not for the individual signing the document, but for their underage child. These are called Parental Consent Forms, and they can be used for a number of different things. First and foremost, as mentioned above, they permit medical procedures and research trials involving the minor to be performed.

    Permission Slips

    This is probably the most common type of Parental Consent Form that people are familiar with. These forms, frequently used by schools and sports organizations, are often required for children to participate in extracurricular activities. They may be incredibly simple, even just a statement of what activity they will be involved in and a line to sign on, but they still fall under this category.

    Minor Travel Consent

    If a minor travels, especially across national boundaries, a Minor Travel Consent Form will often be required. These forms allow parents and guardians to indicate to border agents that the travel is approved and permissible and that the child is not running away or being abducted.

    There are two travel situations that require this form—when the child is traveling alone, and when the child is traveling with a single parent. If both parents are present at the time of border crossing, the consent form isn’t required.

    Child Medical Consent

    Related to the Minor Travel Consent Form is the Child Medical Consent Form. If a child is being left in the care of someone else, such as a grandparent or family friend, and the child is injured during this time, the chaperone will need permission to make medical decisions on behalf of the child. Child Medical Consent Forms give this kind of permission, allowing the chaperone to seek medical treatment for the child.

    Mom Signing Parental Consent Form

    Doing Consent Forms Right

    Not everyone needs consent forms on a regular basis, but if you do, it’s important to know you don’t have to administer them manually. With WaiverSign, you can create a customized document and administer it digitally, allowing the individual to sign from anywhere.

    Paperless. Contactless. Hassle-less. That’s WaiverSign.

    online waiver on tablet with keyboard

    See If WaiverSign Works For You

    Don't wait to make the next step in streamlining your business.

    Try It Free

    Share this blog post

    Stephen Porritt

    What is a Consent Form?

    By Stephen Porritt

    Stephen is the Content Manager and SEO Specialist at RESMARK. He's a husband and father of four, a consummate writer, and a fan of puns and dad jokes. In his spare time, he plots world domination and plays video games.
    The information provided in this “Consent, Informed Consent, Parental Consent Forms” article is for informational purposes only, and the author and WaiverSign make no representation that the contents will effectively protect any legal rights or satisfy your legal obligations, including but not limited to personal or corporate liabilities. In order to protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney. The resources herein, including all verbal and written content, are not provided as legal advice to you, and should not be relied on as such.
    *All information is accurate as of October 2020.