Whether you’re flying, driving, or sailing, traveling internationally can be stressful—especially with kids. Since different travel companies and airlines have different policies, there are important documents to have in any situation to guarantee your travels are less stressful.
Some documents, such as Child Travel Consent forms, are not only necessary but also helpful in keeping children protected. Child Travel Consent forms reduce the risk of abduction or child trafficking. This keeps children safe and prevents missing children from leaving the country.
Here are the three documents you need to reach your destination without any hassle.
Related documents: Child Medical Consent Form
Children of all ages usually require a valid passport when flying to another country. While children traveling by land or sea can travel to most destinations with a birth certificate, we strongly recommend that you apply for a passport anyway. A passport provides official proof of citizenship and helps avoid delays when passing over borders. Because passports are the primary form of identification when traveling, it is worth obtaining one just in case.
To apply for a passport, bring a completed application form, passport photo, and the required verification documents to the passport office. Usually, these documents include proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) and passport photo. Additional documents may also be required. There is also a fee required when applying for a passport. Both parents or guardians must sign the application form when applying for a passport. If your child is under the age of 16, their passport will be valid for five years.
After submitting the required documents, passports usually take about four to six weeks to arrive so it’s important to plan ahead. If you find yourself needing a passport at the last minute, you can apply to have it rushed for a fee. For urgent services, you must apply in person at select passport offices, provide proof of travel, and pay additional fees. There is no guarantee that your passport will be ready in time, so try to plan ahead of time.
Read More: Child Medical Consent Basics
Child Travel Consent
A Child Travel Consent form (sometimes called a letter of permission to travel) provides proof that a child has permission to travel without both (or either) legal guardians present. If a child is crossing borders alone or with an adult who isn’t their legal guardian, they need a consent letter signed by both parents. If they are traveling with one parent, the other parent needs to sign the consent form as well. In either case, parents or guardians should verify their identities with supporting documents (such as a copy of their passport or photo ID).
Regulations may not require you to provide a Child Travel Consent form if you are flying with children, but be sure to check the airline or country border control requirements. Even if a form isn’t legally required, a Child Travel Consent form is highly recommended. Without the proper documents, officers or attendants may not allow you or your child to travel in or out of the country.
A Child Travel Consent form includes:
- The child’s contact information
- Both parents’ contact information
- The child’s travel arrangement (one parent, no parents, chaperone, group travel etc.)
- The child’s destination
Having your Child Travel Consent witnessed or notarized decreases the chance of travel authorities questioning its validity. The country you are traveling to and the airline you are using will affect the signing details. Be sure to check their policies before signing, especially when traveling with a minor abroad.
The key to smooth travel is planning ahead. Collect information about your child’s travel times, accommodations, and the destination in advance, as well as any paperwork that your child will need with them when they travel.
Proof of Relationship
In addition to a passport and travel consent letter, parents should also carry proof of their relationship to their child. This could include a birth certificate, a court order, or an adoption decree. Providing proof of the relationship between the child and parents verifies a Child Travel Consent.
Separated parents should carry guardianship forms, like a Child Travel Consent form, stating that both parents agree to the child traveling in the care of one parent. A letter of consent to travel with one parent can save separated parents a great deal of trouble at the border. They should also carry a copy of the court order, separation agreement, or other legal custody documents that prove their custody arrangements.
If a child has a deceased parent, you should present a copy of the death certificate alongside the travel consent letter.
Quick Tips for Parents Traveling with Children
- Keep all documents in a safe, accessible place where they won’t be easily damaged or stolen
- Always check with your travel agent, airline company, or government official to find out if there are any specific documents required for your trip
- If you are flying internationally, try to arrive at the airport three hours early to allow for adequate travel time
- Make sure your child has your personal information on them at all times, along with copies of their travel consent forms, travel itinerary, and passport
- More valuable documents like passports should stay with a parent or guardian, if possible
- Read over all documents ahead of time to ensure information is complete and accurate
A little bit of planning can take away a lot of stress when traveling. By making sure you have the right documents, you’ll spend less time worrying and more time enjoying your vacation with your kids.
Start your Child Travel Consent Form here