Traveling with kids isn’t always easy.
Traveling with kids internationally? Don’t even get me started.
One of the challenges for parents, guardians and chaperones of minors — boys and girls under the age of 18 — is documentation. Children, even newborns, need government-accepted identification, proof of citizenship, and often, documentation that the child has permission to travel internationally with an accompanying adult. (Don’t believe me? Read yesterday’s story by Jessica Monsell about one family’s adoption nightmare.)
This documentation has become necessary because of the increase in child abductions, including custodial abduction and illegal trafficking of children for child pornography and prostitution.
Obtaining the necessary documentation can be time-consuming and expensive. It must precisely meet your destination country’s requirements.
The laws governing entry and exit vary widely from nation to nation. If you’re a U.S. citizen, consult the State Department’s Country Specific information for the documentation requirements for your destination. Here’s a sample of just three countries’ requirements:
“If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents”
“Where BOTH parents are traveling with a child, parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.
In the case of ONE parent traveling with a child, he or she must carry an unabridged birth certificate and … consent in the form of an affidavit (issued no earlier than 3 months prior to travel dates) from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorizing him or her …”
A consent to travel document is required and can be filled out online, but the form is strictly in Spanish. You can have a consent document created “independently-produced,” but if it is, it must be in Spanish or if in English, it must be accompanied by a Spanish translation.
The best universally accepted proof of both identity and citizenship is a passport, even though it’s not required for all international travel. It’s the only accepted document proving identity and citizenship for all countries while using any mode of travel. It’s the only one I recommend.
Applying for a child’s passport can be very different than applying for an adult’s passport. In the U.S., for example, minors under the age of 16 can’t apply for a first time passport or renewal for themselves. Normally, both parents or all legal guardians of a child must appear in person to apply for the child’s passport or its renewal. If that’s not possible, then other documentation must be provided. The applicants for the child’s passport must provide documentation to prove their parenthood or guardianship and provide a government-approved photo identification of themselves.
Please note, some countries require passports to be valid six months or longer beyond the dates of your trip, so check your destination’s entry requirements. Don’t forget to ensure your child’s passport is valid, as in many countries it has a shorter term of validity than an adult’s.