1. What is a Child Travel Consent Form?
This form is strongly recommended if a child travels alone, with only one parent, or with an authorized adult. It notifies others that the child has written permission or legal authority to travel without their parent(s).
Travel can occur either across state lines or across country borders.
Although not required by U.S. laws, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), immigration officers, or law enforcement officers may detain the child if they suspect an abduction or kidnapping.
A consent letter for children traveling abroad can help prevent any issues.
A simple Child Travel Consent form will identify the following basic elements:
- Parents: name of parent(s) or legal guardian(s) with legal custody
- Child: name, date of birth, place of birth, and passport details
- Travel Details: Traveling alone to meet a specific adult OR accompanied
- Trip Details: Travel dates, origin/destination sites, the purpose of the trip
- Contact Information: Address of destination and emergency contact
- Responsible Adult: Name of person or group who will be accompanying
- Signature: Signed by the parent or legal guardian NOT traveling with the child
- Witnesses or Notary Public: some airlines require additional signatures from witnesses for authenticity, while the U.S. Customs and Border Protection suggests it be notarized
When is This Form Needed
This form is commonly used when one or both parents or legal guardians cannot travel with the child.
It is needed under these circumstances:
- The child is under 18 years old
- Traveling by plane, train, or ship
- Crossing U.S. borders by plane
- Flying domestically in or out of state
- Custody of the child is disputed
- Only one parent has sole custody
If only one parent has custody of the child, the parent traveling with the child might consider bringing certified copies of the following supporting paperwork:
- Court decision
- Death certificate
- A birth certificate naming only one parent
- Custody papers documenting the guardian has legal custody
- Notarized statement or affidavit if one of the legal parents is absent
Why Should You Use a Travel Consent Form
When traveling with children, adults should formally document that they are authorized to travel with a child that is not their own. Customs and Border Protection Officers have the right to ask you for documentation, so it is best to be ready with a Travel Consent Form.
Otherwise, you and the child may be detained until the situation is clarified.
This is particularly necessary when only one parent is traveling with the child and the parents are separated or in a custody battle over the child.
Carrying a Parental Consent form does not guarantee entry or exit from a country. Border officials can allow or deny your child and/or the responsible adult into or out of their country.
CONSEQUENCES SUFFERED BY PARENTS & CHILDREN
|Consequences Suffered by Parent/Adult||Consequences Suffered by Child|
|1. Loss of Money||1. Loss of Money|
|Denied entry into a country with a child||Unable to enter a foreign country without formal document to travel alone or with an unauthorized adult|
|Need to hire a lawyer to dispute custody challenge with ex-spouse||2. Loss of Time|
|2. Loss of Time||Detained because law enforcement fears the child is being abducted or kidnapped|
|Detained by police or immigration officers about your legal authority over the child||Repeatedly questioned by airline employees and immigration officers about why they are traveling alone|
|Numerous questions about legal authority from airline employees||3. Mental Anguish|
|3. Mental Anguish||Difficulty getting past law enforcement checkpoints|
|Questioned at immigration checkpoints at the airport until situation explained||Suspected of being a runaway, a victim of child pornography, subjected to human trafficking, or abducted|
|Embarrassed because suspected as a kidnapper|
Common Situations for Using This Form
This document should be used if the child is:
- Traveling with only one parent
- Visiting parents who are separated
- Traveling alone because one parent has passed away
- Traveling with the one parent who has sole custody
Alternatively, this form is helpful if both parents allow the child to:
- Vacation with family and friends
- Go on a church outing with their congregation
- Attend a school trip with teachers or chaperones
- Travel or study abroad for a temporary amount of time
- Travel with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or babysitter
Check with your airline about any specific travel regulations for children.
What Should Be Included in a Minor Travel Consent Form
Our sample Child Travel Consent form asks easy questions that help you complete the document step-by-step.
Who is traveling?
Children under 18 years of age should either travel with an authorized adult or have special permission documented in the form. Otherwise, law enforcement officers consider such children “unaccompanied minors”.
Who is giving permission?
The parent or legal guardian who has custody of the child must give permission for the child to travel alone or with another parent, family member, or adult.
If the child is traveling alone, the Child Travel Consent form should be signed by parents or legal guardians who have custody of the child.
What are the details of the trip?
The Child Travel Consent form should also spell out the following details:
- WHERE the child is traveling to (final destination)
- WHEN the child will be traveling and returning
- WHY the child is on a journey with another adult or by themselves
- WHO the responsible adult is, if anyone, that will be traveling
What other details should be included?
This form may also cover the child’s food allergies or special needs.
You may also need a Child Medical Consent Form if you want another responsible adult to make medical decisions and authorize specific medical treatments for the child.