What Is a Child Travel Consent Form?
A child travel consent form legally grants a minor aged 5-17 permission to travel without their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The form is strongly recommended if a child travels alone, with only one parent or an authorized adult. Travel can occur either across state lines or across country borders.
The document can also be referred to by other names:
- Affidavit of Consent for Children Traveling Abroad
- Letter for Children Traveling Abroad
- Minor Travel Consent Form
- Travel Permission Letter
- Printable Travel Consent Letter for Minor
How Does a Child Travel Consent Form Work?
A child travel consent form works by signaling to other adults that the child in question can travel alone or with specified persons. Adults should formally document that they are authorized to travel with a child that is not their own when traveling with children. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers have the right to ask for documentation, so it is best to be ready with a child travel consent form.
What Is Included in a Child Travel Consent Form?
It’s essential to include all the necessary identifying information to alert adults that the child has legal permission to travel alone or with named others. Our Child Travel Consent form builder asks you simple questions that help you fill out the document step-by-step.
Who is traveling?
Children under 18 should either travel with an authorized adult or have special permission documented in a consent form. Otherwise, law enforcement officers will 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 other adult. If the child is traveling alone, both parents or legal guardians must sign the child travel consent form.
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 with them
What other details should be included?
This form may also cover food allergies, medical conditions, or special needs of the child. It should provide clear names and numbers for the parents or emergency contacts if needed.
Consider adding a Child Medical Consent Form if you want another responsible adult to make medical decisions and authorize certain medical treatments for a child.
When Is a Child Travel Consent Form Needed?
Consent for a traveling minor is commonly needed 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
- Involved in a custody dispute
- In the sole custody of just one parent or legal guardian
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
What are the Benefits of Having a Child Travel Consent Form?
The primary benefit of having a child travel consent form is guaranteeing smooth passage through airports and customs. A legal consent to travel is a crucial document that immediately answers why a child appears to be traveling alone or without parents or legal guardians.
A travel consent form is also beneficial when only one parent is traveling with the child, and the parents are separated or in a custody dispute. The document will clarify which parent has the legal right to travel with their child during certain time frames.
Keep in mind that carrying a parental consent form does not guarantee entry or exit from a country. Border officials have the absolute right to allow or deny your child and/or the responsible adult passage into or out of their country.
Do I Need a Child Travel Consent Form for My Child?
It’s preferable to avoid any situation that could prevent or slow down your child’s authorized travel. You should use this document if your child is:
- Traveling with only one parent
- Visiting parents who are separated
- Traveling alone because one parent has passed away
You should also keep in mind any travel limitations ordered by the court if you are a single parent with sole legal custody. For example, the court may decide the signature of the co-parent is still required when you want to travel abroad with your child.
For international travel, other countries may have specific rules for child travel consent, so it’s advisable to check the destination country’s requirements before traveling.
This form is also useful if both parents allow the child to:
- Vacation with family friends
- Go on a church outing with their congregation
- Attend a school trip with teachers or chaperones
- Travel or study abroad for a period of time
- Travel with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult sibling, or babysitter
You should also check with your airline about any specific travel regulations for children.
What happens if they travel without one?
While the U.S. does not require a child consent form for accompanied minors, other countries may have different requirements. For example, Canada has strict requirements regarding consent forms and legal permissions to travel. Failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry.
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol may not ask to see a travel consent letter, but if you do not have one, you may be detained until they can fully assess the conditions of the child traveling without both parents. Sometimes, only one parent will have legal claims to the child due to having sole custody, or the second parent is deceased. Any relevant paperwork such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, or a death certificate would help avoid detainment.
Not providing your child with a travel consent letter could incur preventable consequences, including:
- Airline employees and immigration officers repeatedly questioning the unaccompanied minor about why they are traveling alone.
- The police suspecting the minor child is a runaway or a victim of human trafficking.
- Suspecting the accompanying adult of being a kidnapper.
- Losing time and money if the child is detained or refused entry.
Where Can I Get a Child Travel Consent Form?
Related questions / FAQs
Here are the most commonly asked questions for child travel consent forms:
Yes, child travel consent forms are a legal requirement. You must present travel consent forms for other adults to recognize that the travel is authorized and legally permitted. At airports, that information is requested in an unaccompanied minor form.
When checking the child in at an airport service counter, the adult fills out an unaccompanied minor form and any necessary customs and immigration documents. These forms, and any notarized travel consent letters, must remain with your child during their journey. Having the letter notarized is not necessary but highly recommended.
Yes, you can use the same travel consent form for multiple trips. If your minor child frequently travels or crosses a border, the CBP states the letter should not be over one year old. It is also recommended to have the letter in English.
Yes, it is strongly recommended that you have a travel consent form if you’re traveling with your child, particularly when only one parent is traveling. You will need a note from the co-parent unless both of you accompany the child. However, if you have sole legal custody of the child, only your signature is required.