What is a Child Travel Consent form?
A Child Travel Consent gives a minor child permission to travel without their parents or legal guardians. Use this form when your child needs to travel alone or with another adult, who is not their legal guardian (e.g., a grandparent, friend, or teacher).
A minor child is someone who hasn’t reached the legal age of majority, which varies by jurisdiction. Most jurisdictions consider a person a legal adult once they turn 18 years old, while others must be 19 or 21.
You can use the same travel consent letter for domestic and international flights. However, if your child’s travel itinerary involves multiple stops, consider creating a consent letter for each trip.
A Child Travel Consent is also known as a:
- Parental Consent Form
- Travel Consent Letter
- Travel Permission Letter
- Consent Letter for Children Traveling Abroad
Do I need a Child Travel Consent form?
Proof of parental consent is an essential step in preventing child abductions. Without proof of parental consent, travel authorities may prohibit a child from continuing to their destination.
Situations that commonly require a Child Travel Consent include:
- Children traveling with only one parent when their parents are legally separated
- Students traveling abroad as part of a school trip
- Children traveling with a group, such as a sports team, vacation tour, or another cultural or religious organization
- Children traveling with a temporary guardian or extended family members, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins
- A minor traveling alone (by plane, train, or ship), meeting their guardian at their destination
However, U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that any child under the age of 16 traveling without both parents should have a notarized Child Travel Consent signed by both parents.
Check your airline’s requirements to see if you’ll need a Child Travel Consent for an unaccompanied minor or a minor traveling with someone who isn’t their legal guardian.
If your child is flying internationally, you should also check the destination country’s government website to see if the country requires parental authorization before allowing a child to cross their borders in someone else’s custody. You can also contact the U.S. Embassy in your child’s destination country to determine what documentation your child needs.
Do separated or single parents need a travel consent form?
Even a parent with sole custody (i.e. the parent with legal authority to make all decisions for their children) may need to provide travel consent. This is because the parent who doesn’t have sole custody often retains access rights (also called visitation rights).
The District of Homeland Security states that a single parent with sole custody can use a copy of the court custody document instead of a Child Travel Consent letter from the other parent when traveling with the child.
When parents arrange custody, they can include terms for child travel in their separation or divorce documents. However, depending on the size of the agreement or court order, a Child Travel Consent form may be easier for border agents to handle.
However, when traveling internationally, some countries may require a Child Travel Consent letter in addition to a court order or separation papers.
How do I write a consent letter for my child to travel?
- List your child’s name, birth date/place, and passport details.
- Provide the parent’s/guardian’s name, custody information, and passport details.
- Add contact information for the non-traveling parents/guardians.
- Detail the child’s destination and dates of travel.
- If needed, you can add details for an emergency contact.
- Sign the consent letter in front of a witness to validate it (the witness should also sign).
Use LawDepot’s Child Travel Consent template to quickly generate your authorization form.
Should I notarize my Child Travel Consent form?
Many travel authorities require Child Travel Consent forms to be notarized for proof of authenticity. A notary public validates the identities and signatures of the people named in a document. As such, their seal on your Child Travel Consent is an asset.
Many countries have strict requirements regarding proof of custody to prevent international child abduction. Check for official travel advisories and different exit and entry requirements before sending your child on a trip abroad.
Without notarized consent, border officials could delay or prevent your child from traveling further.
What documents does a child need to travel without parents?
Although airline requirements for children vary, you should be prepared to show the following documentation:
- Boarding pass
- Birth certificate
- Parent consent form
- Passport or photo I.D.
It’s important to note that a Child Travel Consent form does not allow a temporary guardian to make medical decisions for your child during their trip.
In case of emergency, create a Child Medical Consent to give a chaperone the authority to make medical decisions in your stead. This document outlines your child’s medical history, healthcare providers, emergency contacts, and authorized treatments.