I stared at the ticket agent. After many domestic flights with my children, I was attempting to travel internationally with kids, my kids! My boys were loading the luggage onto the scales as the ticket agent said it again. Did I have a signed notarized document from the boys’ father that they could travel internationally with me? Alone?
Having separated from my husband 6 months earlier, I took this as a personal affront to my less than blissful state of matrimony. Why did the airline need to know all the gory details of my marriage at this point? My husband agreed to let me travel internationally with kids, my family, months ago. What business was it of the airlines? Worse yet were we going to miss our flight to Mexico?
What the flight attendant said next really scared me. She said we could get on the plane in the USA without the consent document BUT I might not get out of Mexico with my children without the consent document. I frantically called my husband.
All the regulations on how to travel internationally with my kids caught me off guard that morning at the airport. Certainly not about me or my marriage, the international travel regulations apply to all children regardless of their parent’s marital status.
It does not matter if you are separated, married, adopted, guardian or in a domestic partnership, all single parents pursuing international travel with kids must present documentation from the non-traveling parent stating they may leave the country with the children.
Travel Internationally with Kids Requirements
All children are required to have a passport to leave the USA and enter a foreign country. Check! I held my son’s passports out to the gate agent. She asked me for a letter of consent for international travel with kids from the non-traveling parent. A letter of what? “A notarized document stating the boys had their father’s permission to travel with you alone,” the agent replied.
Staring at the gate agent two hours before the plane’s departure I stammered, “How am I supposed to get a notarized document from my husband now?”
If travel internationally with kids (minor children) out of the country without the other biological parent you are required to carry a notarized document from the non-traveling parent giving their permission for this trip.
Rules for each country may vary. To check please go to the site above and follow their directions.
Tips on Accessing the Us Embassy Site
Go to the site above, select Entry, Exit, & Visa Requirements in the gray box. Look for “travel with minors” in that section.
Each country is different. The following is an example from Mexico.
Mexican National Institute of Migration’s (Instituto Nacional de Migración, INM) website requires a notarized consent document from one parent/legal guardian for all minors departing Mexico with only one parent. INM requires at least one parent complete a SAM (Formato de Salida de Menores) for all minors departing Mexico with a third party. Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., the nearest Mexican consulate, or INM for more information.
The United Kingdom requires a similar letter although it is not stated on the site above. Click here for UK requirements.
Possible Formal Documents For Traveling Internationally with Kids
On one of the travel sites I read in preparing for the article, the parent asked what if the other parent is dead, do I carry the death certificate.
The unfortunate answer is yes.
Or, if in the case of adoption or termination of parental rights by the birth parent, the official documents must be available for proof before entering and exiting the country.
Documents to Carry when traveling with minor children:
Child’s official birth certificate
Marriage Licences (Especially, if your child’s name and yours are not the same or a stepchild or adopted child is traveling.)
Notarized Letter of Consent from the non-traveling parent for the trip and health care provisions. See below.
If the following applies, please add official copies of these documents
Death Certificate of Deceased Parent
Divorce Decree and Custody Arrangements
Sole Custody Papers
Any Offical Documents for Restraining orders or other orders of the court
Consent to Treat a Minor for Routine Health Care or an Emergency
Single parent travel also requires that the non-traveling parent or guardian complete a consent form for treating the minor child for any health problems.
Most USA health insurance policies suggest the purchase of supplemental health insurance policies for travel outside the country. Before traveling international with children check your policy for international coverage.
Many travel insurance groups offer both trip insurance ( cancellations, delay, evacuation) along with supplemental health insurance policies for a reasonable price. I want my travel internationally with kids as hassle-free as possible, so I do pay for a mid-range supplemental policy. Here are a few companies I have compared.
Single Parent Travel Internationally Does Not Have to Be Complicated
My dear husband rushed around that morning found a notary at the bank and faxed the airport the required document. We rushed down to the gate to board the plane. Getting on the plane I calmed myself down and settled in to enjoy the flight while my boys watched a movie. Our trip to Mexico was saved!!
Just by reading this article you are off to a great start. Be sure to check with your airline for any special regulations.
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