Minor travel consent form – what is it? Do I need it?
If a child (under the age of 18) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, it’s important to know what paperwork should the adult have to indicate permission or legal authority to have that child in their care.
Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child’s other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups, a note signed by both parents) stating “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so.”
CBP also suggests that this note be notarized.
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if they do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (deceased, sole custody, etc.) any other relevant paperwork, such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful.
Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require Minor Travel Consent Form, many other countries do; failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry (Canada has very strict requirements in this regard).
There is no standard form for a travel consent letter but, at minimum, it should contain the following:
- The full names and birthdays of the children travelling;
- The names, addresses, and contact information for the guardians not travelling with the children;
- The name and relationship to the children of the adult travelling with the child (if appropriate);
- The place the children are travelling too, and potentially where and who they will be staying with;
- The date that the children are traveling, and their expected return date;
Sample letter of consent for travel of minor child. This letter is intended for crossing the U.S. / Canadian border and may not be sufficient for international travel to other countries. You should research the requirements for any other country your child will be visiting.