A child travel consent form is a legal document that lets minors travel without having both of their parents or guardians present. Travel consent forms are usually used when a child is traveling alone for international or domestic travel but can also be used when a child is traveling with a group, school, or with an adult who is not their legal guardian.
It is advisable to have a child consent form for any travel, especially if traveling out of the country. Also, keep in mind that consent forms are only suitable for a specific trip. You will need a new one each time the child travels.
In general, children between 5 and 18 years old can fly by themselves. However, airlines may require the younger of this group to take part in their unaccompanied minor program. For domestic travel, a parent or guardian will need to fill out the airline’s form for consent. A child traveling out of the country on their own, with a legal guardian, or with someone permitted by the parent or legal guardian, will need to have a Child Travel Consent form that is notarized.
Alternative Names for a Child Travel Consent Form
A child travel consent form can also be referred to as:
- Minor Travel Consent Form
- Parental Consent Form
- Travel permission letter
- Letter for a child traveling abroad
- Affidavit of Consent for children traveling abroad
What is a Child Travel Consent Form?
With the rise of cases of a child being abducted in custody cases by one parent, or a child being the victim of pornography and trafficking, the government and airlines have become extremely vigilant regarding children traveling. Before being allowed to go, they will be asked for a travel consent form if they are not with both parents.
This form is a legal document that lets minors travel without having both of their parents or guardians present. The form is mainly used when children are travel as unaccompanied minors, as well as traveling with an adult that is not the legal guardian, such as a grandparent, family member, friend, or teacher. It’s advisable to have this form for any travel, especially if traveling out of the country. Also, keep in mind that travel consent is only suitable for that specific trip. You will need a new one each time the child travels.
When to Use a Child Travel Consent Form
Although the U.S. laws do not necessitate that any child is traveling alone to have a consent form, the child may be detained by the U.S CBP – Customs and Border Protection, immigration officers, or any law enforcement officer if they suspect that the child has been kidnapped or abducted. It is recommended to have a travel consent form whenever a child is traveling under the following circumstances:
- If the child is under 18 years
- If the child is traveling by ship, plane,or train
- If a child is flying domestically in or out of the State
- If a child is crossing the U.S. borders by plane
- If only one parent of the child has sole custody of the child
NOTE: If only one parent has sole custody of the child, it is recommended that the parent is traveling with the child to have supporting paperwork such as the court decision papers, death certificate, birth certificate naming only one parent, custody papers, a notarized statement, etc.
What this Form Should Include
There are specific things that need to be on the form, including:
Who is traveling
Children under the age of 18 are required to travel with their parents, legal guardian, or an authorized adult. If traveling alone, they must be given a consent form. The Child consent form should contain the child’s name and the name of any authorized person accompanying the child during the travel.
Who is giving permission?
The child consent form should include the name of the parent or legal guardian, permitting for the child to travel alone or with another adult, parent, or family member. Both parents must sign the child’s consent form. If one parent has sole custody of the child, they must sign and indicate that they have sole custody.
The details of the trip
The child consent form must also outline the details of the trip, including:
- Where: Where the child is traveling
- When: When the child will be traveling and how long they will stay at their destination
- Why: The reason for the travel and why they are traveling alone or with another adult
- Who: Who will be responsible for the child during the travel (if any)
Other details that should be included in the child consent form include things such as:
- Special medication
- Special needs
One thing to be aware of is that every country will have its own rules regarding documentation. Before traveling, you should check with the U.S. State Department International Travel regarding the country you are traveling to or contact the country’s embassy to find out whether you will need a special government form to travel with the minor. For instance, if you are traveling to Australia, you will need to have a special consent form for an Australian visa for a minor.
Pro Tip: You can download one of our free child travel consent form templates to give you a better idea of what this form should look like.
Free Consent Forms
Laws Around Traveling Minors
When it comes to minor traveling, there are laws in place to protect them from being taken out of the State or country. Federal laws prohibit one parent from taking a child out of the country or keeping them as a way to stop the custodial rights of the other parent. It’s known as International Parental Kidnapping. Those convicted of this crime can face three years in prison.
It is essential to determine which parent has responsibility for the minor when it comes to custody issues. If both parents accept responsibility with no restrictions or child arrangements in place, neither parent can take the child out of the country without consent from the other. Should one parent refuse to give consent, the other parent will need to get travel permission from the court. A parent or guardian will need to fill out the airline’s form for this program for domestic travel. A child traveling out of the country on their own, with one parent or legal guardian, or with someone permitted by the parent or legal guardian, will need to have a Child Travel Consent form that is notarized.
NOTE: A person who has Main Care Arrangement Order cannot be allowed to travel out of the country with a child without consent for no more than 28 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is usually recommended to have a travel consent document, regardless of whether the parents are married or divorced, if only one parent is traveling with the child.
Children need to be at least five years of age to be allowed to travel on their own. However, if flying, the flight needs to be a direct flight that has no connections along the way. Children that are eight years of age and older can take a trip with relationships, with personnel of the airline escorting them to their gate. The recommendation for any child under 18 to carry a Minor Travel Consent Form.
No. Travel consent does not include permission for anyone other than the parent or guardian to make medical decisions on the child’s behalf. A separate form would be required.
For direct flights with no connections, a child must be at least 5 years old to travel without a parent or a legal guardian.
For flights with connections, a child must be at least 8 years old and must be escorted by the airline personnel to their gate.
A child travel consent form does not include permission to make medical decisions on behalf of the child. For anyone to be authorized to make any medical decisions on behalf of the child during travels, the parent or the legal guardian must use a minor child’s power of attorney.