Planning a trip and creating memories can be exhilarating, but the process itself can be overwhelming, especially when traveling internationally with children.
There are all kinds of details to consider, hotels and activities to arrange, and necessary items to pack for the journey.
But some items are more important than others! First on your packing list should always be any necessary travel documents.
If you’re wondering what travel documents your kids need for an international journey, here are five common documents that you may require:
The most essential travel document for kids and adults when traveling is a valid passport.
It both permits your entry into other countries, and serves as your identification when you’re abroad.
Passport processing times can very much vary by country, taking as little as 20 business days in Canada, for instance, or up to 10 to 13 weeks for travelers from the United States.
To avoid any last-minute issues and problems, make sure to apply for any needed passports for yourself and your children as soon as your travel dates are confirmed.
Also, make sure to check and see if any of your family’s current passports are expiring within the next six months. Some countries may require passports to be valid for at least that length of time.
In most countries, each child traveling with you will need their own passport. And child passport applications can take additional time and paperwork to complete.
So, making sure every member of your family has a valid passport should always be your first step when traveling internationally.
Visa requirements differ greatly from country to country, so you’ll want to check the regulations of your destination to see if they’re required.
Because the US has one of the strictest visa processes, one thing many UK travelers wonder is do the British need a visa for the USA?
If you travel from Britain to the USA and you are taking your kids with you, you’ll either need to apply for a visa, or apply for ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, clearance.
This document is an alternative to a visa that’s available to citizens of USA Visa Waiver Program countries, and can be processed in just 72 hours.
The online ESTA application is usually very quick and easy and it takes just 10 minutes to complete.
Keep in mind that ESTA is only available for business, medical, tourism, or transit purposes, and requires a valid machine-readable passport which is valid for at least 6 months.
If you are traveling from Canada, no visa is required. But, applying for a NEXUS card can be a great time-saving way to skip border lines and enter the USA through special global entry kiosks.
Regardless of the travel clearance you might need to obtain, make sure to research and assemble any necessary documents you need for the application to make the process quicker and easier.
Proof of Relationship
If you are traveling with kids, airlines and border officers may ask you to prove your relationship with the children that you are accompanying.
This can be especially common if your child has a different last name than you. To avoid any issues, you should bring:
- Court orders or custody agreements
- Adoption papers
- Certificates of name change, if applicable
- Birth certificate
Your child’s birth certificate might be all that’s required, but if you have a different last name, the additional documentation may be necessary.
If you’re a solo parent traveling with your children, you’ll likely need some additional travel documents for your kids.
To prove you are authorized to travel with your child, you will need to have a letter of consent or permission signed by the second parent.
The letter of consent should include the child’s basic information, contact details for the parents or legal guardians, the destination, and the duration of the trip. It may also need to include passport information, depending on the country.
Make sure the letter is signed by the other parent or legal guardian, and includes their contact information so that officials can reach out if they have concerns.
If you have sole custody, bringing proof of that is sufficient. If the second parent has passed away, a copy of the death certificate may be requested.
Travelling with a baby younger than two weeks old may require a medical consent letter from your doctor. This letter simply confirms that your baby is fit to travel with you.
Unsure if your airline requires this? Just ask! Contact your airline to double-check if a medical consent letter is necessary before your journey.
Different countries have different rules and entry requirements for adults traveling with children. While some may seem excessive, the requirements are essential in helping prevent child abduction.
To avoid being denied entry at the airport, or upon arrival, take some time to research the requirements of the country you’re visiting.
That way, you’ll be able to head out on your international journey with all the travel documents your kids need, ready to relax and enjoy your adventure!