It’s summer and families are on the move. Some of them are crossing borders. And it turns out that in this day and age, in addition to passports, tablets, and endless patience, parents also need to consider whether or not they’ll need a permission letter as well.
If you are traveling internationally with minor children and are either doing it solo, or are not the child’s parents, be prepared to be asked for a document showing that you have permission to do so.
A Minor Travel Consent Form has become an increasingly necessary document. Here’s how the US Customs & Border Protection Service puts it on their website: “Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that unless a 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, 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 have my permission to do so.”
US Customs goes on to say that if you are traveling with a child and there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (such as deceased parent, or if you have sole custody), bring relevant paperwork such as court orders, birth certificates naming only one parent, or a death certificate.)
While such a consent form is not required in the United States, many other countries do require such forms: failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates can result in being refused entry. US Customs says that if you don’t have such documentation, you may “be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed.”