Traveling to a different country with your child can be an exciting experience for you both. However, before you embark on your trip, it is important to realize that there are a number of steps you will need to take ahead of time to ensure that there are no problems when it comes time to hop aboard your plane or ship. Specifically, there are a few different documents that you will need to have in order to travel with a minor under the age of eighteen years old. Follow these steps to avoid hiccups with your upcoming travels.
Obtain a Passport in Advance
Both you and the child with which you are traveling will need to have a valid passport in order to leave and return to the country, even if you are traveling with a handheld infant or toddler. Furthermore, most foreign countries will also require you and the child to provide a passport in order to enter. Since processing and shipping a passport is a complex process that can take months, it is generally recommended that you apply for yours and your child’s passport at least twelve weeks before your planned departure.
In some cases, you may be able to rush your passport processing by contacting your regional passport agency and paying an additional fee, but you should not count on this if at all possible. When applying for a passport, you will need such information for you and your child as a birth certificate, social security card, and other forms of identification as required by your regional branch.
Find Out if You Need a Visa
Depending on the country you wish to visit, you may need to obtain a visa for you and your child as well. A visa is not required for United States citizens to leave the country, but some countries will require that you present one upon your arrival. The application process for a visa can vary from country to country, so be sure to do your research ahead of time so that you can obtain yours and your child’s visa in time for the trip.
Obtain a Letter of Consent, if Necessary
If you are not the parent of the child you will be traveling with or if the child’s other parent is not accompanying you on the trip, then you will need to obtain a written, signed, and notarized letter from the other parent giving you permission to take the child outside of the country. The only exception to this is a situation in which you have sole custody of the child. The letter must list yours and the other party’s name, acknowledge where you are traveling, and provide permission with a valid date and signature.
As you can see, there are a number of documents that you will need when traveling with a minor. While this can make your travels a bit more complicated, planning ahead of time can make everything go much more smoothly.