This post is written in partnership with Notarize. All opinions are my own.
I’m not a single parent, but I still do a lot of solo parent travel. I have done mother-daughter trips, road trips, and even a couple of international trips with just my daughter. In the past few years, I have learned a lot about the pros and cons of taking one-on-one trips with your children, and I’ve also had to wade through some legalese — child travel consent form, child medical consent form, etc.
It can be a lot to sort through and the airlines aren’t always helpful about what you will need so I thought I would break it down for you. When you are traveling one-on-one with your child, you have enough to worry about, both logistically and from a parenting perspective, to deal with any additional hassles.
Additionally, if you are bringing a friend along on a vacation to be your child’s companion, there are even more hurdles to jump through to ensure a smooth and safe trip.
When You Need a Travel Consent Form
We have had three instances in recent years where this topic came up. The first was a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. Glenn had been spending back-to-back weeks in California for work. Instead of the constant flying back and forth, we decided to take advantage of a four-day long weekend from school to meet up on the West Coast. We had a credit with Air Canada that needed to be used and we have always wanted to visit Vancouver so it was decided. Hannah and I would meet him in Vancouver and he would fly up from California.
It all sounds easy, after all, we have both taken her to Florida on her own without any problems. But this time it would just be the two of us flying into Canada. In my experience, the Canadian border agents ask a lot of questions and I wanted to be prepared. This was the first time we had to employ a consent letter for children travelling abroad. Even though it was never requested, I felt better knowing it was in my pocket.
The next time we had arranged to bring a friend on our trip to Yellowstone and the Nine Quarter Circle Dude Ranch. Not only were we bringing another child, but Glenn was going to fly with both of them and meet me out there, as I was already in Texas for a conference. Plus, given the remote location and the possibility for injury, I was worried what to do if the friend got hurt. Here we realized that we needed both a minor travel consent form and a medical consent form.
Then just this past spring, I won a trip to Martinique for two. Glenn couldn’t get off work so I took Hannah for her spring break. Not only were we flying internationally, but we were also going to a French-speaking country and I wanted to make sure there weren’t any issues because my French language skills are mal. If only I had anticipated all the other problems that we would have on arrival! (Pro tip: when traveling solo, always make sure you have your ATM card, multiple credit cards (stored separately), and plenty of cash in the local currency. Just take it from me!)
These were all instances when we needed to bring along our proper identification and forms.
What to Bring when Traveling Solo with your Child
Technically if you are traveling domestically, a minor child shouldn’t need identification for TSA or airline agents. However, I’ve noticed now that I have a teen, the agents are more likely to ask her age and more questions. I have been thinking that even when traveling in the U.S., I would like her to start carrying her student ID or have a scanned copy of her birth certificate stored on my phone.
Obviously if you are traveling internationally, everyone needs a Passport (unless exceptions are made for a Passport card). However, if your child has a different last name than you, they are traveling without a parent or legal guardian, or just one parent is present, that may raise some questions.
Child Travel Consent Form
Due to the increase in child trafficking and abductions, if your minor child is traveling with only one parent, or without their parents or legal guardians, you may be asked to provide a travel consent letter to a TSA agent when boarding a plane, or an immigration officer when traveling internationally.
A letter of consent for a child to travel is a pretty simple document. Free versions are available for download.
A travel consent letter should include:
- Child’s full name as shown on identification
- Date and place of birth
- Passport information (number, issue date, expiration date, country of issue)
- Name and contact info for person receiving consent, as well as relationship to child
- Travel dates and destination address
- Contact information for parent or legal guardian
The most important recommendation is that this form be witnessed and notarized when signed to prove its authenticity. This proved to be one of our bigger challenges — but more on that in a minute!
Medical Consent Form
When your child is traveling with a friend or grandparents, you should also send along a Child Medical Consent Form. Basically this allows the person they are traveling with to seek healthcare and make medical decisions on behalf of your child without you being there. If I think about all the times a child has gotten sick on our travels, I think this makes perfect sense.
These forms are also available for free and should be notarized. I would also include a copy of their health insurance card. When we took Hannah’s friend with us on vacation, this is what her parents provided so there wouldn’t be any issues.
If your child is going to be participating in any activities that require a waiver or parental consent (horseback riding, rock climbing, etc.), you should also either contact the outfitters ahead of time to sign the waiver online, or provide a notarized Child Power of Attorney form to the adult that your child will be with.
Notarize: The Easy Way to get Forms Notarized
It seems like every time we realize we need to get a form notarized, there is no one around to get it done. Our bank has a notary public on staff, but she isn’t always in and it requires an appointment. As two parents that travel a lot for work, we have also had the challenge of getting the two of us in the same place at the same time to actually go see a notary.
When Glenn was in California and we were in Rhode Island but we needed to get a travel consent form signed, we were pulling our hair out to make it happen.
I have since found a much better way of getting forms notarized and that is with Notarize! Notarize is the first notary public platform allowing any person or business to get their documents legally notarized online.
Notarize, an online notary service and app, available at Notarize.com or the Notarize mobile app, takes the pain and stress out of getting documents notarized, making it convenient, secure, and verifiable.
You can easily connect with a notary public using your computer, tablet, or mobile phone and get documents notarized in less than 15 minutes. 24×7!
Instead of scrambling around as you are packing or leaving for the airport, you can take care of the documents at anytime, any day, from anywhere. It can even work internationally if you lose your passport and need a new one or have another document that needs notarizing while abroad — no visit to the embassy needed!
Notarizations can be validated instantly and Notarize provides digitally encrypted, tamper-proof documents.
To me, using Notarize is an absolute no brainer! I already do my shopping, banking, investing, and work online. Before Notarize I hated having to deal with paperwork and would put it off until the last minute. Now I can take care of it whenever I have the time from the comfort of home.
How Notarize Works
- Sign up on Notarize.com or through the mobile app.
- Complete your form (but don’t sign it!)
- Scan the document or choose one from your email or cloud services (PDF, DOCX, ODT, and HTML).
- Connect face-to-face with a registered notary using your camera-enabled mobile phone, tablet, or laptop. (Be sure to have your ID ready!)
- The notary witnesses your signature and notarizes your document.
- Send or download to print your document!
It is that easy. Check it out at Notarize.com now!
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