International Travel With Kids: What Documentation Will They Need?

Taking an international trip can be a big ordeal for anyone, but traveling with children adds another layer to the undertaking. You have to organize many things to make the trip enjoyable for your children and for you! One of the issues many parents worry about most before the day of travel is documentation—and rightfully so. Depending on the location to which you travel, there may be very strict documentation requirements, so it is important you have all paperwork together well before the day of your trip.

While you will want to check an official resource to make certain you have exactly what you need, here are a few fairly standard documents you may want to gather:

  • Passport – If you travel internationally, a passport will be required for all members of your traveling party—including children. It may take a few weeks to have a passport issued (unless you pay for rush service) so it is important to act early and not wind up short on time. The requirements for a passport include proof of citizenship (typically with a certified birth certificate), proof of parental custody, a 2” x 2” passport photo and the completed DS-11 application form. Also, remember that passports for children are only valid for five years, so if your child already has a passport, make certain it is still valid for your upcoming trip.
  • Certified Birth Certificate – Traveling with a certified birth certificate may not be necessary if you already have a passport, but it may help alleviate certain travel difficulties. Make sure you obtain an official, government-approved birth certificate for travel. This can be one of the best ways to protect yourself and your child in case of any passport problems.
  • Immunization Record – Immunization records may be needed if you are traveling to certain locales; however, it is a good idea no matter what the destination. If you find your child in need of medical care, a good immunization record can be vital.
  • Consent Documents – Consent documents come into play if a child is traveling with just one parent. Check online to find out the exact requirements for the country you are visiting. In many cases, you will have to obtain an official letter from the other parent stating the child is allowed to leave the country. This document may need to be notarized by an official to be valid for travel to certain areas.

Gathering these documents may take a bit of time and effort, but if you plan ahead it is easy enough to get everything together and make certain you’re covered. Then, after you have the needed documentation, you will be able to relax and enjoy the trip with your family.


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