do children need id to fly

Do Children Need ID to Fly?

“Does my child need ID to fly?” is what most parents may find themselves asking when preparing for a family vacation. When it comes to knowing whether or not your child may need identification to board a plane, it may seem a little confusing at times. Depending on where you are traveling to, as well as other factors such as the airline you are traveling on, an ID for your child may not always be required to board a plane. So what do kids below the age of 18 need to fly? Read on to learn more. 

One of the best places to check first for any air travel-related questions is the TSA website. According to the TSA, only those over the age of 18 are required to present valid identification. Minors traveling on domestic flights are not required to present identification. Regardless, parents should always reach out to the airline they plan on traveling with to confirm what is required in terms of a minor boarding a plane. A majority of airlines will allow a minor to board a plane without any identification, however if the child is traveling and they have a discounted rate for their ticket, ID may be required for proof of age. 

Two reasons why your child would not need to present any ID to fly would be flying within the United States accompanied by an adult or flying as an unaccompanied minor. 

Flying within the United States accompanied by an adult: The TSA and majority of airlines do not require children under the age of 18 to provide ID when traveling with an adult companion who has acceptable identification. This includes family trips when a child flies with his or her parents. The same rules will still apply once REAL ID rolls out and becomes a form of required identification for domestic air travel. Regardless, every airline has its own rules about minors and identification and some do require ID for kids. The best solution is to contact your airline a few days before your trip so you know exactly what to bring. If your child is traveling with only one parent, or with an adult who is not his or her parent, it is advisable, though not necessary, to fill out a Child Travel Consent Form and send it with your child. 

Flying as an unaccompanied minor within the United States: An unaccompanied minor does not typically need to show identification. However, adults accompanying the minor through the airport do need to bring their own form of ID in order to complete the process and get their child boarded on the plane. It’s also recommended that you have your child’s birth certificate or passport handy as well. If your kids are old enough to speak, security might ask them to say their name to confirm identification, so it would be a good idea to prepare your kids for this ahead of time. To avoid any unexpected mishaps at the airport, be sure to contact your airline to confirm rules and regulations for unaccompanied minors well before your trip.

An instance where your child will be required to present a form of identification when flying would be when traveling to international destinations. In cases like this, not only is ID required but also some additional paperwork may need to be completed ahead of time. 

Flying internationally: Generally speaking, each adult traveling in your party will need a passport and minor children will need either a passport or their original birth certificate. The name listed on the airline ticket must be identical to the name on the passport or birth certificate. Keep each child’s passport handy, since you might have to show it at both check-in and security checkpoints.

Traveling internationally with one parent or alone: Documentation becomes more complicated when one parent or guardian is traveling out of the country alone with a minor. In general, besides passports, you should bring written consent from the child’s biological parent(s) along with the child’s birth certificate. If the child is a minor and will be traveling alone or with someone other than a parent or legal guardian, additional paperwork is required. The best option is to complete a Child Travel Consent Form as we mentioned earlier. This form is a legal document that allows a minor to travel without both parents or legal guardians present. We advise you to complete these forms for all travel your child does as a minor, however, it is particularly important when a minor is traveling outside the country. TSA may allow your child through the airport in the U.S., but immigration officials in your child’s destination country may turn your child back if he or she does not have a consent form.

Do children need ID to fly? Yes and no depending on the destination and who they are traveling with. But it is best to always be prepared to avoid any unwanted surprises at the airports. Have your child’s passport handy just in case, as well as a copy of their birth certificate. If you need more than one official copy, VitalChek can help you get the proper documentation quickly and securely.

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