Child protection. The idea is to safe-guard against child abduction and smuggling. Controls are getting tighter, and checks more frequent. This is a great sign for what we at CARI believe is long over due.
If your children don’t share your surname, and you’re travelling without their father (or vice versa) – or, indeed, if you’ve sent them on holiday with grandparents or other relatives with a different last name – there’s every chance you may be asked to prove their identity.
Traveling with kids outside your home country? In general, each adult in your party will need a passport and minor children will need either passports or original birth certificates.
Documentation requirements become more complicated when one parent or guardian is traveling alone with a minor. In general, besides your passport, you should bring written consent from the child’s biological parent(s) along with the child’s birth certificate.
Many countries require that the consent document be witnessed and notarized. Several websites let you download or print free parental consent forms.
Be aware that specific rules about documentation can differ substantially from country to country, so you should check the relevant websites for information about requirements for your destination country.
These excerpts regarding Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas (a popular port of call on Caribbean cruises) are good points of reference and demonstrate how varied the rules can be:
Canada: “If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents.
Please refer to the CBSA website for more details. There is no specific form for this document, but it should include dates of travel, parents’ names and photocopies of their state-issued IDs.”
Mexico: “Effective January 2, 2014, under Mexican law travel by minors (under 18 years of age) must show proof of parental/guardian permission to exit Mexico.
The minor is required to present a notarized document showing the consent to travel from both parents (or those with parental authority or legal guardianship), in addition to a passport, in order to leave Mexico. The document should be in Spanish; an English version must be accompanied by a Spanish translation. The document must be notarized or apostilled. The minor should carry the original letter (not a facsimile or scanned copy) as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (birth certificate or court document such as a custody decree, plus photocopies of both parents’ government-issued identification).
“According to INM, this regulation does NOT apply to a minor traveling with one parent or legal guardian, i.e. a consent letter from the missing parent is NOT required. In addition the regulation is not intended to apply to dual national minors (Mexican plus another nationality) if the minor is departing Mexico using the passport of the other nationality.
“The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has received numerous reports of U.S. citizens being required to provide notarized consent forms for circumstances falling outside of the categories listed above, and/or being asked for such permission at land border crossings. Therefore, the Embassy recommends all minors traveling without both parents carry a notarized consent letter at all times in the event airline or Mexican immigration representatives request one.
“Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy, the nearest Mexican consulate, or INM for more information.”
United Kingdom: A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you’ve got permission to take them abroad.
You might be asked for the letter at a UK or foreign border, or if there’s a dispute about taking a child abroad. The letter should include the other person’s contact details and details about the trip.
It also helps if you’ve:
- evidence of your relationship with the child, eg a birth or adoption certificate
- a divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child’s
Get permission from a court
You’ll need to apply to a court for permission to take a child abroad if you haven’t got permission from the other people with parental responsibility.
You must give details of the trip, eg the date of departure, when and how you’re returning, and contact details of people with parental responsibility staying in the UK.
You must give more information if you’re taking the child abroad for a longer trip, eg what education the child will get while they’re abroad.
Find a solicitor to get legal advice about permission to take a child abroad.
At the end of the day these new rules coming to force by different countries is a very good thing to stop the ever growing number of children being abducted illegally and or trafficked.
Please consult with a legal representative in your country as the above information is just that….information.