Traveling internationally with a minor this summer?

Traveling at a young age can teach children many things. Different cultures, food, climate and people from around the world can inspire and shape a young person’s life. But before you go explore the Amazon or flirt with danger on an African safari you have to get the kids on the plane and into another country-that can be tricky.

What documentation do I need? Anyone traveling outside of the country needs a passport. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends additional documentation for children. If you are not the parent of one of the children travelling with you, bring a signed note from that child’s parents or guardian clarifying permission to travel. This is often a smart move even if you are the mother or father — have the note, signed by both parents.

The U.S. State Department provides information specific to individual countries. For example, here’s what it says about traveling to Chile with minors:

“In an effort to prevent international child abduction, Chile has put in place strict requirements for the entry/exit of individuals under the age of 18. Even when the minor is traveling with both parents, the parents will be required to show evidence of their relationship to the child when departing the country. Please carry an original birth certificate or a certified copy of the original.”

Best practice is to check each country you plan to visit to determine what is needed for each country before you leave home.

What should a letter indicating permission to travel include? There is no template for this letter or anything to download from government agencies, so you must create this letter yourself. Information to include in the letter:

  • Who is traveling with your group?
  • What is your relationship with the child (or children) traveling with you?
  • What is the purpose of the trip?
  • What is your itinerary and the dates in each city/country?
  • How can officials contact the parent(s) not traveling with you?

What else do I need to know?

There could be a few more speed bumps along the way under certain circumstances. For instance, if both parents have different last names or a different last name than the child bring an original copy of the child’s birth certificate or a certified copy of the birth certificate.

To be safe you should make sure to have these items with you every time you travel with minors. If something happens to one of you while traveling it won’t be as easy to get the necessary documentation while you are on the other side of the world.

Gathering all of these things may be a hassle, it is easier than the disruption caused by not bringing them. Be sure to plan ahead and get these items lined up well in advance of your trip. Follow these tips and you are well on your way to an amazing trip abroad. Safe travels!