Traveling can broaden your child's world. If you're not going on the trip with him, however, you probably have a million concerns, including what type of documentation to send with him. The paperwork your child needs to fly with a relative other than a parent depends on whether he's flying domestically or out of the country.
Every child older than age 2 needs his own seat on the airplane, which means you will have to purchase a ticket for him. When he passes through security, he will need his own boarding pass to board the airplane. Children younger than age 2 can fly for free only if your relative holds the child on her lap during the flight. If your relative is older and your child is large and wiggly, this could be difficult. It's always safer to have your child in his own seat in an airline-approved car safety device such as a car seat or harness.
The Transportation Security Administration doesn't require identification for children younger than age 18 flying in the United States, but it never hurts for your child to have some type of identification with him. A photo ID card with your contact information on it, a notarized letter from you stating that your relative has your permission to travel with your child or a copy of the child's birth certificate can provide peace of mind for your relative if someone questions why she is traveling with your child.
Every person flying overseas needs a passport, including infants. If your relative takes your child overseas, he must have his own passport. Getting a passport takes time -- around four to six weeks, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs -- so don't leave this task until the week before the trip. Both parents must appear with the child to obtain a passport; if both parents can't be there, the absent parent must provide notarized permission for the passport. You will also need to provide evidence of your relationship to your child, such as a birth certificate and identification of your own.
While it's not required for flights in the United States, a notarized letter stating that your relative has your permission to fly with your child is essential when traveling abroad. When you pass through customs, the Customs and Border Patrol may ask to see a letter stating that you have authorized the travel. This is to protect your child from abduction in custody cases or other disputes. If you don't have a letter, you could be detained at customs until they determine that you have permission to take the child into another country.
- Transportation Security Administration: Acceptable IDs
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Minors Under Age 16
- Customs and Border Patrol: Children - Child traveling with one parent or Someone Who is not a Parent or Legal Guardian or a Group
- IFly: What Identification is Required at US Airports?
- Bureau of Consular Affairs: Processing Times
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