Don’t Forget Kids’ Passports!

TravelBy Amy A. Stawski

The school year is upon us and with it comes the countless activities on the school calendar. If you’re already penciling in a potential vacation abroad for the long December holiday recess or 2012’s mid-winter and spring breaks, you’ll want to add something more than sunblock to your “must take” list – passports. In fact, September is not too early to make appropriate arrangements to prevent problems and frustrations later. That’s especially true if your plans involve foreign travel with your children. As a Family Law attorney used to getting calls from parents unaware of what travel with children means in our post-9/11 world, I’ve put together some tips to make sure your vacation is a dream – rather than a nightmare:

  • Make sure all passports are up-to-date.
  • Need to update them? Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website: www.travel.state.gov for instructions.
  • Know your country—even if your passport is current, some countries require that you have a passport that will not expire within a 3-6 month period after your return to the U.S. You can find country-specific entry/exit requirements at www.travel.state.gov.
  • All children, including infants, must have a passport or passport card to travel internationally – and that includes Canada and Mexico.
  • If your child does not yet have a passport, or does not have a current one, apply for it well in advance of your trip. Don’t be like the family who waited until the morning of their flight to pack their children’s passports only to discover that one of the passports had expired resulting in the child spending the holidays with surprised grandparents instead of on a family vacation!
  • If your child is under the age of 16, both parents must consent to the issuance of the passport.
  • If you are a single parent, consent of the other parent may be difficult and time-consuming to obtain unless you fall within an exception to the two-parent rule. The time to start the process is now.
  • If your child will be traveling without one or both parents (accompanied by grandparents or other third parties), proper written proof of consent to your child’s travel as well as the passport is also a “must.”

Parent signature(s) must be notarized. Prevent situations such as the airline which refused a child’s trip to Cancun with her mother because the Consent was not notarized. Provide information regarding medical insurance covering your child and authorization for providing consent in the event the child needs emergency medical services while out of the country.

If you have questions as you plan for foreign travel with or for your children, feel free to call for more information. After all, you want your vacation to be all about fun, not stress.


For further information regarding these matters, please contact Ms. Stawski at 248.619.2590 or via email.