By Amy A. Stawski

Spring is upon us and with it comes countless activities. If you’re planning a summer vacation abroad, you’ll want to add something more than sunblock to your to-do list. As a family law attorney used to getting calls from parents unaware of what travel with children means in our new reality, I’ve put together some tips to make sure your vacation is a dream rather than a nightmare.

Apply for passports well in advance of your trip

All children, including infants, must have a passport or passport card to travel internationally, including to Canada and Mexico. If your child is under age 16, both parents must consent to the issuance of a 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 that process is now.

If you need to renew passports, do it early. 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! The U.S. Department of State website states that routine processing for new passports is 8 to 11 weeks. With everything going on in the world, it’s best to give yourself extra time.

Make sure passports are valid for your destination

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 passport applications, country-specific entry/exit requirements, instructions on how to update your passport at www.travel.state.gov.

Consent to travel

If your child will be traveling without one or both parents (accompanied by grandparents or other third parties), make sure you have provided them with your child’s passport as well as proper written and notarized proof of consent regarding your child’s travel. Prevent situations such as the airline which refused a child’s trip to Cancun with her mother because the Consent was not notarized.

Plan for the unexpected

Enroll your trip in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at step.state.gov. You will receive information from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate regarding safety conditions at your destination. Enrolling also helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

The U.S. State Department offers information on obtaining medical insurance coverage while you are out of the country. If traveling without one or more of your minor children, leave a power of attorney for their medical care and insurance coverage with the person they are staying with.

Check for COVID updates

As a final precaution, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn the latest COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination (www.cdc.gov).

If you have questions as you plan for foreign travel with or for your children, I would be pleased to assist you. After all, you want your vacation to be about fun, not stress.


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