Travel Documents Needed For Children Traveling Without Both Parents

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Summer is quickly approaching. The break from school provides an opportunity for one of life’s pleasures—the Family Vacation! While some families pack up the minivan and embark on a road trip, others pull the camper to a nearby state park for a week of back to nature activities. Your neighbors may be visiting Walt Disney World or making a pilgrimage to Williamsburg, Boston, or Washington, DC to relive history. You may be considering a tropical escape in the Caribbean or a jaunt across the Atlantic to eat your way through France or Italy.

It’s common knowledge that travelers are required to carry valid passports if they are flying internationally. At Joyful Journeys, we also highly recommend our cruise clients to have passports, even if they are traveling on a “closed loop” cruise. For more information on that, refer to my previous article, Do I need a passport to go on a cruise?

Are you aware that minor children traveling without both biological parents should have additional documentation to travel, especially if traveling internationally? This applies not just to single-parent households. All responsible adults should plan ahead! Mother/daughter trips when Dad isn’t invited. Grandparents are taking the grandkids on an adventure without Mom and Dad. Parents allowing their only child to invite a friend along on a cruise vacation. Church groups where youth are traveling with authorized chaperones. Children traveling as unaccompanied minors.

Your situation may require additional documentation, but these two items are standard:

  1. Child Travel Consent. This is a legal document that gives permission for a minor to travel without both parents. It should list the child’s full legal name and birthdate, travel dates, destination, and full legal names of responsible traveling adults. This form or letter should be signed and notarized.
  2. Medical Consent. This document isn’t technically required, but it’s good to have on hand should the child require medical care while traveling. The form or letter gives permission for someone other than the parent to make medical decisions on the child’s behalf. It should include start and end dates that coincide with travel.
    • Medical consent may be added to the Child Travel Consent Form.
    • It’s also a good idea to attach pertinent medical information.
    o A copy of their insurance card.
    o Name and contact information of primary care physician.
    o Drug allergies.

Fortunately, neither of the recommended forms are difficult to attain. They just require a little time and advance planning.

If your situation is particularly thorny, consult your lawyer before beginning the vacation planning process. For most families, creating your own documents is easy. Templates are available online at and other legal help websites. Just google, and you’ll find plenty of assistance!

2 thoughts on “Travel Documents Needed For Children Traveling Without Both Parents

  1. Toni Abernathy says:

    Thank you Lisa. Steven’s mother in law is taking our oldest granddaughter back to China with her next month. Timely info.

    • jjourneysbylisa says:

      So glad the timing was good for your family. With a month before travel, they should have time to get all of the documents in order!

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