If a child needs to travel on a field trip, for sports, to perform in a music concert, for religious purpose or abroad without parents or legal guardian, the person responsible for the child should have a permission letter that is signed by the parents and notarized.
This legally transfers the responsibility for the child to the accompanying adult. A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 or under whatever the age of majority is in the place where they live.
Today, for both domestic and international travel, human trafficking and abduction are becoming more common.
This is why governments around the world are requesting documents that prove a child is with a legal guardian.
Even though it may not be required by law, if a child is traveling abroad without his or her parents, the parents should look into the requirements of the country of destination for their child to gain entry into that country. This can be seen at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country.html
For example, if you are traveling to Canada with a child who is not your own, the immigration authorities may require a permission letter that is signed by both parents, if applicable. The same applies to Mexico. Without this, the child may be considered an unaccompanied minor.
The letter should contain the name and birth date of the child and the name of the parent, parents or legal guardian. In some cases, it may be a grandparent or uncle or aunt.
If the parents are divorced, one or both may be legal guardians. In any case, each legal guardian should give his or her name and sign the letter. The contact information for reaching the parents in case of emergency can be added at the end of the letter.
The details of the trip should be stipulated. Where is the final destination, what are the beginning and returning travel dates and why is the child making the journey?
For example, it could be for tourism, to visit a friend or relative or with a group. The name of the responsible adult should be mentioned if the child is not traveling alone. If required, the letter may contain certain details about the child such as food allergies, medications needed or other special needs.
If the responsible adult may need to make medical decisions, a medical consent form may also be required.
A medical consent letter will allow the responsible adult to make medical decisions in the event of injury or illness during the travel. The letter should contain any relevant information about allergies to medicines and vaccinations.
If a child is traveling with only one parent, it may be wise to have a permission letter signed by the other parent even if the parents are not married, are separated or divorced.
If both parents travel out of the country and only one parent returns with the child as the other needs to remain due to business or family matters, it is recommended the parent not returning with the child give a letter of consent stating that the child has permission to return with the other parent.
Notarize permission Letter?
While no law requires a permission letter to be notarized if the child is traveling with a responsible adult, it is highly recommended that any permission letter be notarized.
This will make government officials at borders or otherwise less likely to question its authenticity. Immigration officers, law enforcement officers and customs agents have the right to detain a child if they believe an abduction has taken place.
Here is a sample letter for a traveling child. The child should carry a copy of this letter as well as the responsible adult traveling with the child.
Sample Permission Letter For Child To Travel With Friend
[Name of the Child’s Parent or Parents or Legal Guardian]
[Address of the Child’s Parent or Parents or Legal Guardian]
[City, State, Zip Code]
To Whom It May Concern:
We, [PARENTS OR LEGAL GUARDIAN’S FULL NAME], are the lawful guardians of our son, [CHILD’S FULL NAME]. His date of birth is [DATE OF BIRTH], his passport number is [NUMBER] and it expires on [DATE].
Our son is traveling with [NAME OF FRIEND] to New York to attend a Broadway play with his high school drama class.
We give our permission for our son to travel to New York on [DATE] and return home to Charlottesville on [DATE]. If there are any questions regarding this consent we can be contacted at:
[FATHER’S NAME: phone number, email address]
[MOTHER’S NAME: phone number, email address]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Thank you for your kind consideration in this matter.
[Signature of father]
[Printed full name of the father]
[Signature of mother]
[Printed full name of the mother]
Notarization is required if the child is traveling alone and in the care of airline staff