Did you know that if you are traveling alone with your kid(s) additional documentation may be required?
So, what documents do I need when traveling alone with my child? Or what documents does my child need to fly alone? We are here to make preparing for the trip as easy for you as possible.
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First, make sure you have proper identification for your child.
It may seem a bit confusing as to what exactly you need to properly identify your children for TSA. There is a lot of confusing information out there. We are here to keep it simple for you.
The infographic below lists when you will need to take identification for your baby, toddler, and child.
**Pro-tip~ If you are traveling with a baby that is under 2 years old and they will be riding on your lap, make sure you have identification (birth certificate or passport) to prove the baby’s age.
I have heard horror stories about this exact situation. Since babies and toddlers under 2 years old are supposed to be able to fly for free, most of us assume we don’t need to take any identification for them.
This is the case for TSA when flying domestically. However, the airline can require you to show proof that your child is under 2 years old. In some cases when a parent cannot prove that their child is under 2, the airline has required the parents to purchase a full fare ticket for their baby.
You do not want this to happen to you! Take identification for your baby and toddler. Just in case.
What kinds of identification will TSA accept for my child?
TSA does not require identification for children flying under 18 as long as they are traveling with an adult that does have proper identification and they are flying domestically (staying within the country).
However, if your child is traveling alone, they will need to show TSA identification. Make sure they have their original birth certificate to show the airline and TSA for proof of identity before heading to the airport.
If you are traveling with a lap child (baby traveling for free) under 2 years old, I would also suggest bringing the child’s original birth certificate. In case the airline asks for proof of age.
I would suggest having your teen take their driver’s license if they have one. As children approach 18 years old, TSA will be more likely to ask for identification.
When traveling internationally your baby, toddler or child will need a passport. Immigration will require this regardless of the age of the child.
Single Parent Traveling Alone With Child
When you are traveling alone with your children or a single parent traveling alone. You will need additional identification beyond what is listed above.
You will want to have a Parent Consent Form or a parent traveling with a minor letter. This needs to be signed by both parents and/or all legal guardians.
When To Use a Parent Consent Form
- When a child is traveling alone
- Just one parent is traveling
- Your child is traveling with a friend
- Traveling with only one legal guardian
- Traveling with a group/organization
- ***This includes flying domestically and internationally*** TSA may ask for a consent form even within the United States.
What Do I Need On My Parent Consent Form?
When traveling alone internationally or domestically with your baby, toddler, and children we highly recommend you have a parent consent form. We recommend a parent travel letter or parent travel consent form no matter what age your child is.
Even though domestically in the United States, it is not required, it is becoming more common for parents to be asked for a parent consent form. This is to protect children from human trafficking and kidnapping.
To make it easy on yourself, you can this link (we do get a small commission from any purchases made from this link, this comes at no extra cost to you) from eForms. They make it simple to fill and print out. Click on the link for a free parent consent form.
What if I want to create a consent form on my own?
We always want to make preparation for trips as easy as possible. So, if you’d like to create the consent form on your own, you can easily do that in a word document. Just make sure to include the following details:
- Dates of travel
- Child’s name, date of birth, and passport information
- Flight information (airlines and flight numbers)
- Travel itinerary (including all countries that will be visited)
- Names of accompanying adults
- Any allergies or medical conditions
- Signed by all legal guardians
- Notarized (not required but definitely recommended)
- Telephone number of legal guardians
*Always check the specific country/countries that will be visited in case they require additional information US State Department-Country Information
How Old Does A Child Need To Be To Travel Alone?
At least 5 years old to travel on a direct flight (non-stop) without a parent or guardian present. Make sure to check with your airline for additional information.
A child that is 8 years old or older is allowed to fly alone on a flight with connections. As long as you are comfortable with the child being walked by airline staff to the connecting gate.
Any child that will be flying alone under the age of 18 years old should have a parent consent form sign, notarized, and ready when flying. If you are worried about notarization, check-out our post about some options on simple & fast ways to get things notarized here.
**Always double check these ages with your airline some airlines will not accept unaccompanied minors at all.
To book a flight for your child, you will need to call the airline or go directly. to them at the airport. The airlines do not allow online bookings for unaccompanied minors. They will also charge you a small fee for your child to travel alone.
What does my child need to fly alone?
When packing for your child to fly alone, first makes sure you have their identification, parent consent form, and itinerary.
You will want to help them pack a carry on bag so they’ll have everything they need for the flight. Here are a few items I would suggest packing in a small carry on bag:
- Headphones that fit your child
- A small snack, I like to put my child’s favorite candy in their bag
- Small blanket or something cuddly from home for when they get sleepy.
- A little bit of cash in case they need to buy a snack from the airline.
- Tablet or favorite electronic device.
- Light books or other forms of entertainment.
- Hand sanitizer
- Cell phones or other ways of communicating while they are traveling.
Long-sleevedshirt or jacket, in case they get cold on the flight.
Make sure you have valid identification and the parent consent form when your child is traveling alone or when you’re traveling without both legal guardians. This will make your trip go a lot smoother and faster. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be and you can start your trip off quickly.