If a child (under the age of 18) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, it’s important to know that Minor Travel Consent Form is one of the most important documents that an adult needs to have to indicate permission or legal authority to have that child in their care.
Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless both parents accompany the child, the adult have a minor travel consent form from the child’s other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups, a note signed by both parents) stating.
“I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so.”
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if they do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (deceased, sole custody, etc.), any other relevant paperwork, such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful.
Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require Minor Travel Consent Letter, many other countries do; failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry (Canada has rigorous requirements in this regard).
There is no standard form for a minor travel consent letter, but, at minimum, it should contain the following:
The full names and birthdays of the children traveling;
The names, addresses, and contact information for the guardians not traveling with the children;
The name and relationship to the children of the adult traveling with the child (if appropriate);
The place the children are traveling to, and potentially where and who they will be staying with;
The date that the children are traveling, and their expected return date;
The signature of the parent permitting travel should be notarized.