Even with the restrictions on gatherings and fear of traveling due to Covid 19 affecting the US and every other country on the planet, sometimes we need to travel, sometimes we need to travel internationally; the necessities of life don’t stop.
We recently assisted a father in planning for the travel of his minor son, both foreign nationals. A family relative was planning to return the minor child to his home country. The father wanted to ensure that they could travel from the US to their home country legally and without complications. While we were not in a position to counsel the travelers on whether they could legally re-enter their home country or return to the US, we were in a position to help the family member travel with the minor child with the authorization of the parents.
Parents with child custody and visitation plans in place for minor children understand the need for legal recognition of such agreements in the event of one parent traveling outside the US without the other parent’s consent. Even though the adult traveler may be a parent, they could be accused of kidnapping if the other parent has not authorized the travel with the minor child.
A non-parent adult traveling with a minor child adds another level of concern and scrutiny by transportation carriers and border authorities. For this reason, if you are allowing your minor child to travel with a non-parent, take steps to minimize the risk that the traveling adult won’t encounter trouble from authorities while traveling.
The US U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that the accompanying adult have a note from the non-traveling parent, or in the case of a child traveling with neither parent, a note signed by both parents stating “I acknowledge that my minor child is traveling out of the country with this person. They have my/our permission to do so.” If there is only one living parent or one parent in the life of the minor child, and thus the traveling adult has a letter from only one parent, it is suggested that the traveling adult carry legal substantiation of this as well. While the US does not require any of this documentation of the traveling adult and cannot ask for it, there most likely will be delays and extensive questioning if no paperwork is made available. And we don’t know what the other country will require.
To assist the parents and the traveling adult, we drafted a Minor Travel Consent Form from both parents that included notarized signatures and had it further notarized (apostilled*) by our state secretary of state’s office to ensure recognition and acceptance of the document in the foreign country to which they are traveling. While none of this will ensure the traveling pair will not be stopped and questioned, it provides them with a level of authority and support that should minimize further trouble. If you are in need of this type of document or need to discuss other guardianship and familial matters, then consider speaking with an experienced guardianship lawyer to help you out.