Required Documents for International Travel With Minors

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is a nationally recognized family travel expert and an award-winning travel writer and editor.

Cute little girl walking with her mother at airport

Traveling with kids outside your home country? In general, each adult in your party will need a passport, and minor children will need either passports or original birth certificates.

Documentation requirements become more complicated when one parent or guardian is traveling alone with a minor. In general, besides your passport, you should bring written consent from the child’s biological parent(s) along with the child’s birth certificate. Many countries require that the consent document be witnessed and notarized. Several websites let you download or print free parental consent forms.

What documents do minors need to travel?

Country-Specific Rules

Be aware that specific rules about documentation can differ substantially from country to country. You should check the US State Department International Travel website for information about requirements for your destination country. Find your destination country, then the tab for “Entry, Exit, & Visa Requirements,” then scroll down to “Travel with Minors.”

These excerpts regarding Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas (a popular port of call on Caribbean cruises) are good points of reference and demonstrate how varied the rules can be:

Canada

“If you plan to travel to Canada with a minor who is not your own child or for whom you do not have full legal custody, CBSA may require you to present a notarized affidavit of consent from the minor’s parents. Please refer to the CBSA website for more details. There is no specific form for this document, but it should include dates of travel, parents’ names, and photocopies of their state-issued IDs.”

Mexico

“Effective January 2, 2014, under Mexican law travel by minors (under 18 years of age) must show proof of parental/guardian permission to exit Mexico. This regulation applies if the minor is traveling by air or sea; traveling alone or with a third party of legal age (grandparent, uncle/aunt, school group, etc.); and using Mexican documents (birth certificate, passport, temporary or permanent Mexican residency).

“The minor is required to present a notarized document showing the consent to travel from both parents (or those with parental authority or legal guardianship), in addition to a passport, in order to leave Mexico. The document should be in Spanish; an English version must be accompanied by a Spanish translation. The document must be notarized or apostilled. The minor should carry the original letter (not a facsimile or scanned copy) as well as proof of the parent/child relationship (birth certificate or court document such as a custody decree, plus photocopies of both parents’ government-issued identification).

“According to INM, this regulation does NOT apply to a minor traveling with one parent or legal guardian, i.e., a consent letter from the missing parent is NOT required. In addition, the regulation is not intended to apply to dual national minors (Mexican plus another nationality) if the minor is departing Mexico using the passport of the other nationality. However, if the minor is departing Mexico using the Mexican passport, the regulation does apply. The Embassy nevertheless recommends that dual nationals travel prepared with a consent letter from both parents.

“The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has received numerous reports of U.S. citizens being required to provide notarized consent forms for circumstances falling outside of the categories listed above, and/or being asked for such permission at land border crossings. Therefore, the Embassy recommends all minors traveling without both parents carry a notarized consent letter at all times in the event airline or Mexican immigration representatives request one.

“Travelers should contact the Mexican Embassy, the nearest Mexican consulate, or INM for more information.”

The Bahamas

“Minors traveling unaccompanied or accompanied by a guardian or chaperone: What is required to enter The Bahamas may vary greatly from what is required to re-enter the country of origin. In general, a child under 16 years of age may travel into the Bahamas merely with proof of citizenship. Proof of citizenship can be a raised seal birth certificate and preferably a government-issued photo ID if on a closed-loop cruise or a U.S. passport if entering by air or private vessel.

“The Bahamas requires compliance with regulations to divert child abduction. Any child traveling without one of the parents listed upon the birth certificate must have a letter from the absent parent granting permission for the child to travel. This should be sworn before a notary public and signed by the absent parent(s). If the parent is deceased, a certified death certificate may be necessary.

“It is advisable to have the minor carry a written notarized consent letter from both parents (if both are listed on the child’s certificate of birth) before sending your child to travel as a minor with a guardian or chaperone.”

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Are you flying with kids within the US? You should know about REAL ID, the new identification required for domestic air travel.

Traveling to Europe with kids? What to know about vaccination and entry rules

Happy mother and son traveling to Paris and playing to be on a plane near the Eiffel Tower

Do children need a booster for travel in Europe this summer? Can unvaccinated children travel? Here’s what you need to know as the European Union (EU) introduces flexible travel rules for people under the age of 18.

Across the EU, tourists who completed their primary jabs more than 270 days ago need a booster to enter countries such as France, Spain and Italy — or be considered unvaccinated and therefore subject to additional rules such as testing.

This recommendation was introduced by the European Commission (the legal arm of the EU) on February 1 under the EU Digital COVID Certificate regulation. Most EU member states adopted it, though some, such as Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, have since scrapped all COVID-19 entry requirements at their borders.

Teenagers students using smartphone on a school break

Children under the age of 18 are now considered fully vaccinated with the primary series of vaccines under the EU Digital COVID Certificate © Getty Images

This week, the Commission introduced new rules on the EU digital COVID certificate that exempt children under the age of 18 from the 270 days acceptance period following the primary vaccination series. This means that children are considered fully vaccinated after having received their primary dose; whether that’s a two-shot vaccine series or a one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

By April 6, this new feature will be included in the mobile app used to verify EU Digital COVID Certificates so that children’s certificates remain active without the booster.

In a statement, Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “One of the biggest benefits of the EU Digital COVID Certificate is its flexibility to adapt to new circumstances. Following discussions with member states’ public health experts, we have decided that the vaccination certificates of minors should not expire. When travelling, they will be able to continue using the certificate received after the primary series of vaccination.”

This exemption applies to EU and Schengen Zone citizens and residents traveling within Europe, though some countries can adopt their own entry restrictions regardless of the Commission’s ruling.

If you plan to travel to Europe with kids this summer, here’s what you need to know about the latest entry rules and how they apply to you, even if you’re traveling from countries outside of the EU like the UK and the US.

Can unvaccinated children travel to Europe?

Generally speaking, yes. Children under 12 are typically exempt from vaccination requirements in most countries but many require that children between the age of 12 and 18 have received the primary vaccine course to avoid testing rules.

What countries in Europe have scrapped COVID-19 entry restrictions?

Andorra, Denmark, Hungary, Lithuania, Iceland, Ireland, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have recently dropped all pandemic restrictions at their borders, meaning people no longer have to show vaccination certificates or negative tests to enter these countries, regardless of where they are coming from.

Two kids walking to the beach

Countries in Europe with travel restrictions

Here are some of the destinations in Europe that still require proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test from travelers.

Austria

People over the age of 12 need one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Belgium

Generally, people traveling from the EU/Schengen area can present proof of vaccination (booster mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days) or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (36 hours) test.

People from outside the EU or an area categorized as high-risk must present proof of vaccination. Children under 18 can present proof of recovery or a negative test. Children under 12 are exempt.

Belgium’s rules vary depending on the COVID-19 risk associated with your departing country.

Croatia

People need one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing. Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Cyprus

People over the age of 12 need one of the following: proof of vaccination (booster mandatory seven months after primary vaccine course) or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test. People also have to take a PCR on arrival and isolate while awaiting results.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing. Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Estonia

People must present proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after primary vaccine course) or recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days) to bypass additional restrictions. Unvaccinated travelers from the EU and approved countries including the UK and US must isolate for seven days upon arrival.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from entry rules.

Germany

People traveling from the EU, Schengen Zone or approved countries including Hong Kong, New Zealand and South Korea can present one of the following: proof of vaccination; recovery certificate (older than 28 days, but no less than three months old) or a PCR (48 hours) or antigen (48 hours) test. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from testing.

People traveling from outside the EU, including the UK and the US, must be vaccinated to enter Germany. Unvaccinated 6-11 year olds can enter with a vaccinated parent; unvaccinated accompanying over-12s can provide a negative PCR or antigen test.

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Greece

People traveling from the EU, US, UK, Canada, Australia, and other approved countries need to present one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory seven months after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Children under five are exempt from all entry requirements. Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Finland

There are no entry rules for those traveling from the EU and Schengen Zone countries. However, people coming from third countries such as the UK and the US must provide proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after primary vaccine course) or recovery certificate (issued within the past six months).

Children born in 2007 or later are exempt if accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.

France

People must present one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after a primary vaccine course) or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours) test.

Children under 12 are exempt. Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Cheerful friends cycling and skateboarding on street in city

Italy

People need to present one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory seven months after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours) test.

Children under the age of six are exempt from testing. Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Latvia

People over the age of 12 need one of the following: proof of vaccination (second dose administered at least 14 days prior to travel); recovery certificate; or negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours) test.

Luxembourg

People need one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past six months); or a negative PCR (48 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt.

Malta

People must present proof of vaccination with a booster to travel to Malta.

Children between the ages of five and 11 must present a negative PCR test (72 hours). Children under five are exempt.

Netherlands

There are no entry rules for people traveling from the EU/Schengen area or countries participating in the EU travel rules scheme. People from elsewhere, including the US and UK, must present proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course) or a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days but no earlier than 11 days).

Children under 12 traveling to the Netherlands from outside the EU/Schengen area must show a negative PCR (48 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Portugal

People over the age of 12 need one of the following: proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

Boosters are not required for those under 18 to be considered fully vaccinated.

Slovakia

People traveling to Slovakia must show proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after primary vaccine course).

Children under the age of 12 are exempt.

Spain

People traveling from the EU can show proof of vaccination (boosters mandatory nine months after primary vaccine course); a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days) or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (24 hours) test.

People traveling from outside the EU must show proof of vaccination or recovery only (unless traveling to Balearic Islands where proof of vaccination is mandatory).

Children under 12 are exempt from vaccination requirements. Unvaccinated 12 to 17-year-olds can present a negative PCR (72 hours) test.

Switzerland

People traveling to Switzerland must show proof of vaccination ( booster mandatory 270 days after primary vaccine course) or a recovery certificate (issued within the past 180 days).

Children under 18 are exempt.

Turkey

Most people need to present one of the following: proof of vaccination; a recovery certificate (issued within the past six months but no less than 28 days); or a negative PCR (72 hours) or antigen (48 hours) test.

Children under the age of 12 are exempting from testing.

People from high-risk countries are subject to stricter rules including quarantine if they’re unvaccinated.

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ETIAS for children: travel to Europe with minors

etias children travel europe minors

ETIAS stands for European Travel and Information Authorisation System. ETIAS is not a visa but an electronic travel authorisation and will be a mandatory entry requirement for citizens of over 50 countries. Children will be required to have a valid ETIAS upon arrival at any of the Schengen member countries. Parents will need to complete the ETIAS application on behalf of their children.

Citizens of 62 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Japan, Canada and Chile, are able to visit Europe for short-term stays without a visa. From November 2023, such countries will maintain their visa-free privileges but will be able to register with ETIAS before travel. The system is being developed by the European agency eu-LISA, which operates large-scale IT security systems.

Why do children need ETIAS to visit Europe?

The EU believes that there is a need to know who is crossing shared European borders to better secure the region. Though children are not necessarily considered a threat, the EU needs to control who is entering the region and when. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented the proposal in his 2016 State of the Union Address, he expressed the need for the European Union to better secure its external borders.

The ETIAS application form can be easily completed by the parent or guardian. They will need to provide the child’s details including their full name (as it appears on passport) and the passport data. The parent or guardian will also need to specify that they are indeed completing the ETIAS application form on behalf of their child.

The system is being designed to increase security and protect the Schengen Area. One of the main goals is for ETIAS to make border crossing fast and efficient. The system will pre-screen a traveller before they can even leave for Europe. When a person has entered their data and submitted the application, the ETIAS system will compare all of the information against a series of security databases that include the Interpol and Europol.

This European system will be able to identify whether an applicant has lied on the security questions section or determine whether they are applying with a stolen passport. If the system identifies an issue with an application, an alert will be raised, and the respective ETIAS team will manually check the application to verify the applicant’s details and background.

How to complete the ETIAS application for a child?

Parents or guardians should not be concerned about completing the ETIAS application form for their children. ETIAS is not a visa and the application is more straightforward, requiring just a few specific personal details. Each application should take about 10 minutes to fill in.

The information that the ETIAS application requires of each traveller is the following:

  • Full name
  • Country and date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Contact details (phone, address)

The parent or guardian will also need to provide their full name, and mark on the application that they are completing the application for a minor.

The parent or guardian completing the application should indicate the country of intended first entry. They will need to fill in the child’s passport number as well as the passport issuing and expiration date. Children cannot travel under their parent or guardian’s passport. The child needs to have their own passport to travel to Europe.

Among the ETIAS requirements, besides having a valid passport, the applicant needs an email address. When a parent is completing the ETIAS form for their child, they can give their personal email address. This is where information about the status of the ETIAS visa waiver will be sent. The parent will receive notifications about the status of their child’s ETIAS application. Once the ETIAS visa waiver is approved, the holder can travel on multiple occasions over a period of 3 consecutive years, unless the passport expires.

Each person who wishes to travel to one or more countries in the Schengen Area should get a valid ETIAS as of November 2023. Families cannot apply as a family or as a group, an individual application will be required per family member.

Our etias.info collaborator Lauren Kemp writes about everything you need to know to travel to Europe safely and easily. Kemp’s content covers the European Union’s travel regulations, tourist hotspots, international relations, and more.

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Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/documents-for-international-travel-with-minors-3266959

Source https://www.lonelyplanet.com/news/latest-europe-travel-rules-for-children-under-18

Source https://www.etias.info/etias-children-travel-europe-minors/

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