Minors traveling internationally require valid passports. There are some exceptions where a birth certificate or proof of citizenship will suffice, like when a minor is traveling overland to Canada or Mexico. However according to the U.S. Department of State, all U.S. citizens traveling overseas must have a passport. Schools groups, youth groups, missions trips, and simply vacationing internationally with a minor requires certain documentation. Traveling internationally with minors without their parents means you should have a notarized consent form from the parents.
Parents Traveling Internationally with Minors
Entering the U.S. with a Minor
Driving into the United States with a Minor: If you have not yet received a birth certificate for a U.S. or Canadian citizen infant, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will accept either the birth record issued by the hospital, a letter on hospital letterhead or a letter from the doctor who delivered the child providing details of the birth, including the name of the child, time and place of birth, and parents names. Birth certificates should be used for children over 1 year old. Infants and children from countries other than Canada and the U.S. should have a passport. Remember if you plan to drive overseas, you should really have an International Driving Permit.
Flying into the United States with a Minor: All children and infants will require a passport in order to enter the U.S. by air.
Traveling Internationally with Minors without Their Parents
Traveling without BOTH parents present or with NO parents present:
If you decide to travel overseas without both parents present, the missing parent should submit a notarized statement of parental consent. If both parents are not traveling with the child, they should both have given notarized consent stating “I acknowledge that (blank) is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so.” Review the Custom and Border Patrol website on parental consent. While the U.S. does not require this documentation, many other countries do. If you cannot produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates, it could result in travelers being refused entry. Canada has very strict parental consent requirements. A list of embassy’s and entry requirements can be obtained at the Department of State Web site.
Parental consent/permission letter
The parental consent letter should include: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and contact information for the absent parent(s). The consent form does not need to be notarized, but it should be. The letter should be in English as well.