Traveling internationally with children, however, can be a challenge for even experienced globetrotters. Special paperwork may be required, and while some travelers squeak by without the proper documents, other tourists have been stopped by zealous border officers or airline personnel.
PassportsIf this is the first time you've applied for apassport for your children, do not wait until the last minute to send in the application. Things come up during the application process that can add several weeks to the process, so it's best to have time on your side to fix any problems.
If your child already has a passport, check that it's still valid. Adults are often surprised to discover that even though they got their passports at the same time as their child, the minor's has expired. This is because children passports expire every five years, while an adult's is good for 10 years.
Letter of PermissionIf you are traveling with your child who is under 18 without the other parent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection highly recommends that you obtain a notarized letter of permission from the absent parent. While you may not always be asked for this letter when traveling, not having one could cause you to be detained by customs officials or airline personnel or barred from entering some countries. Canada is strict about this requirement. For travel to Mexico, this letter needs to be translated into Spanish and both copies must be notarized.
Written and notarized permission from both parents is necessary if you are taking a child who is not your own with you on an international trip, even if he or she is your blood relative.
International Cruises or Land TravelYou might consider taking the family on a cruise this holiday for ease of international travel. And why not, a cruise is a rather practical holiday route to go with and often caters to families and offers activities for kids specifically. But remember that there's paperwork involved there as well. Although you and your children can travel between the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda with just a passport card, it may be better to fork out the extra cash for full passport books. Two recent incidents where cruise ships became crippled out at sea point to the importance of bringing more than just passport cards with you while traveling internationally. According to Consumer Traveler, if these boats had been towed into a foreign port, any traveler who only had a passport card would not have been able to get a flight home.
Adopted ChildrenYou will need to carry a number of documents if you are traveling with an adopted child who is 15 years or younger. If your international travel will be by land, bring a United States birth certificate, a consular report of birth abroad, a birth certification and either a naturalization or certificate of citizenship. If you are flying, you will be required to bring your child's U.S. passport or a valid foreign one and a Lawful Permanent Card. In either case, you will also need your child's adoption decree and the court-ordered proof of custody or guardianship.
It's vital you're careful with these documents. Children are increasingly a target for identity theft, according to Lifelock, so any paperwork with their social security number and other personal information should be closely guarded.
-- Hannah Collins