Documents All Parents Need When Traveling With Children

Children enjoying.
Children enjoying. Source: Depositphotos

Traveling somewhere with your own children, whether it is domestically or internationally, may sound simple; however, there are documents you must be aware of. While many parents may assume they get the final say on where their children go, this can become a pitfall if not backed up by legal documents. Luckily, we here at LawDistrict are here to help.


There are a number of vital documents that you will need to secure. These can be categorized into consent forms and identity documents.


Consent forms are often forgotten about, though they can be helpful or even completely necessary, depending on the circumstances. There are numerous forms that can aid in streamlining any journey a parent takes with their child or children, though the two most important ones are medical consent forms and travel consent forms.


In the rare event that your child needs medical attention while traveling, as the child’s parent, you are able to make medical decisions on behalf of them if they are a minor. However, if you are also traveling with a friend or a relative’s child, or if your traveling party consists of multiple people, this form is a must-have.


Unless you are with your child at all times, there may be a scenario in which they need medical attention while you are not present. In this situation, if another supervising adult is in possession of a child medical consent form, they will be able to act in your stead. This form grants them healthcare decision-making authority.


Similarly, if you are traveling with a child who is not your own, a child medical consent form will allow you to make those medical decisions in place of the child’s parent. These forms are easy to fill out, only requiring the contact information of the child/children, parents, and temporary guardians as well any important medical information.


See our free child medical consent template to get the process started and keep yourself and your child protected no matter what happens.


If you are traveling with your child without the other parent present, or a section of the journey involves your child traveling without you, then a travel consent form may be necessary. This form specifies the intended destination, the child’s contact information, the necessary contact information for both parents, and the travel party arrangements.


This form decreases the chance of extensive questioning when traveling domestically and is necessary when traveling internationally. A child will not be able to leave the country without this form, so ensure that you have it filled in, signed, and notarized by the proper authorities before you begin your journey.


For more information on the legal parameters around traveling with children and the necessary information for a consent form, check the U.S. Passport Service Guide.


Identity Documents

Identity documents are necessary when traveling, even if said travel is done domestically. When traveling with your child, it is recommended that you each have a passport as well as any necessary proof of relationship documents.



While flying domestically does not require minors to possess a passport, authorities recommend having one. If circumstances do not allow for it, the child’s birth certificate can be shown as an acceptable alternative. As passports are less cumbersome, and since they are a necessity for international travel, it is important to know how to procure one for your child.


Passports generally take around six weeks to arrive after applying, so you should factor this time in when making any travel plans. Additionally, both parents or guardians must sign the passport application form for any minor.


For more information about how to renew or apply for a new passport yourself, read through this page of the government website. The government website also provides additional information for applying for passports for children under sixteen


Proof of Relationship

Even if your child has a passport, it may be a good idea to have their birth certificate close to hand as this verifies your relationship with the child. In certain circumstances, such as traveling internationally or with a young child, such proof may be required. An adoption certificate or a court order may also act as proof of your relationship to the child.


If you and the child’s other parent are separated, you will need to carry additional documents when traveling with your child. Guardianship forms show that both parents consent to the child traveling with a single parent. You may also consider bringing the court order and any legal documents surrounding the separation and custody agreements.


Additional Documents

While the aforementioned documents are the basics that you will need when traveling with a child, unique circumstances may arise. It is important to check with the relevant travel companies for any additional documents that you or your child may require.