Traveling with your children is an amazing way to expose them to new cultures, people, and experiences that they may not have access to at home. Travel is the best education, and it’s always good to start early.
But traveling with kids can cause some serious problems if you don’t plan ahead. Here’s what you need to know before traveling domestically, to Canada, and to Mexico with your children.
Requirements for Kids Traveling Domestically
If you’re traveling via car with your kids, you probably won’t run into any situations where you need to present identification or proof of paternity. If you’re taking them on a flight, though, you should be prepared.
Kids under the age of 18 aren’t required to have any sort of ID to make it through security and board a flight, but you may need to provide proof of their age. This could be true of toddlers – to make sure they are under two years old to travel on your lap – or of teens – to make sure they are actually under 18. To be on the safe side, you should bring a copy of your child’s birth certificate along for any flights.
Requirements for Kids Traveling to Canada
Every person who enters Canada from the United States needs to present a valid proof of citizenship. That means that even your newborn baby needs a passport to get into Canada. Everyone over the age of 16 must also present a proof of identity, like a driver’s license. If your 16-year-old doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, you’ll need to get them some other form of government-issued ID. And if your child is 14 or 15, you may want to bring along a copy of their birth certificate to verify their age at customs.
If only one parent or guardian is taking a child to Canada, you’ll also need a notarized letter written by the absent parent stating that the adult traveling with the child has permission to do so. In this case, you will also need an original birth certificate or some other legal document that shows the relationship between the adult and the child.
Requirements for Kids Traveling to Mexico
The requirements for children visiting Mexico mirror the requirements for Canada. Any children traveling with just one parent will need that notarized permission letter and the original birth certificate. All visitors to Mexico, regardless of age, are required to have a valid passport or passport card. This is true whether you are flying in, driving, or walking across the border.
Make extra sure you are prepared, especially if you are driving, because the Mexican border agents may not check your passport before entering the country, so you could get stranded for a while if you accidentally leave your passport in America.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.