Do I Need to Give My Child Permission to Leave the Country With Friends?

Having your child leave the country with a friend requires both the child and the friend to have the proper documents on hand. Every minor must have a valid passport before leaving the country, and both parents must sign off on the passport before it is issued, according to the U.S. Department of State website 13. In addition, your friends might need to show border crossing guards proof that they have permission to cross the border with your child, making it important that you supply the proper documents before the trip.

Letter of Consent

Every child under the age of 18 who is traveling with only one parent or with an individual who is not a parent or legal guardian should travel with a letter of consent. Although this is not a legal requirement, Customs and Border Protection officials might ask to see a letter of consent before allowing your child and friend to leave the United States 2. Many other countries will not allow someone to enter the country with an unrelated child child unless this document is provided, reports the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website.

Writing the Letter

There is no form letter available for this travel, but the letter should include:

  • who
  • what
  • where
  • when
  • why information on the child

It should also include the contact information for both parents. Having the letter notarized can eliminate potential problems and is highly recommended, suggest Customs and Border Protection officials 2. Traveling with the child's birth certificate, in addition to his passport, helps to prove that the traveler has permission to be with the child.

Possible Ramifications

Those who fail to take the necessary permission forms with them when attempting to leave the country with another person's child could find themselves detained by border patrol. Although officials do not have to ask for this documentation, if they do ask and the adult does not have it, that person will be detained until both parents can be contacted. If one parent is deceased or has given up custody of the child, carrying the relevant paperwork could help with this issue.

Additional Information

If you do not wish for your child to leave the country with another person, do not sign for his passport or keep the passport locked up so that no one else has access to it. Once he has his passport, it becomes very difficult to track his whereabouts, since the United States does not have exit controls for those leaving the country, reports the U.S. Department of State 13.

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