It can be a very different experience to travel with kids than it is for an adult. Flying with children can be more exciting when you consider the extra baggage, security checks, how to board the plane and keep them entertained.
It’s not clear if minors are required to show identification in order to fly. For domestic travel in the U.S., there is no need for identification. However, international travel requires it.
The type of vacation you are taking will determine whether your kids require identification to fly. Here are some situations in which kids don’t need identification to fly and others where it is required.
Children don’t require an ID to fly within the U.S.
Travelling with an Adult
Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration confirm that children younger than 18 years old do not need an identification card to fly domestically.
The adult traveling with the child must have a valid ID. Most airlines do not allow children to travel alone unless they use their unaccompanied minors service.
Adults must possess a driver’s licence or identification card issued by the state, a passport or passport-card, if they are permanent residents, e.g. : border crossing cards, or any other form of federally accepted identification.
To answer questions from security personnel, complete the form for child travel consent if you are traveling with an adult who is not a parent.
Some airlines may require extra documentation when flying with an infant. This could include a medical form. You may want to get a letter from the hospital or doctor confirming that your infant is fit to fly.
Traveling as a minor unaccompanied on domestic travel
The adult who is taking the unaccompanied child to the airport must show identification. If the child has a passport or identification card, bring it.
Also, it’s recommended they bring their birth certificates. Some airlines require that the adult sign a form of release.
Check with your airline to see if they have any requirements. American Airlines, for example requires that the child have some form of identification such as a birth certificate or passport. As an added measure, the airline recommends that a child wear a shirt with a photocopy of their ID.
Children need to be ID’d when traveling internationally
Travelling internationally with an adult
Each person traveling out of the U.S. requires some sort of identification. It could be either a birth certificate or passport depending on where you are going.
It’s important for all travelers to carry some sort of ID, even if they can cross borders using a government-issued ID. Most countries will require you to have a passport, and children may need to get a visa if they are entering the country.
Children under the age of 16 are allowed to travel to Canada with their birth certificates or any other form of proof that they have U.S. Citizenship. Children should still apply for their passports if they intend to travel abroad at any point.
It is advisable to obtain a letter of consent notarized when a minor travels with one parent to prevent any problems at the border checkpoints. Custodial documentation is also valid when a minor child is in the care of a parent. This information can be useful when crossing borders by air or land.
Traveling abroad as a minor unaccompanied
Unaccompanied children will also need to have documentation, usually a passport. Other requirements may apply.
Check with your airline or the embassy in the country of destination to see if a letter consent is required for kids who are traveling alone. Verify any documents that might be required during transit if connecting through a third-country.
Recap of the Travel ID for Kids
Depending on where you are going, there may be other steps that adults need to take. Domestic air travel for children is relatively easy when it comes to obtaining identification. When crossing the border, it’s much more complicated — particularly if a child is traveling alone or with just one parent.
While children don’t need to bring identification with them when they travel domestically, it is better to be safe and have as much documentation as possible. Airlines may also have different rules.
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