Whether you’re considering taking your child on a cruise through the Caribbean, heading down to Mexico for some summer sun, or jetting off to Europe for vacation, international travel is becoming increasingly common in American families.  If you are divorced or never married your child’s other parent then acquiring the paperwork necessary to travel internationally with your child may prove to be a difficult task. Below are some brief reminders regarding what you’ll need to ensure smooth sailing on your journey.

If you are traveling with your child and your child is under 16 years of age there are a number of requirements necessary to obtain a passport which includes the following:  

  1. You must apply in person, with your child, for the passport. Preferably both parents should be present at the time of application. If both parents cannot be present, be sure you have the other parent fill out the Statement of Consent Form available through the following link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/forms.html
  2. You must bring a certified copy, or original, of your child’s U.S. birth certificate; U.S. consular report of birth abroad; or a certificate of U.S. citizenship for your child.
  3. You must also be able to provide proof of the parental relationship between you and your child. This can be evidenced by the child’s birth certificate, an order of adoption, an Order in a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship or a Final Decree of Divorce.
  4. Parent’s photo ID and a photocopy of the same.
  5. A passport photo of the child.
  6. The required fee which varies depending on whether you are purchasing a Passport Book, Passport Card, or both.

See: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/under-16.html

A common obstacle in procuring a passport for a child is getting both parents to consent to the application. If you know in advance that you will have difficulty with this be sure your attorney includes passport provisions in the final order regarding your child. Depending on the situation, this provision may include language that you have the sole right and authority to apply for a passport for your child, with or without the other parent’s consent. The order may also include language requiring the other parent to consent to the application within a certain period of time, absent good cause for withholding consent. As long as you have language governing how to handle the application for a passport in your order then you should be able to enforce the terms of the order against the other parent if he or she is being non-compliant with your requests without just cause.

Notably, if your child is over 16 years old, the requirements to obtain a U.S. passport vary slightly.  While the majority of the requirements are the same, such as providing proof of U.S. citizenship, the required fees, a passport photo, etc., there is one significant difference which is that only one parent’s consent is required at the time of the application if the child is over 16 years of age. Thus, if your child has their own current ID, he or she may apply for a passport but must also provide proof that at least one parent knows they are applying for a passport, either by having that parent appear in person or having that parent sign a Statement of Consent and provide proof of the parent’s identification at the time of the application.

See: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/16-17.html

Travel Consent Letter

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Department of State strongly recommend that unless a child is accompanied by both parents, the adult traveling with the child should carry a parental consent form for any international travel. There is no official letter or form, but information regarding this letter is listed at the following link:


If your child’s parent is being difficult regarding your requests to apply for a passport for the child and/or travel internationally refer to the order governing your respective rights and responsibilities in relation to the child and/or seek the guidance of a family law attorney in your area.

Angela Stout

Angela A. Stout was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2007. Ms. Stout has practiced law since 2007, with an emphasis in representing clients in family law matters. She earned her Juris Doctorate degree from South Texas College of Law in May of 2007. Ms. Stout became Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in December of 2015. The Texas Board of Legal Specialization is a specialized group of attorneys that must obtain exceptional experience in a specific area of law, pass a comprehensive exam, and complete ongoing continuing legal education in that specialized area. Additionally, Ms. Stout is certified as a mediator by the A.A. White Dispute Resolution Center.


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