For single (divorced, widowed, or simply married, but solo) parents, grandparents, or family friends taking children on a vacation, there is an often overlooked planning step that can end a vacation before it begins the permission letter.

Airlines and immigration agents can deny minor children initial boarding or entry to foreign countries without proper proof of identification and citizenship and a permission letter from absent or non-custodial parents.

According to Department of State Publication 10542: "With the number of international child custody cases on the rise, several countries have instituted passport requirements to help prevent child abductions. For example, Mexico has a law that requires a child traveling alone, or with only one parent, or in someone else's custody, to carry written, notarized consent from the absent parent or parents. "

Proof of identification and citizenship is relatively simple to obtain­ a passport. The permission letter is a bit more vexing since most people aren't aware of the necessity to have it, let alone what it should include.

An attorney could prepare a formal affidavit, but a simple letter-style document is adequate as long as it is signed before a notary duly authorized to administer oaths. To be acceptable, it should include specific details about the trip, the custodial adult(s), and the child(ren). While no one wants to think about medical emergencies while on vacation, it is also wise to include consent for the adult to authorize emergency treatment for the child in case the need should arise.

Some parents, particularly mothers who don't share the same last name as their children, take no chances and also carry a copy of their divorce decree or, in the case of widows, a death certificate.

After going to all the 'trouble' to secure proper documentation, it could turn out that no one even asks for it. Why did you bother? Because if you hadn't, the possibility exists that your plane may have taken off without you and your very disappointed family.

Here is a sample parental consent letter that can be modified for individual purposes and printed:



I (we):______________________________________________________________

authorize my/our minor child(ren):___________________________________________

to travel to:_________________________________ on:_________________________

aboard Airline/Flight Number:________________________________________

and/resort :_____________________________________________ with:

____________________________________________________________. Their expected

date of return is _______________________.

In addition, I (we) authorize:______________________________________ to consent

to any necessary routine or emergency medical treatment during the aforementioned trip.

Signed:_________________________________ (Parent)

Signed:_________________________________ (Parent)




Sworn to and signed before me, a Notary Public,

this _______ day of _______________, 20____

Notary Public Signature and Seal