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Documents Needed For Traveling With Grandchildren

FAQs About Passports And More


Germany, Munich, Bavaria, Senior woman and girl smiling beside window in economy class airliner.

Air travel is less stressful when you know you have the proper documents.

Photo © Westend61 | Brand X Pictures | Getty Images

In this increasingly complex world, it's easy to overlook something vital while traveling. When traveling with grandchildren, you will want everything to go smoothly. While you can pick up items that you forgot to pack, if you forget vital papers, you may get into considerable difficulty. These travel tips for grandparents in the United States will ensure that you have the documents you need to avoid any difficulty when traveling with your grandchildren.

What documents do I need to travel with my grandchildren?

Let's start with the basics:

  • A notarized letter from the parents giving permission for medical care.
  • Copies of the grandchildren's insurance cards. Don't forget prescription cards, cards for dental insurance and secondary insurance cards if applicable.

What if we are leaving the country?

If you are traveling in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or many areas of the Caribbean, your grandchildren 15 and under can travel using certified copies of their birth certificates instead of a passport. For more information, learn about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

What if we are traveling somewhere not covered by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?

Even small children and infants need a passport for air travel overseas. Be sure to check the U.S. Department of State's website for country-specific information.

What else do we need if traveling abroad?

Some travel authorities suggest that you obtain a limited power of attorney if traveling abroad with grandchildren. At least you should have documentation showing that you are traveling with your grandchildren with parental permission. There is no single standardized form for this purpose, but it's easy to create your own form. Have the form notarized. If a grandchild's parents are divorced, it is especially important that documents are signed by both parents, as sometimes children are transported across borders during custody disputes.

Should the grandchildren have passports if we are not planning to travel abroad?

The best answer to this question is, "Why not?" In this post-Homeland Security world, a fair amount of effort is required to keep up with what is acceptable. Just ask the thousands of travelers who had to ditch their cosmetics because they were too large or not in the proper type of plastic bag! Passports generally seem to make travel easier, even when they are not required. Children can no longer be added to a parent's passport, as was once allowed. So why not get them passports of their own. A U.S. passport is the best form of identification in the world. Of course, your grandchildren deserve the best!

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