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Any experiences? (Solo Parent travelling with Minor Child)

My husband is staying home while our 6 year old son and I galavant around Europe for just shy of a month. I was reading about people being questioned about custody when travelling with just one parent, what are your experiences? I had read about getting a notarized letter authorizing me to take our son out of the country, but is that really necessary?

Additionally, I thought about adding my brother (who lives in Luxembourg and we will be spending 90% of our time with) and my friend in Athens (the other 10% of the time) as authorized guardians as well, including authorizing them to provide medical care and/or transport him back to the states in my absence. I always tend to think worse case scenarios and in this case, I was thinking if something should happen to me that they would have less issues getting my son back home.

Has anyone experienced being questioned? Is this something stupid I'm worrying about unnecessarily? It's ok, be honest, I know I have a tendency to over-worry about stuff sometimes.

Posted by
219 posts

I have traveled multiple times with my minor daughters (albeit older than your son). We have different last names. I do travel with an affidavit signed and notarized by their father and myself. We have crossed a lot of international borders in Europe (in and out of the EU) and not been asked for it. I also travel with copies of their birth certificates as it shows me as a parent. I have been asked to produce those when entering the UK, but nowhere else. They did not want to see the notarized statement. Regardless, I will continue to take the statement with me as long as they are minors. I prefer to be prepared. I found the sample for the statement on the State Dept. website.

I don't have any experience giving power to another for medical or health reasons, so I cannot comment on that.

Posted by
157 posts

Granted this was not with a parent, but my in-laws flew home with my son this summer. They all have the same last name, but were they questioned at LHR and their notarized letter was carefully scrutinized. I definitely think it’s a good idea to have a notarized letter.

Posted by
2403 posts

My daughter has been questioned when flying solo with her son. But she was able to provide the notarized document. You may or may not find yourself in a similar situation. But since the notarized letter is easy and inexpensive to get, why not just get it and save any future anxiety?

Posted by
2546 posts

I was once traveling with my minor children (then 17 and 9) to Japan (so admittedly not Europe) and when I checked in at SFO the airline representative asked for a letter from their father. I did not have one. I explained that we were heading to Japan to meet up with their father and that we are not divorced. I had meant to get a letter but my husband forgot to do it before he left and then we figured that it would not be a problem. Wrong! The agent checked us in and then held our passports and boarding passes. Luckily, I persuaded a supervisor to agree to accept a letter from him and a copy of his license and we were able to reach him and get him to quickly write a letter, copy his license and e-mail everything directly to the supervisor. As an aside, good thing I like to get to the airport ridiculously early. Also, we have traveled through Europe with our niece (same last name) and when she was a minor we were asked for the notarized letter when we were entering the UK and France and exiting from JFK or Newark whenever an agent realized that she is not our child. Her parents are divorced so we had letters from both. Full disclosure: I have never been asked for a letter when flying alone with my children to Europe and I have done that twice but never into Heathrow. When we travel to London, the immigration agents ask a ton of questions and I would not be surprised if they asked for the letter from a parent traveling solo. In light of my experiences, I strongly recommend having the letter and do not think that you are over-worrying. You may not need it but it's cheap insurance. Getting a letter notarized costs about $20. With the peace of mind of having the letter, you can gallivant to your heart's content.

Posted by
703 posts

The notarized letter and birth certificate are kind not that much trouble to get. You may well not be challenged but if you are, and all you have is empty pockets you can be in for something you will never forget, Also remember that as unpleasant as it may be for you, it will be far more traumatizing for you son if something goes awry.

Posted by
3904 posts

We took our nieces abroad with us a couple of years ago and when returning to Heathrow we were told that we should have a notarisation letter from their parents. They allowed us in eventually, it was too much effort to do anything else.

Posted by
11389 posts

I have travelled solo to europe , one on one trips, with two of my kids.. and hubby took the other one.. so three trips in total. First son was 13,, next year with second son when he turned 13, then my daughter when she was 11.

We each carried a notarized letter from other parent . Its like 40 bucks to get one.. its worth it for peace of mind. No one asked for it.. but still its best to have it..

My new hubby and I have traveled with his son ( age 11 ) and we bring a notarized letter from his mom.

Posted by
2275 posts

If you have a bank that you use for your mortgage or other needs, they will often notarize a letter for free. You can find examples online, copy with your info, print, and bring to the bank. No lawyer or anything, just a document and notary. Easy, free, and under 30 minutes work to prevent all sorts of delays or worst case not being allowed to enter a country. I would certainly get it along with a birth certificate.

I might also get a letter allowing your brother and friend to authorize medical care. They don’t need to be guardians, just allowed to make medical decisions if needed. I have this letter for my parents and sister when they watch my kids for more than one night. Only needed it once, for an ear infection while I was away for a week, but the doctor wouldn’t give antibiotics without the letter. Same idea as the other letter - find online, copy, print, notary.

Posted by
2525 posts

From the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child's other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups*, a note signed by both parents) stating "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission."

From my perspective, I'd create the travel authorization document for one parent traveling with a minor child and have it notarized, which may be free with your local financial institution (like mine). Create a separate form for your brother and friend. As for medical authorization...check with your attorney, but you'll surely need, at minimum, a document authorizing such.

Posted by
11152 posts

The answer to this is the same as with other similar things. There are four possibilities; which are the ones you prefer?

1) You get the letter and need to show it.
2) You get the letter, and never need to show it.
3) You don't get the letter, and need to show it.
4) You don't get the letter, and never need to show it.

For me, options 1 and 2 are acceptable, and option 3 is not. Hoping for option 4 is too high a risk for me to take.

Your answers may be different.

I also agree that while you're getting the permission for travel, you should also get permission to authorize medical treatment. If there is an emergency, that's not the time you'll be wanting to worry about such things.

Posted by
2403 posts

Yeah. it's better to bring a lot of adults in a trip to serve as
guardians for the kids but that could be a burden to them also. Maybe
try some gps tracking device buddy! they are pretty popular these days
and will surely help you as well

And exactly how will a tracking device provide emergency medical care or permit emergency custody of the child if the parent is incapacitated? That is what a guardian is for.

Interesting that every one of your posts, since you joined, has been for the purpose of touting tracking devices. You wouldnt be in sales by any chance, would you?