How to Navigate the US Immigration Process

If you’re ready to visit another country with your child, you must know the basic requirements of international travel. For example, when you’ll likely need to prepare a travel consent form. In this guide, we look at the core requirements for minors going abroad, either alone or with their family

Always Research Your Destination

Every country is different, with some requiring children (and adults) to have a visa before they’re able to enter. Go to the government website of your destination and any transit countries. Here, you can read their current guidance for young travelers.

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If you require more detailed information, speak to the destination’s US embassy. They can grant you immediate peace of mind about your child’s upcoming journey abroad. This even highlights the specific documents, vaccinations, and more that they’re likely to need.

While not a formal requirement, it also helps to look up local customs and social norms that may affect your child. For example, in Japan, your children being loud in public (or even speaking on public transport) might appear disrespectful.

The Importance of Travel Documents

You’ll almost always require a passport when going abroad. The only exceptions are for closed-loop cruises that start and end in the US, and American territories such as Samoa. Some countries (mainly in Europe) require at least three months left on your passports — whilst others (mostly in Asia and Africa) ask for six.

Even newborns need a passport in order to enter other countries. Children under 16 also need to renew their passports every five years, instead of the usual ten. Always stay on top of the expiration date, especially since it can take weeks or even months to renew a passport.

Child travel consent forms might be necessary if your child is traveling alone, or with somebody other than their parents. These documents must offer full details of your child’s journey. This will include their itinerary and accommodation plans, as well as their relationship with the adult they are traveling with.

Health and Safety Requirements For Children Traveling Abroad

Some countries require certain vaccinations for visitors of all ages. For example, if you and your family go to Ghana, you all need a yellow fever shot. If you have a child below nine months old, however, they cannot get the vaccination but are still able to travel.

Depending on the destination, you’ll need to show copies of your family’s vaccination cards. You should look into the country’s recommended vaccines — not just the mandatory ones. This is especially helpful for getting peace of mind if it’s your child’s first time in the country.

If your child has any prescription medications, take enough for your trip, and make sure it’s okay to bring into the country. Travel insurance is yet another key medical consideration. Family plans are usually more cost-effective; if this doesn’t work out, kids still often get cheaper coverage.

Getting a Power of Attorney For Your Child

A power of attorney document is essential if your child is traveling with another adult. This lets a temporary guardian make major (typically medical) decisions for your child’s benefit when you’re not reachable. While this isn’t mandatory for your child, a POA could still save their life.

Even if your child will be with another family member, medical consent generally only recognizes a parent’s authority. This means a POA is necessary to make sure they get quality care during a crisis. Though the POA form is an American document, it’s valid in at least 126 territories.

If your child is visiting a country where English isn’t standard, translate the POA form before the trip. This makes it easier for their temporary guardian to explain the situation to local authorities, saving even more time. Otherwise, their rights as an attorney-in-fact might be unclear.

Write Down Emergency Contacts

Whether you’re about to start your journey or already at your destination, keep records of every important contact. This includes local emergency services or the nearest American consulate. If your child, for example, loses their passport, the embassy can help. This makes sure your entire family is able to get home; if you’re lucky, you’ll even make your original flight.

Some families on vacation keep a card with every useful local phone number. If you also choose to do this, give a copy to your children. While you might not plan to let them out of your sight, it’s entirely possible they’ll wander off. If this happens, they can easily get back in touch or get help if they need it.


There is a lot of planning involved when traveling to another country, especially with a child. The documents you bring, for example, will decide if you can even get into the destination. By taking note of these requirements, you can make sure the whole family has a great trip.

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