Child travel documents: what documents does my child need to fly

Due to the abundance of information available, it can be difficult to understand what kind of documents you need for your child. To travel with your child, you may not even need to pack anything. On the other hand, if you do not have the proper identification or child travel documents, your trip may be canceled, and you and your family may be forced to return home in dismay from the airport. We’ll break it all down for you so you know exactly what you’ll need and won’t need the next time you fly with a young child.

Child travel documents for domestic flights

While traveling domestically, your youngster usually won’t require any additional identification at all. Only in very limited circumstances will you need to bring any kind of supporting documents. These unique circumstances are typically determined by age.

If you’re traveling with a newborn, you may need to bring a note from your doctor stating that your child is healthy and that flying is safe for them. However, because the required documentation varies, it’s much better to ask a carrier first.

Age: 0 – 2 years old

In case your baby is not a newborn but under 2, you will have to prove that your child is not 2 years old, as most air companies allow them to fly for free as a lap child. Unless your child has a passport, you can bring a copy of the birth certificate.

Age: 2 – 18 years old

Once your children turn 2, they will be required to pay full airfare. If they are traveling with an adult, minors under the age of 18 will simply require a boarding card to get through security.

However, if your child is traveling alone, you’ll have to bring some sort of documents. So, before the flight, you should contact your carrier in order to find out what kind of documents you will need. In most cases, when your child is traveling alone, he or she will be required to have a notarized parental consent form.

Child travel documents for international flights

Regardless of your age, you must show your passport at check-in, the TSA security checkpoint, and when you arrive at your destination if you are flying to a different country.

passport child travel documents
The passport: one of the most important child travel documents for flying


Even if you have a month-old baby, you’ll need a passport. Don’t have a passport yet? Then check out how to take your baby’s passport photo, so it meets all the baby passport photo requirements.

When you know how to get a passport for your baby, you no longer have difficulties with traveling abroad. However, below you can find the basic tips for passport photos:

  • The image must have been taken no more than 6 months ago
  • The picture must be in color, crystal clear, sharp, and focused
  • The baby’s head shouldn’t be inclined, and the picture shows both ears and the chin
  • Despite babies’ right to have their mouths open, children’s mouths should generally remain closed
  • There shouldn’t be any shadows on the baby’s face or in the background.

Apply for your child’s new passport several weeks before you require it, and then make a copy of it. You can also get a less expensive passport card, which entitles holders to land travel within the United States, as well as to Canada, Mexico, and some Caribbean nations and territories.


Your infant will need to apply for a visa if your destination requires one. As both of these things require time, you should apply for them in advance. However, if you need to go as soon as possible, you may obtain a passport and visa expedited for an extra cost.

Global entry

You probably use TSA PreCheck or Global Entry if you travel frequently, whether for work or pleasure. You might assume that your status — especially if both parents in your party have status — automatically applies to your children if you have participated in either of these programs.

Your children do not inherit the Global Entry status you currently hold. However, because there is no minimum age requirement, your child can sign up for a Global Entry membership. Children must go through the same processes as their parents, including the application, payment, and in-person interview. The only special requirement is that, if your child is younger than 18, you must be present during their in-person interview. Prior to them enrolling in the program, you must also give your consent as their parents.

kid travel documents flying with 1 parent
Kid travel documents for flying with 1 parent on vacation

Flight with 1 parent

You will need to submit some additional permission forms if you intend to take your child on a trip abroad while one or both of the parents are not going. The criteria could vary depending on the airline and the nation you’ll be going to (and perhaps back from).

The most crucial document will be a notarized parental consent form that is signed by both parents, along with a copy of the traveling parent’s passport or other form of government-issued identification.

The consent form must be signed by the parent who is still alive or the child’s legal guardian, and a copy of the accompanied by a copy of the late spouse’s death certificate if the child has a deceased parent.

The only exception is if the parent can demonstrate that they have sole custody, in which case you can be asked to show a copy of the custody arrangement that both parents have signed.

child travel consent form
Kid travel documents: the child travel consent form for unaccompanied minor

Child travel consent form

A kid travel consent form is a document that certifies the child has permission to travel by themselves. It can also be necessary for a youngster traveling alone to have a consent letter that has been signed by both parents.

The consent form must be signed by the parent who is still alive or the child’s legal guardian, and a copy of the deceased parent’s death certificate must also be included. You might only need to do this for international trips.

Age: 5 – 14 years old

Children between the ages of 5 and 14 are not needed to present ID at check-in, although it is usually recommended that they do so while traveling. Provide a copy of your child’s passport if they already have one, so they have it in case of an emergency.

Age: 15 – 17 years old

Children between the ages of 15 and 17 may be asked to present identification, such as one of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Company ID
  • Credit card
  • Driver’s license
  • Learners permit
  • Library card
  • Organization ID (athletics club, theater group, etc.)
  • Passport
  • Passport card
  • Proof of auto insurance in the passenger’s name
  • School ID
  • Social Security card.

Age: 18 years old

Your child must legally possess a current, U.S. federal, or state-issued photo ID once they are 18 years old. For travel to or from a U.S. territory, the identity must include a legible photo, date of birth, gender, expiration date, and a tamper-resistant feature. Documents that have expired won’t be accepted.

Final words

You won’t have to worry about anything if you have the proper identification and papers. The good news is that it’s probably much simpler than you first thought to obtain all that identification and documents. If you have any doubts, it’s always a good idea to contact your carrier for more information about the necessary child travel documents for flying.

About the author

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur stands out as a seasoned authority in European travel, weaving her rich Romanian heritage into the fabric of her life in the picturesque South of France. At the helm of The Travel Bunny blog, she dedicates herself to demystifying travel across Europe, offering a treasure trove of cost-effective strategies and insights. Her expertise is not just limited to the wanderlust-driven adult but extends comprehensively to the youngest globe-trotters. Mirela’s tailored advice on child travel documents is grounded in her vast experience, ensuring that family adventures commence with ease and assurance.

With an unwavering commitment to making travel accessible to all, Mirela has carved out a niche as a local travel connoisseur, crafting unparalleled free travel guides that serve as a compass for navigating the complexities of family travel. Her problem-solving acumen is particularly evident as she elucidates the essentials of child travel documentation, ensuring that parents are equipped with the knowledge to prepare their children for flying. Her blog is not just a resource but a beacon for families, guiding them through the necessary preparations with the finesse of a wannabe coffee guru who knows the perfect blend for an unforgettable journey.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

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