As a single parent who travels often, you would think I would be prepared for traveling with my little one. Camille is only 7 years old, and together we have traveled to at least 15 countries. Due to the nature of my work, I have traveled even further than she has; hence I should be knowledgeable about these sorts of things, but I am not. Because I have missed flights, yelled at customs and gate agents due to lack of preparation, I will share my travel mishaps with you.
But first, documentation, documentation, documentation! I cannot stress enough that you need the appropriate documents that your child is actually yours. And that you have the right to take him/her outside of the United States from both the state and the other parent.
When we moved to Texas, I was excited about our proximity to Mexico and Belize, so I decided that 2016 was going to be the year we checked those countries off our list. So, we booked a flight to Cancun and Belize City right away. Like I have done in the past, I start planning activities 3-weeks to our departure date. With our trip to Mexico, the boyfriend flew with us, so we magically had no issues with customs and immigration in the United States and in Mexico.
So, I didn’t think much of it when we were headed to Belize, however this time, the boyfriend was flying directly to Belize from Detroit and we were flying IAH to BZE. Naturally, we were not on the same flight. At the IAH airport, we were told we weren’t flying that day, since we didn’t have a notarized letter from her Dad granting permission.
I started my spill about having joint custody, full custody, college savings, life insurance, etc…, but as you can imagine no one cared. I was UPSET. There were dozens of people that day who did not fly out, even those making a connecting flights for similar reasons. So, I decided to calm down and think of a logical way out of the situation. I immediately booked a flight, got on the next plane to meet her Dad who graciously prepared all the necessary documentation. I flew back that same evening just in time for the next flight the following morning. Belize is certainly one of the few countries who are very strict about these letters due to child trafficking.
Seriously, 2016 was a very weird travel year for us. It may have to do with my name change following my divorce. Now that my daughter and I no longer share the same last name, we get all the crazies at customs/immigration. We have traveled to Nigeria multiple times with no problems because we both have a Nigerian passport and a U.S passport. This holiday, on our way out, they wanted to see a birth certificate which I did NOT have with me. Luckily I had my old passport (with a matching last name to Camille’s),and that was sufficient. Guys, I am tired of this mess, so I have decided to put together a list of things you need to get through the airport hitch-free as a single parent traveling with a minor.
Documentation requirements become more complicated when one parent or guardian is traveling alone with a minor. In general, you need
1. A passport with the right travel visa if necessary;
3. The child’s birth certificate.
4. Copy of immunization records (some countries require yellow fever, tuberculosis vaccinations depending on where you are transiting or traveling to)
5. Visit the countries travel website for additional requirements