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Immigration Oversights Can Spoil Summer Travel Plans

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on May 20, 2013

As we enter the travel season with an improving economy, many parents are planning to take their children to exciting international venues, but could find themselves stymied at ports of departure or entry if they have not secured the proper special paperwork related to child travel.

Among other things, parents need a child’s passport, and if they are traveling without the other parent, a Permission to Travel Letter (“PTL”)  in form acceptable to the applicable U.S. and foreign authorities.

The custodial parent must have a written and notarized PTL executed by both legal parents or legal guardians to travel lawfully. Furthermore, if a custodial parent is planning to take a child on a cruise, they will need a PTL for shore excursions in each country they are visiting.

Minors traveling in the company of their sports teams or cultural study groups will similarly need proper documentation, which should be supplied to the travel group leader.

The officials at international border crossings and ports of entry are particularly scrutinizing these forms now that so many child abductions and abuse stories have been in the news, so parents and travel group leaders must be very attentive to PTL requirements. They can check with the U.S. State Department for assistance, but it is best to call the visa section of the relevant foreign embassies if there are any doubts about what is required at each destination.

Generally, a notarized PTL must include, at a minimum, the dates of authorized travel, the accompanying adult’s name, all relevant contact information, and a notarized signature or signatures, as required by relevant authority. Some countries may require supplemental paperwork, and the U.S. State Department Website can provide helpful information related to the requisites of other countries.

It is also wise to provide a traveling child and their responsible adult supervisor with medical authorization forms in case of illness or accident because some doctors or facilities may refuse to treat minors unless it is clear that the adult traveling with the child can be treated with parental or guardian consent, as applicable. Proof of medical insurance coverage may also be required by some medical care providers.

Parents should look at the U.S. State Department Website and Form 3053 well in advance of any travel trips this summer if they want to avoid having their trip unpleasantly interrupted.

If you are traveling to or from the U.S and have questions about required travel authorizations or paperwork required by U.S. immigration laws, please do not hesitate to contact our office at  (847) 564-0712 for an appointment to speak with an experienced and qualified immigration lawyer. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.