Traveling out of the country with a child who is not your own.

So…a couple of years ago, my family went to an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. At the time, the resort was called Dreams. We loved it. In fact, we loved it so much that we went back a few months ago. And now we’re going back again!

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

This time, we’re bringing my niece with us. We’re all super excited, but I have to say, it’s a little complicated. In order to travel out of the country with a child who is not your own, there are a few important steps you need to take. In case you’re planning on taking a similar trip, here’s what we’ve learned so far. Feel free to chime in if you have anything to add!

1. Get notarized letters of consent

You need to provide a notarized written consent letter from both parents. The letter should look something like this (create your own based on the information you can provide):

To whom it may concern,

I authorize FULL NAME OF CHILD to travel with YOUR NAME(S) during the dates of YOUR DATES to YOUR DESTINATION.

Flight information is as follows:

Date of Departure

Flight: Airline and Flight Number

Departs: City on Date and Time

Arrives: City on Sate and Time


Date of Arrival

Flight: Airline and Flight Number

Departs: City on Date and Time

Arrives: City on Sate and Time


During this time, if there is a medical emergency, I authorize treatment for FULL NAME OF CHILD

Should there be any questions, please contact Your name and Contact Info.


Signed: _________________________________________                        _________________

Name, parent                                                        date


Signature of Notary:

Notary Registration Number:


Affix Notary Seal here:

2. Get copies of the child’s parent’s driver’s licenses

Just in case. More info is better here.

3. Get a copy of the child’s health insurance card.

Again, just in case.

4. Make sure the child has a passport.

If not, make sure she applies for a passport with plenty of time to spare before the trip.

5. Take a look at current country information.

This actually was incredibly unhelpful for me, but it might help you? Take a look here.

Have you ever been outside the country with a child who was not your own? How did it go?


  1. Similar rules happen even if it’s your own child if you don’t have both parents with you. When I went to Canada with my son, because hisom wasn’t with us, I needed a notarized letter signed by her saying it was OK that I was taking him out if the country. This is to prevent kidnapping.

  2. If you are a father, this applies to your own children as well. This is only necessary in the US. Other countries don’t assume you may have kidnapped your own children. Fortunately we are aware of this issue and I always bring a notarized document written by my wife as well as her passport when I travel abroad with my children. My wife NEVER encounter this issue entering or departing the US alone with the kids.

  3. What if your flights are changed?

  4. My sister had to do something similar when we took a cruise to Mexico, even though she has full custody of her daughter. It’s a pain and takes extra time, but if it can prevent even one parent heartbreak we’ll gladly go through the steps.

  5. I’ve always taken a letter from my husband when traveling outside of the country with my kids. Nobody has ever looked at it or asked for it! Maybe because like above said, I’m female.

  6. Sounds like it shouldn’t be complicated but I’m sure it can be, depending on the situation. Hope your niece has loads of fun w/her cousins!

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