How to Travel with Your Kids if You Have Different Surnames

In today’s world, there are so many moms or dads that have different surnames from their child.  There are numerous reasons for this, but many of them include getting married or remarried after the child was born or the mom was never married to the baby’s father and the child has his last name.  There is nothing wrong with your kids having a different surname than you, but you may run into a few issues when it comes time to travel with them.  

It used to be that you could board an airplane or train or bus with any child and no questions would be asked.  However, nowadays, after an overwhelming amount of child abductions and child smuggling cases, everyone is erring on the side of caution.  For that reason, you are going to need to be prepared whenever you want to travel with your kids if they have a different surname than you.  

The requirements for traveling with kids who have different surnames than you are different when you travel domestically compared to internationally, but you will still need to be prepared for any type of scenario.  

What You May Need to Travel Domestically

Currently, there are no requirements for any child under the age of eighteen to show identification to TSA members when they are flying within the United States.  However, some airlines will require identification, especially if those minors are traveling with someone who has a different last name from them. It is important that you take the time to check with the airline that you are flying with to see if you need to bring your child’s identification with you.  

How to Travel with Your Kids if You Have Different Surnames

A copy of a birth certificate is usually enough, as it acts as proof of age, identification, and shows that you are in fact their parent.  Children who are old enough to have identification from the Department of Motor Vehicles, whether a driver’s license or permit, can use that.  But that may not suffice if the question is whether or not they can travel with you since they have a different last name.  

There is no need to have a consent form from the other parent when you are traveling domestically with your child, but it can come in handy on occasion.  Therefore, most professionals recommend that you have a consent form notarized, so that airline personnel know that you have permission to fly with your child.  

What You May Need to Travel Internationally

There are more identification requirements involved when you are flying internationally with children and this will be especially true if your child has a different surname than you do.  Everyone needs a passport to travel internationally, and while that should be enough to allow you to travel with them, that is often not the case.  

Travel with Your Kids if You Have Different Surnames

Despite the fact that you needed to be there when your child applied for their passport, the passport agents are not aware of that.  Therefore, you need to make sure that you take your child’s birth certificate with you, or another form of identification, that states that you are their parent.  

You will also need a consent form from their other parent if you are traveling alone with them.  There is not an official consent form that needs to be used, but whichever one you decide to have filled out should be notarized.  

Special Circumstances

There are going to be times when a birth certificate is not going to be helpful for traveling with your children.  Those times usually occur when you have adopted a child or are the legal guardian of a child. While these children are still yours, a birth certificate is not going to be enough to show someone that you are related to them.  When that happens, you will need to make sure that you take any adoption certificates or legal guardianship paperwork with you when you want to fly with them.  

Of course, your name may have changed from what is listed on a birth certificate, adoption certificate, or legal guardianship paperwork.  If that has happened, you will need to supply proof of your change in name, which is usually a marriage certificate or court order.   

Do not be afraid to travel with your kids just because they have a different surname than you do!  Simply be prepared to answer a few extra questions and provide documentation that they are legally yours and that you can travel with them to the destinations that you want to go to.  Once you do that, you will all be on your way to making memories that will last a lifetime.  

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