Template for guardian’s written consent for a minor traveling to the U.S. | professional service applying for an ESTA

ESTA Application > Template for guardian’s written consent for a minor traveling to the U.S. (how to fill out the form for overseas travel)

Template for guardian’s written consent for a minor traveling to the U.S.
(how to fill out the form for overseas travel)

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requests written consent for minors traveling to the U.S.

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requests written consent from both parents or the parent who is not accompanying the minor for minors (those less than 18 years of age) traveling to the U.S. alone or accompanied by only one parent. This written consent must be in English. Note that if written consent is not provided when requested by an immigration officer during screening for entry to the U.S., the minor may be detained until his or her situation and safety can be confirmed. Also, the guardian(s) should be aware that many countries currently demand written consent for minors to travel as a way of ensuring the minors’ safety. While this written consent is not required for travel to the U.S., entry may be refused if an official permit or birth certificate cannot be presented.

Source: United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website

Reasons to prepare written consent for travel by a minor

In recent years, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been paying even closer attention to protecting the safety of traveling minors. For this reason, minors are requested to present written consent from both parents or the guardian who is not accompanying the minor in all cases. Due to the increase in cases in recent years of either parent abducting children during or after child-custody disputes, and to counter cases such as abduction of children by international criminal organizations, CBP strongly recommends that travelers under 18 years of age who travel unaccompanied by their parents carry written consent from their parents. Written consent is recommended in the following cases.

When a minor travels to or stays in the U.S. alone for a specific purpose
When a minor travels with only one parent or stays with only one parent for a specific purpose
When a minor travels with an adult who is not his or her parent or stays with an adult who is not his or her parent for a specific purpose

Note: The written consent must be in English.

While there is no need to volunteer to submit written consent to travel during immigration screening, be prepared to be able to submit one if requested by the immigration official. Although written consent to travel is not an absolute requirement, the traveler may be detailed for purposes such as individual screening if he or she is unable to provide it when requested during immigration screening. Guardians are requested to bring along written consent to travel by checking the latest information from CBP or from the Guam Visitors Bureau for details.

Details: Excerpted from the Visa Handbook

When a minor less than 18 years of age will travel alone or with only one parent, written consent to travel (in English) from the parent (or guardian) not accompanying him or her is required. This also is required for group travel such as students’ school excursions or training programs. Check with a notary public concerning notarizing the document. If the minor has no legal guardian, due to reasons such as divorce or death, an official document certifying the reason why must be prepared. Please prepare and submit a family register, birth certificate, death certificate, etc. (all must be in English). While written consent is not necessarily required during immigration screening, note that if unable to submit it when requested by an immigration officer permission to enter the U.S. may be denied.

Note: For details, go to the website of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Preparing written consent for a minor to travel to the U.S.: Template and how to fill it out

So far, no cases have been announced in which a minor has been forcefully returned because he or she did not have written consent to travel, though in some cases such minors have been subjected to individual screening for purposes of their own safety and U.S. national security. None have been refused entry as a result. However, there have been cases as mentioned above, so preparation of written consent is recommended when a minor will travel to the U.S.

When is written consent from parents or guardian grandparents needed?

When a child less than 18 years of age will enter and stay in the U.S. with a grandparent without being accompanied by parents
When a child less than 18 years of age will travel to and stay in the U.S. alone
When a child less than 18 years of age will travel to and stay in the U.S. with a school or other institution (e.g., on school excursions)
When a child less than 18 years of age will travel to and stay in the U.S. with grandparents, aunt or uncle, or friend(s)

Preparing written consent form from parents or guardians is strongly recommended even when minors are traveling to the U.S. in groups, for purposes of school excursions, overseas training, or training programs organized by corporations or local governments. If the minor has no legal guardian due to death, divorce, or other reasons, U.S. CBP may demand submittal of documentation such as a family register, a birth certificate showing one parent’s name, or a parent’s death certificate. To avoid difficulties during immigration screening, it is recommended that minors traveling unaccompanied by (a) parent(s) or (a) guardian(s) to prepare written consent to travel.

Note: In all cases ①–④ above, the written consent must be in English.

What are the five points that need to be checked when a minor travels?

As international tours and airfares have become more affordable, international travel is becoming more commonplace. Many people are considering international travel for school excursions and graduation trips. However, a variety of preparations are needed before a minor travels overseas, including getting the written consent of his or her guardians and taking out insurance in case of any illness or injury. Here are five points considered to require particular care.

①Consent of a guardian: Preparing written consent

Please make sure to prepare written consent for the minor indicating parents’ or guardians’ approval for his or her traveling overseas, not just to the U.S. Although it is not necessarily the case that the destination country will require such written consent, if the traveler is unable to submit such written consent when requested during immigration screening he or she may be subject to individual screening and could be detained or refused entry. Please prepare written consent as soon as you have decided on travel by a minor unaccompanied by parents or guardians.

②Check the passport’s expiration date

Regardless of grade in school or years of education, those who are younger than 20 years of age are only eligible for holding five-year-passports, which expire five years after their issuance. When a minor travels overseas to study abroad or for other purposes, he or she should first check the date of issue and expiration date of his or her own passport. You may apply to renew a passport starting one year prior to its expiration date.

When a minor applies for a passport

There are two types of terms of validity for passports: five years and 10 years. When a minor younger than 20 years of age applies for a passport, he or she may receive only a passport valid for five years. A parent (father or mother) or guardian must sign for the signature of the minor’s legal representative on the passport application form. If he or she does not sign it, then the minor must obtain and submit written consent from a parent or guardian.

③Taking out international travel insurance

Taking out international travel insurance is recommended in order to avoid difficulties overseas and be prepared for any sudden illness or injury. However, a minor is not able to take out travel insurance by himself/herself in most cases, so contact insurance companies prior to traveling, with the consent of a parent or guardian. Since health insurance from one’s home country cannot be used overseas, in the event of a hospital visit may be billed a very large amount in most cases. Taking out travel insurance is recommended so that you have no worries concerning your safety, fees for medical care, and other matters in case of an injury or illness while you are overseas.

④Guardians should manage money for minors

It can be very dangerous to carry large amounts of money overseas. While credit cards are very convenient for adults, most minors do not carry credit cards, and there might be situations in which this feels inconvenient. In such cases, a prepaid card for international travel is very convenient and easy to use. Since these are used in the same way as debit cards, deposit the planned amount of money to be used during international travel into the appropriate bank account. It also makes it possible to be prepared for such cases as loss or theft, by the guardian transferring funds to the account if the balance runs out during travel. Guardians should discuss with minors matters concerning rules on using those cards prior to travel.

⑤Drinking and smoking

Laws on drinking and smoking vary by the country. To avoid problems when minors travel, and for safety’s sake, as well as for the health of the minor him or herself, following the laws of one’s home country is recommended. Even though there should be no legal difficulty if the laws of the destination country are followed, minors are still in the process of growing and they are not accustomed to alcohol and tobacco. It would be preferable for them to avoid drinking and smoking as much as possible.

Applying for travel for an unaccompanied minor

In recent years, numbers of minors traveling abroad alone during summer vacation and other lengthy holidays are increasing. On the other hand, please be aware that some U.S. states prohibit travel reservations and lodging by unaccompanied minors even with written consent from their guardians. Also, lodging by unaccompanied minors at hotels and other facilities is prohibited by law in the Continental U.S.

Plan in advance when a minor goes on unaccompanied international travel

While systems vary by country, in some cases you must request a written consent form from the embassy or submit a form notarized by a notary public. Also, some countries require issue of a certificate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, we recommend checking the websites of agencies such as individual embassies and government tourism agencies before your trip, since necessary documents and conditions may change or be updated at any time, depending on the circumstances and timing of travel. It may take some time to prepare the necessary documents and obtain approval for a minor to travel overseas unaccompanied by a guardian. However, please understand it is all for ensuring the safety of minors and for purposes of national security, and they are all necessary for minors and for their parents or guardians.

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