What documents does a minor need to fly alone?

May 31, 2022


What does a minor need to fly? Well, the standard ruleset is that minors (under the age of 18 categories) are not required by law to carry or to present the photo-id when they travel by domestic flights (Intra-States) as per TSA (Transportation and Security Administration, a Government Agency) norms. 

The definition of minor children and minor adults across the US (in most of the States) is that anyone who has not attained 18 years of age is classified as a minor. Below 5 years come under one category and 5 to 14 come in the second category and 15 to 17 come under the third category.

The third category is minor adults. 18 and above are categorized as adults. However, the first two categories, that are below 15 years are not allowed to travel unaccompanied in both domestic and international travel without proper documentation like a child travel consent form duly filled and notarized by authorized personnel for legal purposes. (1) 

However, every person, including minors and even infants needs to have and present a valid passport for international flights. 

What does a minor need to fly? 

When it comes to the question, “what does a minor need to fly?” – there are lots of category definitions and scenarios too; this may be a little confusing for the parents and/or guardians to understand the rulesets concise when they do travel plans with their children. (2) 

It is always a wise idea to check with airlines before they plan their itinerary. However, in this blog, let us make an attempt to illustrate as many scenarios to clear the doubts of what-to-do and what-not-to-do.

What does a minor need to fly – Travel by International Flights 

In this scenario with regard to ‘what does a minor need to fly’ – it is straightforward. No age and no ifs-and-buts. Any person including the infant needs to have a passport and a passport needs to be presented during check-in.  

If the place where one visits requires a visa, then all the passengers including the infant baby need to have a visa endorsed by the destination country/port. 

In case a minor child is traveling with one of his/her parents, then the accompanied parent must provide additional permission forms. This requirement could be a little different based on the airline one travels and the destination country. 

However, the very important document that one needs to carry is the child travel consent form which is signed by both the parents (the parent who accompanies the child and the non-traveling parent) and this travel consent form for minors should be notarized too. The traveling parent must provide a copy of the non-traveling parent’s valid photo-id (preferably the passport copy).

What does a minor need to fly – Travel by Domestic Airlines (Intra-State)

In this scenario, it is not as straightforward as international travel. Though the ruleset according to TSA (Travel and Security Administration) says that the minor child does not need to carry or produce an identification proof, the scenarios could be different according to situations and airlines.

There could be circumstances where a photo ID or other document may be required for the minor child to check in. (3) 

On a concluding note… 

To simplify, to answer ‘what does a minor need to fly’, let us analyze the scenarios according to the age of the minor child and accompanying adult.

1. A newborn child, who is just under 2 weeks born, may require a certificate from the physician that the infant is fit enough to fly. This certificate may be asked for by the airlines and some airlines would send the certificate to the physician to fill out online. 

2. Once the infant is about 2 weeks old, then another question could crop up. At below 2 years, children can fly free (as a “lap-child”) on domestic airlines. If the parent would like to take advantage of the free travel of their child, then the parent needs to carry a document proving that the child is less than 2 years old. 

3. When the child is above 2 years, then parents need to pay the full airfare for their children who are above 2 years. There is no documentary proof required for this category of children as long as they travel along with both their parents. Minor children don’t need to carry and/or produce id-cards and they will only have their boarding pass to board the plane. However, it is recommended for the parents to carry a photocopy (hard paper copy) or an image stored in their smartphone of their children’s id-proof.

The other scenario could be of the category that the minor children are traveling alone without any accompanied adults. In this scenario, the requirement could become a little complicated and may vary between airlines. However, there are a few standards that most airlines follow which are detailed below.

1. A Travel Consent Form for the child would be the authorization from both the parents that the child has been approved to travel alone. In the case of a deceased parent, the living parent/guardian needs to sign with the attached copy of the deceased spouse’s death certificate. This Consent Form is usually provided by the airline.

2. For Children who are in the age group of 5 to 14, it would be wiser and safer that they carry a copy (not the original) of their ID or passport copy. This could be used in case of any emergency requirement and contingency measures.

3. Minors in the age group of 15 to 17 (Adult minors) when they travel alone, may need to carry identification proof of their age. 

Contact us to know more 

If you have more questions about ‘what does a minor need to fly’ – contact us to know more. 

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