Last week, I wrote about what one needed to do in order to travel with a minor, specifically when traveling with a minor and only one parent (or as a guardian). Since my last article, I have gone through a gruesome week filled with uncertainty, frustration, and stress.
Remember when I said I had submitted the required passport form without my ex-husband’s signature, and instead filled out the “special circumstance” section of the form? Well, it was rejected.
It didn’t matter that my ex lives in Honduras. It didn’t matter that the telephone number I noted on the form as having for him is disconnected (as I indicated on the form). They didn’t care. Reason? Because I noted that I had a telephone number for my ex…yes, the same one that doesn’t work.
For these government workers who are taught to think inside the box for the benefit of all children and parents in our country, stated that, “As long as I have a method of contact, and I indicated on the form that I did, I must try to contact…otherwise go to court in search of full custody”.
By some weird and random miracle I was able to contact my ex…and even got a signature on the consent letter, got him to send me copies of his ID, and notarized. But I soon learned that the US Dept. won’t accept any ol’ letter…it has to be on their form. Yes, the DS 3053 form. Though the signed, notarized letter had all I would have needed for the form, they would not have it. It needed to be on the form. Period.
So, again, the begging, and signing, and notarizing. All the while the travel date getting closer and closer.
I managed to get all the required consents, on the stupid yellow form. Until I received another call.
“We need proof of your name change.”
“But I submitted my marriage certificate when I initially submitted records for my son’s passport renewal and you said you didn’t need it and returned it.”
“Yes, but we need it now.”
Another run to the passport expediting services office…only 2 days till the trip.
I was stressing. My friends told me to just go on my trip and enjoy it. That I could take my son, or any of my kids, some other time.
But I couldn’t let it go. It became a matter of principal for me. Why should I, or my son for that matter, have to pay because of the inefficiency of a government agency? Or because he is from divorced parents?
Finally, tonight, at 6:00PM, the night before we leave for our trip, I got his passport. They kept the original notarized letters of consent (even the one they rejected) so I will be traveling with copies of everything, which I have been assured by the airline will be fine.
I thank Travisa, the passport expediting services who helped me, put up with me, and held my hand through this annoying process.
And to you dear readers planning on traveling alone with a minor*, I suggest this:
1) Original birth certificates, marriage certificates, proofs of name change if your child’s name is different from yours.
2) Copies (front and back) of government issued IDs for yourself and your child’s other parent.
3) Notarized and signed form DS 3053 if renewing a passport for a minor child and other parent will not be present during application process.
4) TWO notarized letters of consent for traveling purposes. Only one is required, sometimes they don’t even ask for it, but it’s best to have.
Take all this with you. Because no matter what the websites say, I found that not all the websites have all the information needed to make this process a breeze. If you are considering getting a passport for your minor child, and are separated or divorced from your spouse, find out what your rights are.
*If you have full custody, you must show proof of the same and carry it with you during travel, but your hassles will be minor, not the same…or so they say.
The system is not flexible, and maybe, depending on the circumstances, this is for the best. However, in this case, it was torturing and exhausting.
The process in the end was expensive and stressful, but my son and I will be making the trip together…and doing some much needed bonding. It was all worth it just to see that smile, though I don’t wish this hassle on anyone!