1193546_27442689-200x132I have spent the past two days working through the rules and regulations of preparing to travel overseas with my son, and without my ex, his father.

The Hague Convention, a treaty created to crack down on international child abductions has been in force in the U.S. and 50 other countries since 2001, and has essentially heightened the requirements for solo parents, or any non-parental family member or guardian traveling with a minor.

Thus, in renewing my son’s passport, I learned that there were many forms that I needed to fill out along with the other required paperwork.

The Passport:

You will need to fill out the DS-11 form. If you are applying for the first time you will need to submit paperwork required in form, in addition to birth certificate with both parents’ name on it.  If you have changed your name, legal proof of name change must also be provided. I would recommend to bring originals plus two copies of everything.

All children, regardless of age must have a passport to travel and must be present at time of application.

It is also required that both parent be present at time of passport application.

However, and this is where I hit a wall, the situation doesn’t always allow for both parents to be present.  In my case, I have an estranged husband, who also happens to not be in the country and we share joint custody.

In this case, I needed to fill out a DS-3053 form. If the other parent can’t be present at time of passport application/renewal, then he/she must sign the form where applicable in front of a notary public.  If the non-present parent cannot sign the form, than you must fill out the “special circumstances” section of the form, and sign the form in front of a notary public. This “special circumstance” is approved or denied at the state’s discretion.

The Travel Letter

It is also recommended that even with all passports in hand, that you bring original birth certificate, proof of name change, or other documentation, including a notarized, consent letter from absent parent authorizing for child to travel with you, and in their absence. A sample of such a letter is here.

I will not be traveling with such a letter, as I do not have access to my ex, however, I will bring all the other paperwork, as well as a copy of my airline itinerary showing our departing date from the foreign country.  I have traveled with my son before without my ex, however, considering all the enforcements as of late, it never hurts to have as much information as possible with you.

In short, start the process early to avoid extra fees and to have ample time to collect whatever documentation may be needed, and take whatever legal paperwork you may have, even if just for extra support, especially when traveling abroad.

For more information on Passport Requirements visit the U.S. Department of State Passport Website.

If you need to expedite your passport, I found Travisa to be extremely efficient, professional, and friendly. But there are many others to choose from. Research them carefully and do not hesitate to call them beforehand to confirm that you have all the information and documentation needed for their services.

Online searches will also lead you to many sites offering free Parent Consent and Medical Treatment Authorization forms (free of charge). The Medical Treatment Authorization form is especially important for non-parental figures traveling with a minor.

I have not received my son’s passport yet, so am not sure if the state accepted my “special circumstance”, but I am hoping that in 3 weeks my 12 year old and I will be sitting on a sandy beach getting in some much needed mother/son bonding. Fingers crossed!

Photo credit: Pablo Barrios