Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)

Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)

May 25, 2012 11:00 ET

CAA Travel Experts Offer Tips for Traveling With Children in Tow and Solo Kid Travel

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 25, 2012) - Summer remains the most popular and eagerly anticipated season for family travel, according to CAA Travel experts. Options for family travel are varied and may include children traveling alone to visit geographically separated family members, travel with a solo parent, or kids leaving parents behind to cruise the world with grandparents. Some family travel options may require additional and perhaps unexpected travel documentation when both parents are not accompanying the child, the child is traveling with adults other than parents or the child's last name differs from the parent's name.

"Family travel plans could be interrupted or even ruined if necessary documentation requirements for children catch adults by surprise," said Brenda Kyllo, vice president, CAA Travel Services. "It is critical that parents identify and obtain the required documents for their specific family or child's travel."

CAA Travel experts offer these children's travel tips:

1. Passports for Children - All Canadian citizens including infants and children must have a valid passport to travel internationally by air. CAA Travel experts recommend that citizens of all ages use a passport for all international travel, including auto and cruise travel to the United States in the event an emergency requires reentry to Canada by air.

When entering the United States by land or water, Canadian citizens are required to present one of the following valid documents: a passport; a NEXUS card; a Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card; an enhanced driver's licence (EDL) or enhanced identification card (EIC) from a province where a U.S.-approved EDL/EIC program has been implemented; or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status. Canadian citizens aged 15 years or under are only required to present proof of Canadian citizenship, such as an original or a photocopy of a birth certificate, or an original citizenship card. Canadian citizens 18 years of age or under who are travelling with a school or other organized group, under adult supervision with parental/guardian consent, may also present proof of Canadian citizenship alone.

Current passport holders should examine the passport expiration date, and if the document is due to expire within six months of travel, renew it prior to travel. While adult and children (3 to 15 years of age) passports are valid for five years, passports for children under 3 years of age are valid for only three years. Parents should carefully examine all passport and child travel documentation requirements or seek the assistance of a knowledgeable travel agent.

2. Cruising with Children - Cruise lines generally require at least one legal adult (age 21 or higher) to occupy every stateroom to eliminate children cruising alone. This person also needs to be a legal parent or guardian. Cruise lines also require a notarized letter of authorization to travel if a child is sailing with only one parent, other non-custodial adults, or has a different last name than the responsible legal adult. For more information visit the applicable cruise line website or a knowledgeable travel agent.

3. International Solo Parent Travel - When visiting a foreign country - including Mexico and the United States - as a lone adult with a minor child under age 18, additional travel documentation is required. To help prevent cases of parental abduction and international child trafficking, many countries now require proof of the lone adult's relationship to the child and the legal right to travel in and out of the country with that child. In addition to the child's valid Canadian passport, and entry visa where required, a letter of permission from the absent parent is needed. It is strongly recommended that you have the consent letter certified, stamped or sealed by an official who has the authority to administer an oath or solemn declaration. For your convenience, the Canadian government now offers an interactive form that you can complete in order to generate a consent letter that fits your specific needs and situation.

The letter should include a statement of authorization for the child to travel, details of the trip and legal names and contact information for the child and accompanying adult. Single parents, grandparents, stepparents, guardians and any adult with a last name different from the child needs to be prepared with the additional documentation to present at border crossings, airport immigration check points and cruise line check-in desks. A travel agent can assist in securing the appropriate documents.

4. Children Flying Solo - Most airlines offer fee-based Unaccompanied Minor programs that facilitate air travel for children without an accompanying adult. These programs provide an affordable travel option to link geographically separated family members with the children they treasure. Airline Unaccompanied Minor programs, policies and procedures vary. Most require that an authorized adult escort the child to the departure gate and an authorized adult take custody of the minor child at the arrival gate. In flight, unaccompanied minors are under the care of the cabin crew.

If planning an itinerary for a child traveling by air solo, be sure to carefully check the specific requirements for each airline you are considering. Check age requirements, fees and all details which can vary greatly. For example some airlines require travel must be on a nonstop flight, while others might allow one or more stops if a plane change does not occur. Your travel agent will help you with this or you will find the specific details of each airline's program on the airline website.

5. Airport Security Clearance - Most major Canadian airports have Family and Special Needs lines, which are designed to facilitate the screening experience for parents with children. Not sure about carrying onboard baby formula, medicine or even battery operated toys? Visit Canadian Air Transport Security Authority for this and other important information regarding airport security clearance.

6. Child Medical Care Authorization - When a child is traveling without a parent, receiving emergency medical care could be complicated or refused by the medical facility, unless the emergency is deemed life-threatening. The adult accompanying the child should carry a medical proxy, an original notarized letter from the non-traveling parent(s) granting permission to authorize emergency medical care for the child. The letter should include the permission statement, child's health insurance information, social security number and full legal names of the child and accompanying adults. If the child remains at home while a parent travels, this important medical authorization documentation should be supplied to the child's caregiver.

To locate the nearest CAA Travel Agency, visit CAA.ca.

CAA is a federation of nine clubs providing more than 5.6 million Members with exceptional emergency roadside service, complete automotive and travel services, member savings and comprehensive insurance services. CAA also advocates on issues of concern to its members, including road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.

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