We know many of you are already working on travel plans for your upcoming trip this summer. There’s plenty to think about when preparing for your trip so we thought it would be a good idea to outline the requirements for crossing the border with kids.
Children ages 16 and up require passports or passport cards. As a reminder the fees for first time applicants are $135 for a passport book or $55 for a passport card. The difference is the passport card is only accepted for LAND travel into Canada and Mexico. This would be an acceptable option for your trip as long as you are not flying. You can find more passport information here http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html. The current processing times are posted as 4-6 weeks. You can cut the time down to 2-3 weeks by paying a $60 expedite fee so it is well worth planning ahead.
For children under 16, passports are not required although you can purchase one. Minor passport costs are $105 for the book or $40 for the card, but are only good for five years instead of ten. As an alternative you can provide a certified copy of the child’s original birth certificate. An important note here is the long form or official state document with seal is required. Frequently, the short form or copy you receive from the hospital is not acceptable for identification. For more information about the correct form and how to obtain one, visit this site http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/consumerawareness/a/birthcert.htm. The original birth certificate is also required to obtain a passport so if you don’t have it, you will need it at some point anyway.
The last requirement for minors under age 16 travelling with only 1 parent or adults other than parents or guardians is a notarized letter from the absent parent or parents granting permission for the child to travel to Canada with the appropriate parties during your travel dates. This is simply a protection to cut down on kidnapping cases. The letter should also include contact information for the absent parent or guardian. Divorced parents should also have a copy of custody papers. We have never had a guest turned away for not having this letter, but several have been scolded and reminded of its necessity.
As long as you plan ahead and gather the necessary documents (passport or birth certificate + permission letter) crossing the border with kids is not a hassle and you’ll be helping to create memories that will last a lifetime for your child!