Kids flying from the US to the UK with an adult who isn't their parent
July 25, 2014 6:59 AM   Subscribe

What precautions, if any, need to be taken in this situation?

My boss has to travel from the UK to Florida next week for a conference, and is bringing his two kids (10 and 8, I think, both girls) and their nanny so that they can go to Disney World and stuff while he's at the conference. Their mother is staying at home to work.

On the way back, he may need to fly on to California to visit our sales office there, which would mean the kids would be flying back with their nanny but without a parent. Are there any precautions they should take to avoid ending up in a "these children are travelling with an adult who isn't their parent and that is not allowed" situation?

Would proof of the nanny's employment or something signed by the parents saying they've approved this be necessary/useful? Or something else?

I'm not sure if I'm being over-cautious (I'm his assistant and have been planning some of this trip), but I've heard plenty of news stories about protections in place to ensure children aren't being kidnapped and don't want his family/nanny to end up falling foul of that. I have no idea what the legal/cultural situation is like around this stuff in the US.

If it matters (which it shouldn't, but it might), the kids are mixed-race, the nanny is not.
posted by terretu to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No matter if the nanny travels alone with the children back to the UK, she should have, in writing, documents that list her as the caregiver for the children, and empowered to make medical and other decisions for them. I include copies of our medical insurance cards, maybe you need to have a legal statement guaranteeing the parent as responsible for any medical bills.
I, [parent name], empower [caregiver name] to act as guardian and provider for [minor children names] in all matters medical, financial and other for the [dates of travel] as needed for [minor children names] well being.

[emergency contact list for both parents here and abroad, hotel information]

[allergy or medical information for each child]

[signatures, notarization]
In the US, we'd usually supply our children's caregivers a notarized letter for such trips. Notaries are certified by individual states to be empowered to notarize letters or documents such as this for a small fee, with all signing parties providing proof of identification (usually a government issued ID). Some notaries will only sign for people who are clients (such as one provided through a bank or legal office).

I'm reasonably certain that for the Disney area, the equivalent sort of that type documentation you could provide from the UK would be sufficient in any in-country situations (medical situation, missing child, lost wallet).

I don't know if this satisfies the flying across international borders requirements; check with the airline and your consulate.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

It's not just the nanny that needs documentation, the dad should also bring a note from the mother saying that he has her permission to bring the kids out of the country. See this page for a bit more on that.

(also don't forget that the kids need their own passports.)

But you should check with the airline directly, they will know exactly what kind of documentation you need to provide.
posted by effbot at 7:27 AM on July 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: My sons have traveled with their grandparents, and I always filled out a notarized form like Buttons quoted. Mine was more along the lines of:

"My son, [full name], has my permission to travel to [destination country] from [home country] accompanied by [adults name/s] between the dates of [dates they will be with grandparents]. During this time, [adults name/s] has my permission to seek all necessary medical care for [son's name]."

Followed by my name, address, and phone number. Then the adult/s name, address, phone number, and I usually attach a birth certificate to validate that I am the actual parent writing the letter. I've done it without a notary and it went fine both into and out of Canada/US. Then again, the one time you decide against a notary it will probably be needed.

Here are the US border instructions for this scenario.
posted by routergirl at 7:28 AM on July 25, 2014

effbot: It's not just the nanny that needs documentation, the dad should also bring a note from the mother saying that he has her permission to bring the kids out of the country.

Yeah, when I traveled with my daughter but not her mother (my wife) from the US to the UK it was recommended that I have a notarized letter to that effect. Certainly couldn't hurt for the nanny to have one signed by both parents. I'm not sure what the UK equivalent of notarization is.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:36 AM on July 25, 2014

I'd bring the letters as suggested -- yes, it should be clear that the father is allowed to travel without the mother -- and also warn the kids that they are sometimes asked specifically about who they are travelling with, and they mustn't joke.

(I'm assuming that the kids have UK passports and are UK citizens. Things get much more complex if, for instance, you have adopted a child internationally and haven't bothered to get citizenship for them in a couple of years. Ask me how I know!)
posted by jeather at 7:39 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I'm not sure if notarisation will be possible in the time frame (they fly early tomorrow, it's nearly the end of the business day here, and, like Rock Steady, I'm not sure what the UK equivalent is either), but I've prepared both parents letters to sign with copies of each parent's passport for proof/ID.
posted by terretu at 7:51 AM on July 25, 2014

Your boss can get the letter notarized while in Florida. Most banks have one on staff.
posted by 724A at 7:58 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

His consulate may be able to provide notarization service, if the can't find a bank with correspondent courtesy with his UK banks to provide notarization services. I had a customer in the other day who could not get any banks in the plaza to notarize anything for him because he was not a customer with them nor with a bank that has ties to them (he was from another country).

Additionally, the hotel concierge may be able to hook him up with a notary, if the hotel manager or one of the staff members is not a notary.

Here is a notary search for the state of Florida, and a number of private mail stores (UPS Store, Kinko's) have on staff notaries as well. An online search for travelling notaries will help you find someone (and then the lookup will allow you to verify their license). Non-traveling notaries should cost under $50 US for a couple of documents. Travelling notaries will charge for travel time.

The notary will certify that he or she has examined the nanny and father's ID, and witnessed the signing of the letter (so don't have them sign them yet!).

Also helpful will be physical and digital (take a good snap with their phones) copies of their itinerary and IDs for all adults to carry/have available in the hotel safe. Also, have them have a group picture on their phones (with the nanny). Helps to have current pictures to show relationship / connection and in a lost child scenario.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 8:11 AM on July 25, 2014

In the UK, anyone without "parental responsibility" needs permission to travel abroad with a child from someone who has "parental responsibility." Fathers do not automatically have parental responsibility --- he would be advised to have the child's birth certificate listing him as the father to prove he has this authority. The father also needs permission from anyone else with parental responsibility to be able to travel w/out that person:

A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you’ve got permission to take them abroad. You might be asked for the letter at a UK or foreign border, or if there’s a dispute about taking a child abroad. The letter should include the other person’s contact details and details about the trip.

It also helps if you’ve:

-evidence of your relationship with the child, eg a birth or adoption certificate
-a divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child’s

On the US side, similar documentation is necessary as well. They recommend notarizing the request. In lieu of a notary, I would at least have a neutral third party sign as a witness. I'd also have the dad keep proof of the children's tickets for an earlier departure, so that he doesn't face issues upon exit alone (not sure if it happens, but they do record who you enter/leave with and it may cause issues if he is no longer with his minor children).

You will want written permission signed by both parents stating that the nanny has authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the children (at least temporarily, in the event they cannot contact one of the parents). This should include authority to incur charges for medical care.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:12 AM on July 25, 2014

Wikipedia tells me that notaries exist in the UK, but aren't generally needed. Notarial services in the UK can also be provided by most solicitors. However, from reading up on what a "solicitor" is in the UK, it seems like that's a service you'd only be able to get during hours when the courthouse is open. That means you're likely out of luck for getting something notarised ("s" to denote this is in the UK) this evening.

Your boss can probably have the letter notarized ("z" to denote this is in the US) in Florida, which ought to be sufficient for any situation occurring in the US. Sounds like the main problem will be getting the kids back to the UK, though -- I'm not sure the UK would accept foreign notarization on something like this.

Notaries here in the US very often are found in chain stores that handle package shipping, for example The UPS Store, FedEx Office (formerly Kinko's), or even Staples. In my experience at my local UPS store, the notary charges $2 per signature, and only works certain hours (not whenever the store is open), so have him call the store before he shows up. Notary fees vary, but shouldn't be more than $5 per signature. My employer (like most large US employers) has a notary on staff who doesn't charge any fee at all, but he won't have access to something like that.
posted by tckma at 9:17 AM on July 25, 2014

My daughter has crossed US/Canada border with single parent or grandparents many times. We always sent an authorization letter but never had it notarized. Half the times the travelers were not asked to present the package, let alone fuss about notarization.

Here was the template:
Both parent's names and address


To Whom It May Concern:

We, Parent 1 and Parent 2, parents of Child, authorize Grandparent 1 and Grandparent 2 to take Child to Canada on Departure Date. Grandparent 1 and Grandparent 2 are Child's grandparents.

Child will be visiting Canada for a vacation. She will return to the United States with her mother on Return Date.


Signed both parents
Followed by both parent's home, work, cell numbers
We included in this package photocopies of the photo/signature page of the parent's passport, the child's birth certificate (original), and the marriage certificate (again original).

We never had a problem in dozens of border crossings (primarily land, but also by train and air). I have never traveled to the UK but I can say this is enough to satisfy US authorities.
posted by crazycanuck at 12:55 PM on July 25, 2014

And here is a single parent template:
Both parent's names and address


To Whom It May Concern:

I, Father Name, father of Child Name, authorize Mother Name to take Child to Canada on Departure Date. Mother Name is Child's mother and they will be staying in Canada for a vacation.

You can optionally put the name and address of the location they are staying here.

Mother shall return Child to the United States on Return Date.


Signed by father
Followed by father's phone numbers
posted by crazycanuck at 1:06 PM on July 25, 2014

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