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Traveling out of country with niece - need advice!

Traveling out of country with niece - need advice!

May 14th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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Traveling out of country with niece - need advice!

My husband and I will be traveling to the UK (from the US) with our 13 year old niece in February 2008. This will be our fist time traveling abroad with a child. Other than passports are there any notarized forms, etc.. that I will need for my niece for either the US or UK immigration/customs?

I've looked at the US State Dept. site and there's nothing other than the rule for obtaining a passport for children under 14 etc... The UK Border & Immigration site doesn't have much information either... Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places?

I have searched this site and the only information I found was from 1/2001 or 6/2006 - the 6/2006 post was from the same post and did not contain up to date information. I'd really like to hear of other folks recent experiences with this issue.

Anyway, I am a little worried because all three of us have different last names, and I don't want either the US or UK immigration/customs thinking we are kidnappers... Maybe I'm overanalyzing too much, or maybe not. Any help on this issue would be greatly appreciated!
angelica00 is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 11:50 AM
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You should have a notarized letter from the childs parents (and from each parent if they are separated) giving you and your husband permission to be travelling with the child. In addition, you should have a document to make medical decisions for the time you are away with the child in case of illness or accident.
travelbunny is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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This is the type of form to use. You will probably never need it, but it wouldn't hurt to have it.
TravMimi is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Thank you travelbunny & TravlMimi for the quick replies! Both of your answers state that *both parents* permission are required.

My sister (niece's mother) is divorced and has a court order granting her sole custody of her children. So I guess all that would be needed is the mother's permission? Do you all agree?
angelica00 is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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Sole custody doesn't necessarily mean the father doesn't still have parental rights. Have his rights been terminated? If not, you probably need written permission from both parents.

But this is a question better directed to the mother's attorney (or your own)
janisj is online now  
May 14th, 2007, 01:53 PM
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If she has sole custody, and the right to get medical treatment for her daughter without prior consent of the father, then she should be okay with just the mother. I would also assume that if Dad is around, he'd certainly sign the form for the daughter, if he's not around, then only the mother's signature is required, just add to mimi's form a clause that says that mom has sole custody of the child.
If the divorce was recent and/or contentious over custody, mom should talk to her divorce lawyer to get advice from her state, as each state has different rules on these type of things.

Good luck!
apersuader65 is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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You might want a copy of the custody agreement just in case.
palette is offline  
May 14th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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No - you need written permission from BOTH parents. This is to prevent children being taken out of the country in custody battles (the airline doesn;t know if there's a custody fight going on and don;t want to be legally responsible).

And even though your sister has sole custody she doesn;t have the right to send the child out of the country without her ex's - or the court's - permission (if the ex won't cooperate).
nytraveler is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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What if the father is a deadbeat dad or has taken off. Presumably she can't go because she can't find dad? Don't think so. Palette is right, get a copy of the custody agreement-judgment that gives custody. That is all that it should take.
apersuader65 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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apersuader: How will you feel when the OP follows your "legal advice" and at the last minute is not allowed to take their niece??

Is is just because of nasty divorces/dead beat parents that both parents normally must give permission. As was mentioned - sole custody doesn't mean the other parent has no rights.

(But IF the father's parental rights have been severed -- that is entirely different)
janisj is online now  
May 16th, 2007, 12:57 PM
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angelica - the ONLY advice you should follow is that of the mother's attorney. Every poster on here has made very valid comments (including the fact that you usually have to have the permission of both parents). But unless the father is dead or his parental rights have been totally terminated, each state determines what rights he does and doesn't have and IMO none of us can tell you that. The attorney should be able to determine or find out what documents or information would be needed for the UK & US in your specific situation so all of you don't have a hassle with immigration - coming or going.
dfr4848 is offline  
May 16th, 2007, 06:20 PM
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If the father really cannot be found - or refuses OK - the mother can get the court's permission for the child to leave the country.

But - please - I agree to speak to the mom's attorney AND the airline - since the latter is who will have the final determination who actually boards the plane. (Do you really want to be argueing with the boarding agent while waving a copy of the divorce decree? Do you think the airline wants to accept the risk of being sued if there's some sort of problem?)
nytraveler is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 12:59 PM
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To Janisj:

The only "legal advice" I gave to angelica00 was to have her daughter contact her divorce lawyer to find out that state's legal requirements. The remaining portion(s) of my posts were simply my opinions. I stand by my opinions. So long as the trip does not interfere with dad's right to visitation (assuming he exercises it) then there is nothing in the law to prevent the child from going on vacation.

Once again, to angelica00, if you are still looking at this discussion, have the mother talk to her divorce lawyer about what is needed, as he/she will certainly have reviewed the judgment or decree, if not wrote the thing. This "advice" also assumes that Dad can't be contacted or refuses to sign when asked, which could prompt a visit to the lawyer anyway.

Good luck.

apersuader65 - U of M, J.D. '93
apersuader65 is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 03:49 PM
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Wow - Thank you everyone for all of your helpful replies!

Here's an update:
I have sent email to the UK Embassy/Consulate explaining my situation and asking what, if anything is required for UK entry. Will see if I get a response... I also emailed our air carrier, Virgin Atlantic, and they stated all that is needed is a passport, no other notarized letters or forms needed to board. I'm going to call their Customer Service center and ask a live person as well.

My sister is going to ask her Lawyer what he recommends when she sees him this week. Also, because the father never showed up to the hearings, the Judge decided to cut him off completely, and awarded my sister sole custody, the father does not even have visitation rights, the only rights my sister 'allowed' him was access to their medical records because he supplies the children's medical insurance. All of this is documented in her divorce decree.

Anyway, I'll let everyone know what happens, I know this is a subject that many will be interested in at one point or another.

Thanks again everyone!
angelica00 is offline  
May 23rd, 2007, 04:58 PM
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I would not take the airline's word over the phone as to what they will do. Again - if you're faced with an agent who won;t let you on the plane that won;t help.

Since the mom is seeing her lawyer - why not be safe rather than sorry?

And it's not the incoming country that's the issue - it's that the US is trying to prevent any children being taken OUT of the country (due to a series of well-documented parental kidnappings) without parent's consent - and is putting pressure on the airlines.
nytraveler is offline  
Mar 24th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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Hello all!
Just wanted to follow up on this thread, since this subject comes up every-now-and-then... The reply I received from the UK Embassy/Consulate, stated the UK has no requirements for a minor traveling without parents other than a passport. However, they recommended a notarized letter "Just in case".

Bottom line was we did get a notarized Consent to Travel/Medical letter. In our case since my sister has full legal custody of my niece (father has no parental rights), only my sister's authorization was needed and the cost was $10.

As for the actual travel part: We were never asked once about our niece! Like I said, we all have different last names, as well as my niece is blonde and blued eyed, and my husband and I are brown hair, brown eyed. The only thing asked at immigration in the UK was: How long is stay? Are you here on business or pleasure? and What will your UK address be for your stay? I guess we were lucky.

Thank you to all for your help!
angelica00 is offline  
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