Do Children Need an ID to Fly?

Woman asking if a children need an ID to fly

If you are planning to travel with your child, you may be wondering whether or not they will need an ID to fly. However, there is no one answer, it is dependent on multiple factors, including:

  • The child’s age
  • Whether they are flying domestically or internationally
  • If they are flying alone or with a parent or guardian

Each airline has its own policies, and some require documents that may take several weeks to apply for and receive. So, you should give yourself plenty of time to check the requirements and get the documents you will need.

Documents children need to fly domestically

Most of the time, children aged 2-17 do not need any ID if an adult companion is flying domestically with them. However, the adult companion must have a government-issued ID. For a domestic flight, this can be:

What documents do babies need to fly domestically?

Parents often wonder whether or not they will need to show their baby’s birth certificate at airport security.

TSA does not require you to show your baby’s birth certificate when flying within the U.S. However, since airlines allow infants under two years of age to sit in their parent’s laps without a ticket, you may be asked to provide proof that your child is young enough to qualify. You can do this easily with their U.S. birth certificate.

If you don’t have a copy of your child’s birth certificate, you can order a certified birth certificate copy online. This is simple to do and will ensure that you have everything you need to allow your baby to fly. If you can not prove that your baby is under the age of 2, you may be forced to buy a ticket for your child at the gate. Not only do last minute seats typically cost more, you also run the risk of the flight being full.

However, if you can’t get a copy of your baby’s birth certificate in time, there are alternative documents you can use, including their passport, if they have one, or their immunization records.

Keep in mind, however, that if you have a newborn who is less than 2 weeks old, the airline may require additional documents, such as a doctor’s note stating that it is safe for the baby to fly.

Documents children need to fly internationally

If you are traveling outside the U.S., then the rules are different. All infants traveling internationally must have their own passport.

To get a passport for your child, you will need a certified copy of their birth certificate, passport photos, and proof of your relationship to the child. If a child’s parents have joint custody, they must apply in-person, together to get the child a passport. However, if this is not possible, the absent parent can provide a notarized Statement of Consent. For parents with sole custody, this rule does not apply.

Minors must also have their own permit when flying to a country that demands a visa or travel authorization.

You should also be aware that the legal adult age may be different in your destination. For example, in certain parts of Canada, individuals are not considered adults until they turn 19.

Documents needed for children to fly alone

When flying domestically, the regulations are pretty lax for children traveling with their parents. However, unaccompanied children are subject to much stricter standards. Requirements vary by airline, however, the following rules are fairly universal.

A child must have these documents to fly alone:

  • A child travel consent form – you can usually get this from the airline, and it may also be called an unaccompanied minor form or authorization. It must be filled out by one of the child’s parents and provide information on the adults both dropping off and picking up the child at each airport.
  • A consent letter – this need to be signed by both parents if custody is shared. However, if one parent is deceased, a copy of the late parent’s death certificate can be attached.

Older teens should have at least one the following documents:

  • Driver’s license or learner’s permit
  • Passport book or card
  • Credit card in their name
  • School ID
  • Employee ID
  • Library card
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Extracurricular ID (athletics, band, etc.)
  • Auto insurance card in their name

Even if the airline does not require it, minors traveling alone should still bring an ID with them, in case it is needed. You should also keep in mind that many airlines have strict policies for children flying by themselves. In many cases, a parent or guardian must accompany them to the gate and remain there until the plane departs. They will also need to be picked up at the gate by the individual listed on their travel consent form. So, if you are picking up or dropping off a child at the airport, you will need to bring appropriate ID, in case you need to pass through airport security to get the child to their departure gate.

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