Necessary Paperwork for a Trip with Nana or Papa
Grandparents may not always know the rules about screen time and desserts, but there's no one you can trust more to travel with your kids. If they're taking a domestic jaunt, the grandparents will probably never need to produce consent unless there's an emergency of some kind. But because emergencies do happen, it's smart to pack a few pieces of paperwork anyway. On international trips, the rules are stricter. Grandparents should be required to show proof of your permission for them to take the kids out of the country. Preparing that proof is easy for you to do.
Consent forms (Consent To Travel) aren't strictly necessary for a road trip with the grandparents, but if they're ever pulled over and the grandparents are questioned about their relationship to the kids, they'll be glad to have a letter of permission handy. Likewise, it's safest to bring such a letter to the airport for a domestic flight. Note that the Transportation Security Administration doesn't require children under 18 to present identification of any kind for a domestic flight, though it's always smart to check your airline's ID policies for children.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends that any child traveling without both custodial parents have proof of parental consent to travel. Contact the embassies of any countries to which the group will be traveling to ask about any specific documentation requirements for kids traveling without their parents. Children of any age are required to carry valid passports for international travel.
If the grandparents and kids are traveling on a cruise or as part of any organized tour, contact the cruise line or organizers for specific guidance about permission forms.
Travel Consent Forms
No official government forms exist for this purpose. As long as the form contains certain information, the child's parents can even write it by hand. (Your local travel agent or the child's pediatrician might also have a sample form you can use.) Parents should write a simple letter stating that they, as the child's parents or legal guardians, grant permission for him to travel with his grandparent(s).
Include his birth date and passport number, if applicable, and the birth dates and passport numbers of any accompanying grandparents. State the child's travel plans, including scheduled flight numbers, hotel reservations and the departure and return date. Include your contact information. Both parents should sign the letter in front of a notary public, who should then notarize it. Write one consent letter for each traveling child.
In the rare event that a child gets injured or requires medical treatment while traveling, his grandparent should have a consent form granting her permission to seek treatment for him. The American College of Emergency Physicians offers a template you can use, or you can write out your own letter including the child's birth date, insurance information and brief medical history. If he's currently taking any medications, include the drug names and dosages, and include contact information for his doctor. Include a statement like, "We, Billy Jones' parents, grant his grandmother Anna Jones permission to authorize medical treatment between the dates of July 12th and 19th." Have this letter notarized as well. Again, each child should have his own letter.
Ask the grandparent to call you before authorizing treatment, whenever possible.