Updated 4-17-17. Summer vacation is just around the corner, and many Notaries will soon be receiving requests to notarize permission forms for children traveling abroad. Here’s what you need to know about these forms.
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), if a child is traveling abroad with one parent, the other parent must supply a letter granting permission. If the child is traveling with an adult other than her parents, both parents must provide written permission.
The agency strongly recommends that the permission form be notarized. While the U.S. customs officials do not always ask for this documentation, many countries do, and the “failure to produce notarized permission letters” could result in being denied entry.
When asked to notarize permission forms for summer travel with children, remember these tips:
1. Follow State Requirements.
A parent who needs their signature notarized must personally appear before you. Many parents aren’t familiar with notarial rules and procedures, and may ask you to notarize an absent spouse’s signature, not realizing it’s against the law. As always, follow all the other requirements for a proper notarization in your state.
2. Don’t Give Advice.
Requirements for a child’s permission letter may vary depending on the destination and the rules of the airline or cruise ship line. As a Notary, you cannot give legal advice regarding the contents of a permission letter or how a document must be completed. If the signer has questions, they will need to contact the company or agency requiring the document for further instructions.
3. Be Patient.
International travelers often rush and panic at the last minute to make sure the necessary paperwork is in order prior to imminent departure. Parents who need notarized permission for a child to travel at the last minute may get flustered if their signatures cannot be notarized due to lack of acceptable ID or another issue.
When these summer travel crises crop up, remain calm and courteous and explain that you can’t notarize without the signer’s personal appearance. Offer to reschedule so that the signer can appear before you with paperwork in order to complete the notarization properly.
David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.