Don't Forget This Document if You're a Chaperone for an International Group Trip
This one applies to families as well as coaches, chaperones, or any other adult in charge of getting a minor that isn't a part of their family overseas and back: Make sure you bring proper documentation.
Given the responsibility that immigration desks and airlines globally have to detect and stop human trafficking, there's an increasing amount of documentation required to travel with minors who aren't your own children -- specifically notarized parental consent forms.
As an anecdote, my brother-in-law recently returned from a trip to Jamaica, where he was overseeing a group of teenagers on a humanitarian mission. Upon arrival into Montego Bay's Sangster International Airport (MBJ), he was asked to produce parental consent forms for each member of the party. The immigration agent studied each form carefully, matching the names on the forms with the names on passports. Had he not had those forms, all of the fundraising for the trip would've been for naught, as each member of the party would have had to return home without entering the country.
Who Would This Impact?
If you're a coach, instructor, or group leader, it's not uncommon to find yourself in charge of a minor that isn't related to you. Here are a few international travel situations where you'd need to be mindful should you find yourself in charge of a group:
- Sports team traveling overseas for competition
- Musical, dance, or artistic team
- Humanitarian, philanthropic, or charity group
- Educational or study abroad group
- Family vacation, wedding, or funeral with unrelated friends joining
What Do I Need?
While rules surrounding what's needed for a minor traveling with you to clear immigration vary from nation to nation, you should definitely require that each minor traveling with you bring their birth certificate, a notarized parental consent form and their passport.
While the United States Customs and Border Protection agency doesn't supply an official form to act as a Parental Consent Letter, it does provide a recommendation overview. Moreover, you can find a solid template here. If you wish to create your own, make sure it has the following:
- Your team or organization's letterhead, graphic, or logo
- The minor's full name (matching the passport and birth certificate that they're carrying)
- The minor's date of birth
- The minor's place of birth
- The minor's passport nationality and number
- The parent(s) or legal guardian(s) full names, both printed and signed
- A brief paragraph summarizing the reason for the trip, acknowledgment of the chaperone's name, and permission for the minor to be a part of the trip
- The travel period (start and end date)
- A list of the hotels or addresses where the minor will be staying
- A notary's seal
Yes, securing these documents ahead of time can be tedious, but it pales in comparison to the potential headache of having minors in your group asked to board the first flight back to their homeland. Do you have any tips for large families and groups traveling abroad? Let us know in comments, and chime in at the TPG Lounge on Facebook.