Hello, my DS (9) will be travelling through the states in a few weeks with his grandfather, no parents on the trip. Has anyone experienced border control travelling with children without parents present and aware of any forms I may need to complete prior to the trip? DS and grandfather have the same surname, ex and I no longer together, he was named on birth cert but nothing since, am hoping we need nothing from him as he is virtually untraceable?
Thanks talkinpeace yes they are flying out together and DS is flying back with me only, I think ESTAs are done but will check. My biggest concern is that they would be stopped and split up as they are not on connected passports, imagine that as a 9 yo? Scares the crap out of me!!
I'm afraid that things have changed somewhat in the last few years:-
From the US govt official website on such matters:-
Children - Child traveling with one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian or a group
If a child (under the age of 18) is traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian, what paperwork should the adult have to indicate permission or legal authority to have that child in their care?
Due to the increasing incidents of child abductions in disputed custody cases and as possible victims of child pornography, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that unless the child is accompanied by both parents, the adult have a note from the child's other parent (or, in the case of a child traveling with grandparents, uncles or aunts, sisters or brothers, friends, or in groups*, a note signed by both parents) stating "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so." See our Q&A parental consent.
* School groups, teen tours, vacation groups.
CBP also suggests that this note be notarized.
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation, if we do ask, and you do not have it, you may be detained until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child (deceased, sole custody, etc.) any other relevant paperwork, such as a court decision, birth certificate naming only one parent, death certificate, etc., would be useful.
Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require this documentation, many other countries do; failure to produce notarized permission letters and/or birth certificates could result in travelers being refused entry (Canada has very strict requirements in this regard).
I've been asked at Heathrow whether DS is my son and he's been travelling with both parents. This however, has not happened each time we have arrived at either Heathrow or Gatwick but it is something to bear in mind.
Atilla I flew to the USA at Christmas and my passport is not in the same name as my children. A friend flew in June and her passport is not in the same name as her son. Neither of us had any problem at all.