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There’s a lot that goes into traveling with kids: there’s the iPad, the charger, the games; there’s downloading the books and the necessary snacks. Barring any last-minute need for a stuffed animal or that “special” shirt, looks like you’re ready to go!

Or are you…

If you’re crossing borders or international waters—especially if you’re traveling with kids solo or you’re the grandparent—you might need more than a verbal “OK” and a ticket. Concern about parental abductions and kidnappings is at an all-time high, so it pays to be prepared.

If both parents are traveling with their children, at a minimum they should have a copy of each child’s birth certificate.

Typically, minors under the age of 18 do not have to present identification for domestic U.S. travel. Airlines will accept identification from the responsible adult on behalf of the minor(s). To prove your child’s age to an airline, one of the following documents is sufficient:  Child’s passport; child’s birth certificate; child’s immunization form or other medical records may also work domestically.For international travel, minors under the age of 18 must present the same travel documents as adults. Best-case scenario? Obtain a passport for each child. Keep in mind that many cruise ships require valid passports.

No passports? Make sure you start the process with plenty of time—or it could cost you. You can visit the U.S. Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center at 877-4USA-PPT for the most current requirements. In general, the passport application process can take up to 8 weeks to complete, so get started as soon as possible. There are, however, workarounds that can expedite the process. Note: Children under 16 have to appear in person at the passport office, and you will need a certified birth certificate. Click here for more details on the U.S. Department of State’s requirements for children.

But what if you’re a solo parent—or traveling with grandkids? This is something that might not be an issue on a domestic flight, but follow the following travel tips, as it’s always better safe than sorry. On anything with a whiff of international, though, you have to be ready to provide documentation stating that you have permission to travel with that child (or children).

Before you leave, ask the kid’s parent (or parents) to sign a “Travel Consent Form.” You can find them for free all over the Internet (Google “parental consent form for travel”—we got 79.2 million results.) Download, print, and have it signed in the company of witnesses. You may wish to have that document notarized, as well.

Divorce tends to complicate things a bit, too, especially if your last name differs from that of your child. You need to be extra sure all your ducks are in a row. In that case, be sure your Travel Consent Form is both signed by the absent parent and notarized, plus take along a copy of the child’s birth certificate where you are listed as a birth parent by name.

If you’re traveling between Canada and the U.S., you’ll need a little more. According to the Canada Border Services Agency: “If the parents are separated or divorced, and share custody of the child, the parent travelling with the child should carry copies of the legal custody documents.” There are several other requirements, so be sure and check the site.

Please remember that travel document requirements can—and do—change over time. Your best bet is to check the entry policies of the countries you’re planning on visiting (the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Government of Canada sites are a good place to start.)

Almost ready to go? Consider taking along a SkyMed TAKES YOU HOME medical evacuation services membership as well—both for you and the kids. In the event that an unfortunate critical accident or illness during your trip leaves your minor children or grandchildren stranded, SkyMed will take them home. Plus, grandkids under the age of 18 are eligible for all member services when traveling with their grandparents. SkyMed picks up where traditional travel insurance leaves off!

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