In keeping with this month's topic of Roamin,' I'm going to talk about some resources for international travel for children and teens, specifically without a parent.
The first thing to think about is what kind of documentation your child will need. Most likely, he or she will need a passport book. (There are other types of identification such as a passport card, enhanced driver's licenses, etc., but they may not be equivalent to a U.S. passport in all situations).
For example, according to the State Department, "all U.S. citizens are required to present a valid U.S. passport to enter or re-enter the United States via air." Certain countries may also require a visa. Start here to get the forms you need to apply for a passport: http://travel.state.gov/passport/. In King County, passports are processed through the King Country District Courts: http://kingcounty.gov/courts/DistrictCourt/Passport.aspx.
If your child will be traveling without one or both parents, there may be additional considerations. Certain countries may require notarized documents from the absent parent(s) giving consent for international travel. The State Department provides an A-Z listing of countries with specific exit and entry requirements for minors: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html. Here is an example of a parental consent for travel: http://www.freewebs.com/docdiva/Minor%20Travel%20Consent.pdf.
There are a number of proactive ways to help safeguard your family in the event of an emergency. One of them is to join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program helps the State Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S. or if there is a crisis where you are traveling: https://travelregistration.state.gov. For students studying abroad, check out this website for safety tips geared for teens and college students: http://studentsabroad.state.gov/.
If you want to give certain rights to your child's caregiver during his or her trip, such as medical consent, ability to enroll in school, etc., check out this publication from the washingtonlawhelp.org website: http://tinyurl.com/6ncqv5n. It provides instructions and forms for a Temporary Parental Consent Agreement. It is an alternative to a formal guardianship action through the court system that might be a good fit for a summer abroad, a parent facing a long-term hospitalization or other similar situations.
...login to read the rest of this article.