Does My Child Need ID to Fly?

Boy playing with toy plane in airplane
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Does your child need some form of identification to board a plane? It depends. When a minor takes a trip on a plane, there are situations where ID is required and others where it is not.

When Your Child Does Not Need ID to Fly

Flying within the USA and accompanied by an adult. The TSA and most airlines do not require children under age 18 to provide ID when traveling with an adult companion who has acceptable identification.

This would include family trips when a child flies with his parents. This will continue to be the case when REAL ID becomes a required identification for domestic air travel. Still, every airline has its own rules about minors and identification, so contact your airline a few days before your trip to know what you need to bring.

Flying as an unaccompanied minor within the USA. Note that adults accompanying the minor through the airport need to bring their own identification to complete the process. Have the child's birth certificate or passport handy as well. If kids are old enough to speak, security might ask them to say their name to confirm identification as well.

When Your Child Does Need ID to Fly

Flying internationally. In general, each adult in your party will need a passport and minor children will need either passports or original birth certificates. The name on the airline ticket must be identical to the name on the passport or birth certificate.

 Keep each child's passport handy, since you might have to show it at both check-in and security checkpoints.

Don't own a passport? Apply for a new passport for your child several weeks before you need it and make a copy to take with you alongside the original, just in case. Here's how to obtain a US passport or a less-expensive passport card, which permits you to travel within the US and to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

Flying internationally without both parents, or with only one parent. Documentation becomes more complicated when one parent or guardian is traveling out of the country alone with a minor. In general, besides passports, you should bring written consent from the child’s biological parent(s) along with the child’s birth certificate.

If your minor child will be traveling alone or with someone other than a parent or legal guardian, this consent form is required. A Child Travel Consent Form is a legal document that allows a minor child to travel without both parents or legal guardians present. It is advisable for all travel, and is particularly important when a minor is traveling outside the country.

Online Passport Renewal

Looking for a way to renew your passport online? For now, that's not possible. but the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs says it may happen. Speaking at a symposium in Washington in May 2017, community relations officer for passport services Carl Siegmund said the government is looking to roll out a limited, online renewal option in mid-2018. The rollout would include the option of push notifications to help applicants stay informed on the status of their applications, including updates via email and SMS text.