When minors travel to the United States, they are subject to protection by a different and rigorous set of guidelines. These guidelines are put in place to protect children from trafficking and other related hazards. If you want their journey to be as smooth as it should be, you must be aware of the requirements for minors flying to the US.

The rules and guidelines in the transport and aviation industry concerning minors flying to the USA are comprehensive. Though the Transportation Security Administration sets a majority of the requirements, airlines are also permitted to have their own set of policies. These policies, put together, can vary depending on the travel condition.

We’ll look into various travel conditions and do a proper analysis of the requirements of each.
General Travel Requirements for Minors

Generally, minors are subject to the same travel requirements as adults. There may be some additional requirements depending on travel conditions. However, some basic needs are unchanging. Some of these basic requirements include:

1. Valid Passport

No matter the age of a minor, they are required to carry a valid passport when traveling into the USA. Even newborn babies must have a valid passport to fly internationally.
Therefore, be sure to apply and have the minor’s passport in hand at the airport. You might have to show at the check-in and security checkpoints.

The passport will also serve as the means of identification. Airlines with a discounted fare for minors will require that you provide proof of age. Some airlines even allow minors under 2years of age to fly “free,” but you have to prove that the child is under 2years of age. A valid passport can serve as proof in cases like this.

2. Visa

All travelers seeking passage into the USA, minors not exclusive, require a visa. A minor must qualify for a unique program to travel without a permit. An example of such a program is the Visa Waiver Program.

The visa application fee for minors is the same as that of adults, and every minor must schedule a visa appointment to qualify for a visa. Minors are also required to go in person for the visa interview. The only exception is for minors from Panama who are under the age of 14years.

When going for the visa interview, a minor has to show up with at least one parent or legal guardian. You are required to bring along the minor’s passport. As a parent or guardian, you have to come along with your current valid passport, current or long term economic evidence, and proof of ties with family, academics, or something that will compel the minor to return home after the visit to the US.

In summary, a passport and a visa are the general requirements for minors flying to the US. However, there can be additional requirements based on travel conditions such as; traveling with children, traveling alone, traveling with one parent, or traveling with someone who is not a family member.

Some Other Factors To Consider

Let’s look into these conditions and see the requirements for each case.

1) Minors Traveling With Parents

When you take your kid(s) on an international trip, there are few requirements outside of the general travel requirements. TSA’s requirements in this travel case do not go beyond the generally stipulated documentation. However, airlines can impose their requirements.

You might need to show proof of age, especially for a minor that looks older. Each airline has its policy. You, therefore, have to check for the airline’s requirements beforehand.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, babies should travel in a safe booster seat. But, you are also allowed to have them sit on your lap. Airlines may have their policies concerning seating arrangements, though. Some discourage newborns from flying by their extra documentation demands.

Minors above three years are not allowed to travel on their parent’s lap. They’ll have to get a travel ticket of their own. Some airlines have a discounted rate for children.
Children items such as bags, toys, blankets, are subjected to screening procedures. If you get the “TSA PreCheck” on your boarding pass, your kids can go through the expected screening with you. Minors who are over 13 years of age will need to obtain personal “TSA PreCheck” else they won’t be allowed to go through.

2) Minors Flying To The US With One Parent Or Guardian

Here is another travel scenario. The requirement for this travel is a little different.

The significant difference is that the US Customs and Border Protection recommends that the traveling parents hold a note from the other parent, indicating their consent to the travel. If a guardian is accompanying the minor, such a person will need to have a consent letter from both parents.

In a case where there is no other parent like in sole custody, or the other parent is dead, the accompanying parent must hold all necessary paperwork such as death certificate, court decision, etc.

3) Minors Flying To The US Alone

When a child is traveling alone, the primary concern should be getting them the right documentation. It makes it easier for authorities to get a better understanding of the nature of the child’s trip.

Let your kid also have a consent form in hand. That way, authorities are sure the child is not on a run-away mission. You should also consult the airline ahead of time to know the rules for when a child is traveling alone.

Some airlines have the unaccompanied minor services option. This option is offered to minors less than 15 years of age. Under the unaccompanied minor service options, you pay extra fees for the airline to watch over your kid. They monitor the kid until he/she gets picked up at the other end.
The one who comes to pick them upon arrival at the airport will have to show an ID. The information of the ID must correlate with the information you provided on the unaccompanied service form you filled.


Successfully flying minors into the USA takes a lot of planning. However, a proper plan can take away the stress attached to such a journey. Make sure you know and follow all the requirements for minors flying to the US, and you’ll find the process