Identification Required for Traveling Children

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I am often asked the question “What ID is required for my child when I show up at the airport?” Although you can call the airline and ask or look it up on their site, I’ve compiled all of the information you need:

Domestic Flights: For US domestic flights, children under the age of 18 are not required to show any ID to board a flight. Although, this is technically the rule, if you have a child that looks old for his/her age, I suggest bringing some sort of identification just in case, i.e., a copy of his/her birth certificate. It could help alleviate some time spent convincing an agent that they really are only 17, for example.

This rule, however, does not apply to unaccompanied minors, lap children, or reduced child fare.

  • Unaccompanied minors: Some airlines allow children to travel without their parent. Every airline has a different age restriction and cost associated with it, so you will need to go to that airlines website to find out more. But, those traveling by themselves will need to bring poof of age (passport, birth certificate, etc.), and the parents government-issued ID.
  • Lap children: As I mentioned in the post “Traveling with a Lap Child” I explain that ALL lap children (so those under the age of 2 without their own seat) are required to show proof of age. You will need this when you check into the flight with a gate agent, but not TSA. As I mentioned in the post, not all airlines actually ask for proof, but it is required so if you come across an agent who requests it and you happen to not have it you could be required to purchase a very expensive ticket right then and there.
  • Reduced child fare: As far as I know, Southwest is the only airline that still offers reduced fares for children and infants. I’ll write more about it in an upcoming post, but typically you can get $10-$20 off a fare for your child under 12. If your child has not yet been verified, you’ll need to bring documentation to prove their age (passport, birth certificate, etc.).

International Flights: All passengers, regardless of age are required to have a passport. It does not matter if they are 6 weeks old, 6 years old, 26 years old, or 66 years old – ALL passengers need a passport. Keep in mind though that there are some US territories out there where a passport is not required. This includes: Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Micronesian islands, Guam, and American Samoa. Since you have a passport, no other identification is required for the child, i.e., copy of birth certificate, etc.

Let me know if you have any questions!


  1. I’m flying with my daughter who is 16 but we have a different surname do I have to get a letter from my partner (my child’s father)? and do I need to take her birth certificate thank you? I can’t find the birth certificate but could go and get a duplicate if need be I fly in three days time to new York from glasgow

    • @Denise – Since you are flying internationally, you might want a letter and a birth certificate. Better safe then sorry. I do not know the rules when leaving London.

  2. Hi I have a 16 years old and a 14 years old who are traveling to Puerto Rico do they need a I’d to travel

    • @Nancy – As long as the children are US citizens, you do not need identification if they are under 18.

  3. I am 16 and traveling alone to Italy from us, I have the consent paper…
    Do I need to bring birth certificate ?

  4. I’m traveling to American Samoa with my 8 year old daughter, my 6 year old son and my 1 year old baby and they don’t have passports. So they need it? Or can they travel with just their birth certificates? or what do I need?

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