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Travel Abroad of 16 Year Old of Divorced Parents

by Gayle
(Seattle, King County USA)

Question: The mother is the designated custodian of a 16-year-old. Can the 16-year-old get a passport without the father's permission? Can the 16-year-old travel abroad without the father's permission?


All reside in Washington State. The parenting plan says of travel:

"Each parent shall be permitted to travel with the child that is in their primary care within the United States and to Canada without the consent of the other parent. Neither child shall travel to Pakistan so long as the U. S. Department of State has (current) travel warnings for United State Citizens warning against non-essential travel to Pakistan. The parent wishing to travel to Pakistan must also have the written permission of the other parent."

Answer: I will attempt to answer your questions in their order.

Can the 16-year-old get a passport without the father's permission?

If the mother has sole legal custody, then the father's permission in not necessary. If the parents have shared custody, then consent may be necessary.

Notarized parental consent is required from the non-applying parent for minors age 15 and younger. Minors ages 16 and 17 "may be requested to provide written parental consent for a child age 16 or 17 if it is not implied on the application".

The agent who attends to the minor at the time he or she submits the passport application will inform him or her as to whether there is a need to submit a parental consent form or not.

Can the 16-year-old travel abroad without the father's permission?

According to the parenting plan above, the only destination that the minor can travel outside the United States without consent of the non-primary care parent is Canada. This implies that travel to any other destination outside the U.S. must have the consent of the non-primary care parent.

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Traveling to Turks and Caicos Island
by: Anonymous

Question: I am traveling to Turks with my 17-year-old daughter. Her father and I are divorced but she live with me; we have joint custody. Can I travel to this island without a consent? Her father lives overseas so its hard for me to get a consent letter.

Answer: There will be no need for a consent.

Travel to the Philippines
by: Gina B

Question: I want to take my daughter to the Philippines. She is 16 years old and I have joint custody -- I'm the primary custodian. Do I need consent from her father if she already has her passport?

Answer: Hello, Gina. We deleted your last name for security reasons. Your daughter may travel to the Philippines without issue as long as her passport meets the requirements. Since she will be traveling with a parent, she does not need any additional documentation.

We recommend that you contact the Philippine Embassy for the latest travel requirements for U.S. citizens.

Travel to Mexico, mom has primary custody
by: Anonymous

Question: I want to take my 16-year-old daughter to Mexico for a week to help her get extra credit in high school for Spanish and a family trip. I, the mom, have custody of her. Do we need her dad's permission? He has been estranged for over 3.5 years with no contact, visit, etc. I am not even sure how to find or get a hold of him. He abandoned her back then by never ever making any contact.

Answer: There is no need to get the father's consent since the child will be traveling with a parent.

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