family travel

Travelling with children: which documents do you need?

Viviane Vaz for Id International

It’s vacation time and you want to travel abroad with your kids. After choosing your dream destination and planning the travel details (or having all this work done by Id International 😉 ), it’s time to check the travel documents you will need to present to immigration authorities.

It may sound surprising, but there are no rules on this matter at European level yet, so it means each EU country decides whether or not it requires the child to have an official authorisation from their parent(s) or guardian. In other words, you need to check in advance all the requirements of the country you are travelling to (and from) with their embassy or consulate. And if you are flying, also the requirements for countries in transit.

If you a travelling alone with the child, some countries will also request you to present a Child Travel Consent form (sometimes called a letter of permission to travel) proving a child has permission to travel without both legal guardians present. 

In most cases, your child will need to present one travel document: a passport or an identity document. If you are an EU citizen travelling to a country outside the Schengen area, you and your child will need to present your passports. If you are travelling within EU countries, you can choose to present a passport or an ID-card.

In Belgium, for example, you can request the Kids-ID, an electronic ID card for children aged 0 to 12 years. The card is valid for three years and valid in countries where the identity card is sufficient as a travel document. The majority of countries outside the EU will request a passport.

 Kids-ID in Belgium

How to apply?

  • Make an appointment at the Town Hall 
  • One person with parental authority and the child should be present 

Required documents

  • Recent photo following standards regarding size, quality, background, etc.
  • Old Kids-ID, if there’s one

Fees (payment preferably with Bancontact)

  • 9 euros (normal procedure)
  • 120 euros (urgent procedure)
  • 150 euros (very urgent procedure)

Waiting period

  • 2 to 3 weeks (normal procedure)
  • 2 working days if the application is made before 15h (in urgent procedure)
  • 1 working day if the application is made before 15h (in very urgent procedure)