February 1, 2024 In Child Custody

International Travel with Children without a Passport

When a parent takes a child out of the United States to a country that requires a passport without obtaining one, it raises serious legal issues and potentially violates multiple laws. This act can have significant legal consequences for the parent involved, affecting their custodial rights and potentially leading to criminal charges.

Violated Laws and Regulations:


  1.  Passport Requirements: U.S. federal law requires all U.S. citizens, including minors, to present a valid passport when entering or leaving the country. Taking a child abroad without a passport is a direct violation of these requirements.
  2. Custodial Interference: If the act contravenes the other parent’s legal custody rights, it could be considered custodial interference under state law. This is particularly relevant if there is a custody order in place specifying travel restrictions or requiring mutual consent for international travel.
  3. International Parental Kidnapping: Under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA), it’s a federal crime to remove a child from the United States or retain a child outside the country with the intent to obstruct another parent’s custodial rights. Violation of this law can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment.
  4. Hague Convention on International Child Abduction: If the country to which the child is taken is a signatory to the Hague Convention, taking a child there without the proper legal precautions could lead to allegations of international child abduction. The Convention provides a process for the return of the child to their country of habitual residence.

 Potential Consequences:

  • Criminal Charges: The parent may face federal criminal charges under the IPKCA, with penalties including fines and imprisonment.
  • Legal Action for Return of the Child: The left-behind parent may initiate legal proceedings under the Hague Convention for the return of the child, or through U.S. courts if the country is not a Hague signatory.
  • Loss of Custody or Parental Rights: The offending parent may face a custody review, and their actions can lead to a modification of custody orders, potentially resulting in the loss of custody or visitation rights.
  • International Legal Complications: Depending on the country to which the child is taken, the parent may also face legal challenges abroad, including detention or legal action for violating passport and immigration laws.

Important Considerations:

Parents should be aware of the legal requirements for international travel with minors, including the need for passports and, in cases of shared custody, the necessity of obtaining consent from the other parent or legal guardian. Violating these laws can have profound implications, not only legally but also on the child’s well-being and the parent-child relationship.





Disclaimer: This information is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. For advice on a specific legal issue, please contact The Mines Law Firm at 888-700-0093.