Having a child travel alone: ​​what you need to know

Do you live abroad and you have a child in France whom you would like to bring to visit you in your country of expatriation? Having a child travel alone necessarily requires a minimum of organization and preparation, but it is not impossible. Here’s what you need to know to help your toddler travel safely by plane or train.

Maximum preparation for a peaceful trip

• Find the right formula. Many airlines or railway companies offer special escort services for children traveling alone. For example, Air France offers the Kids Solo serviceintended for children aged 4 to 17 on domestic flights and 5 to 17 years old on international flights.

If it is not included in the ticket price, count on €50 to €120 for this service, depending on the age of your child and their destination. Your child will be taken to the plane, guided through connections, then escorted to the person receiving them, who will be required to show identification.

With Tap Air Portugal, an accompaniment service exists for children from 5 years oldand from the age of 12 they can choose to travel alone, without this support.

On the train side, SNCF offers Junior & Cie with professional entertainers for children aged 4 to 14, but the destinations are only in France. This can still be useful if he has to reach an airport by train. On the Eurostar, children under 12 are not allowed to travel alone.

Find out on a case-by-case basis depending on the desired transport company.

• Prepare your luggage. For checked baggage, don’t make it too heavy, so that your child can carry it alone if necessary. Also prepare a small hand bag for him with a few essentials: an object that reassures him (a cuddly toy, for example), activities so he doesn’t get bored (books, coloring, games, a console, etc.). ), a small snack and a bottle of water if possible, tissues, warm clothing, comfortable things if he has to spend the night in transport (pajamas, a blanket, a blindfold, etc.) , his medications if he has special needs, explaining to him how to take them and annotating the packaging so that those accompanying him are aware.

• Prepare a folder with all the documents. You can also prepare a small bag for him with all the useful documents. Plane or train ticket, passport or identity card, an information sheet concerning their special needs or allergies, parental authorization to travel and some useful numbers, just in case.

• Reassure him. If this is a first, it is not insignificant for your child, whether he is 4 or 10 years old. Reassure him by explaining to him how the trip will go, by letting him choose the games he takes, by talking to him about the person who will come and pick him up when he arrives… And if it is the parents who need to be reassured, don’t forget that there are tools to track your toddler’s plane or train and know all the details, for example the Air France app.

What documents to travel with?

An unaccompanied minor cannot travel without some precious documents:

  • An identity document : to travel, you will need either your identity card or your passport.
  • A visa : depending on their destination, their nationality and the duration of their stay, they may need a visa. If your child is French, find out more on the site Travel advice.
  • A vaccination record : always depending on his destination, he may need vaccines. Plan ahead because these steps can take time! We inform you here of your child’s vaccination schedule.
  • An authorization to leave the territory (AST) : if your minor child usually resides in France and must leave French territory to join you, he or she will need an AST. You will therefore need to complete a form and provide a copy of proof of identity of the parent who signs the form or, if the latter does not have parental authority, of the person who has specific parental authority. the Public Service website. If your child is not leaving France and does not need AST, he or she must generally still have written parental authorization: find out on a case-by-case basis, depending on the country.

Beware of cases of child abduction, if the child leaves the country without the consent of the other parent. We explain everything to you in this Letter from Expats.

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