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I will be flying with my 5 year old daughter without the mother to Mexico from Germany with transit in the United States. Her grandmother on her mom's side will also be traveling with us.

I was born in Mexico and have acquired German citizenship and kept the Mexican one. I will be traveling with my German passport. I am separated from the mother (she is German; we were never married), but I still have a good relationship with her. My daughter was named according to Mexican law, so her last name is my first last name and her mother's (maiden) last name (to give an example with a fake name: Ana Maria González Müller). Something to note is that the mother has since married someone else and took his name, so her last name is no longer the one on my daughter's last name.

I bought the ticket through Lufthansa but I believe the airline will be United Airlines.

My question is: Is there something I should consider while traveling with my daughter regarding boarding the plane, going through customs or similar? Should I get a signed letter from the mother or something? I will be for sure carrying her birth certificate. What else can I do or take with me?

Edit: -The mother and I have shared custody. -To clarify, I will be entering Mexico with with my Mexican passport as it is required by Mexican law. My daughter has never been to the Mexican consulate in Germany and hence has no Mexican passport or birth certificate.

Update: We will be writing a letter of consent in English, German and Spanish, and we will go to the city hall to get the mom's signature notarized

Thank you

Follow-up: We are back in Germany and everything went smoothly. I took with me a bunch of documents from my daughter including vaccination certificates, but all that was needed was the notarized letter of consent from the mother at the passport control when leaving Germany (apart from the passports and ESTA, of course). For future reference, we got the signatures on the letters notarized at the city hall (Rathaus) and it costed 1,50€ per stamp. Thanks to everyone who answered and commented!

  • Which airline(s)? It would be worth checking whether they have any specific requirements (although the answer from o.m. below probably covers it) – Traveller Mar 31 at 17:16
  • I bought the tickets through Lufthansa but I believe the operating airline will be United Airlines. I will edit the question with this information. – awful Mar 31 at 17:18
  • Dont forget to make sure she is up to date on her vaccines, bring a bottle of Kaopectate, and a bottle of cipro (just in case) – aquagremlin Mar 31 at 20:56
  • Thanks, vaccines and good health insurance are taken care of. Is there a particular reason you mentioned both of these drugs? – awful Mar 31 at 21:08
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    who has legal custody of the child? You, the mother or shared? – Tom Apr 1 at 7:30
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  • If you do not have sole custody, get a letter from the mother stating that she has no objection.
  • The child's passport.
  • Possibly a transit visa for all concerned.

Follow-Up: As far as Germany is concerned, the letter need not be notarized but it should contain the current contact details of the other legal guardian.

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    I would suggest to add something that would easily prove that the woman traveling with you is the child's maternal grandmother. Her saying "yes, my daughter is aware and OK with this" will certainly be invaluable in case some official gets suspicious. – Law29 Mar 31 at 18:23
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    I would also recommend that you ask the mother to have her letter notarized, which is basically a legal attestation that the child's mother was positively identified and confirmed to have signed the letter. – Kyralessa Mar 31 at 20:02
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    @DJClayworth The mom and I have shared custody. I have all my documents regarding my custody rights. – awful Mar 31 at 21:14
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    If he does have sole custody (very unlikely given the grandmother), he should bring the relevant court decree. OP: The notarized letter is essential. I suggest, in fact, that you bring a certified Spanish translation (or a notarized Spanish version), so that you do not have problems being admitted to Mexico. – Andrew Lazarus Apr 1 at 4:14
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    @AndrewLazarus I think that the main difficulty will be leaving the Schengen space. Mexico will not mind having a Mexican bring his daughter along; on the contrary, typically the home countries of separated parents support their case even in illegal cases which amount to "child abduction" and don't e.g. extradite upon US parents' request, warrented as they may be. – Peter A. Schneider Apr 1 at 13:33
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US authorities are generally very aware of potential 'abductions' of children by one parent (against the consent of the other parent); especially for international travel.
Now that should not affect you much, as you are not taking the child out of the US, but simply 'transiting', but it could be they ask you.

The strong recommendation for the US is to have a signed letter from the other parent; if you want to avoid trouble, this would be a good idea to bring.

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    Transiting in the US means that you are admitted temporarily and then leave-- unlike many countries there are no sterile transit areas in US airports, so it's not as special as it might be. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 1 at 1:14
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    I am aware of that; but you would have boarding passes from the incoming flight, so it is easy to show that you are not bringing a child out of the US, but through the US. That would make it a lot less probable for US authorities to consider an abduction. – Aganju Apr 1 at 12:24
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I'm surprised no one mentioned it but in addition to the documentation that @o.m. listed, I would also include a copy of the child's birth certificate. Hopefully this document includes the OPs legal name which would be a good document to show their legal relationship to the child.

I have traveled multiple times with my preschool age son (across state lines but always within the US) and per recommendations by the airlines always bring along a copy of this document. I have yet to been asked to provide it by the airlines or security but it gives me comfort in knowing that if ever questioned I could provide legal documentation of my relationship to my child.

Examples of recommendations from airlines:

  • In my experience the airline and border control personnel never ask for a birth certificate to prove a relationship between parents and children. – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 2 at 7:37

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