My wife, my 5 year old child, and I would be flying to San Francisco for our German visa. At the consulate, our passports would be collected. My question is how do I fly back with our passports taken? My wife and I have driver license. I guess that might work. But my concern is that we wouldn't have any ID for our child. We would have her birth certificate but since it is not a US birth certificate I am not sure how much stock to put into it. Has anyone had any experience with something similar? I am planning to take copies of all our documents, like passport and visa. Would that help? Any suggestions?

Additional Information: I have Oregon's driver license whereas my wife has a learner's permit. We are flying Alaska from San Francisco.

I was wondering if talking to the TSA when we land there and tell them about our conundrum might be helpful or would that be an exercise in futility?

Final Update: Thank you everyone for your opinions and suggestions. In the end having the driver's license and permit sufficed. I was also ready with bank cards as well as copy of the passports for all of us, but it was not needed.

  • Is it a US or Canadian driver's license? If not, TSA is not going to accept it.
    – phoog
    Mar 31, 2023 at 22:20
  • You don't say where you live while in the US. If you're in California and want ID for your child you can get the child a non-driver ID. Mar 31, 2023 at 23:40
  • 3
    ...Why are they taking away your passports?
    – Vikki
    Apr 1, 2023 at 14:59
  • @Vikki for stamping post checking my documents I assume Apr 1, 2023 at 16:40
  • 2
    @Vikki they probably need a few weeks to process the application.
    – phoog
    Apr 1, 2023 at 18:23

1 Answer 1


my concern is that we wouldn't have any ID for our child.

Children under the age of 18 years do not need to show ID to pass the TSA checkpoint:

Adult passengers 18 and older must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel.


This leaves the airline's ID requirements, but you haven't mentioned which airline. As an example, United:

Children under the age of 18 traveling with an adult are not required to show ID at time of check-in.


In an edit, you note that your wife has only a learner's permit. If it's a photo document that resembles a driver's license, it should be ok. Otherwise, your wife may have trouble and it might indeed be a good idea to check with TSA about that. Another possibility is to ask whether the consulate can allow her to retain her passport for the flight home and then send it to the consulate by mail or courier. Finally, TSA has a procedure for identifying travelers who have lost or forgotten their identification document; my wife (a foreign resident of the US in nonimmigrant status) did this several years ago; it basically consisted of giving them her bank cards whereafter they asked her about various facts that they checked against her credit report. It took a bit longer than usual, of course, but the additional time needed was fairly reasonable.

  • 6
    how do they know one is under 18 if they don't show an ID?
    – njzk2
    Apr 1, 2023 at 17:01
  • @njzk2 I suppose TSA would just have to take the accompanying adult's word for it. In any event, I can imagine that that question would arise in some cases, but surely not here.
    – phoog
    Apr 1, 2023 at 18:22
  • 1
    @njzk2 - several times my (tall for his age) son was asked how old he was before he got his Real ID drivers license at 15. He was travelling with us, and they took his word.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 3, 2023 at 15:45

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