Hi - I need some help. We are going to Cozumel this summer. My children are 14 and 17. I have sole custody. They do not have their passports. I will take certified copies of birth certificates. I know passports are the best for identification, but will they help if there is a custody issue? And what kind of issue could I even face? We are going on a cruise ship, stopping there for less than one day, planning on getting off the ship to go to Chankanaub, and then getting back on to sail on. I just don't even know what it is we could face, if anything, where we would need something additional.
Oh - and do I need to be as concerned in Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, or at the cruise line's island of Labadee?
Please - those of you well-seasoned cruisers... educate me.
I can pass along my experience, as an example of what could happen. . .
In 1999 I took my then 11 year old daughter on her first cruise with me, on a Western itinerary. I have joint custody, and had read in the fine print of the cruise brochure that I needed to take a notarized statement from the absent parent consenting to the travel. So I was very careful to follow the rules.
Unfortunately, when we got off the ship in Cozumel, I carried my ID but forgot my daughter's. We did have our cruise cards; however at that time they were not personalized with pictures. When we tried to reboard, what appeared to be local authorities at the ganway pulled us apart and started peppering my daughter with questions such as "What city were you born in? ", "What's your birth date?", etc.
I'm sure they were trying to determine if she was with me of her own free will. At the time it was rather uspetting and disturbing, although I recognized we were in a foreign land and subject to their procedures.
I've since ben very careful to carry our ID with us in all ports, but in the 4 cruises we've taken since, we've never been stopped like that.
You are wise to find out ahead of time exactly how to deal with the situation.
If I were yhou, I would check with an atty. and I would be sure to check on exactly what docs my kids needed before I took 'em out of the country. As grim as it sounds, I think my husband is right that people need to be reminded of the seriousness of leaving the U.S. We are then guests of another country and have no citizen's rights whatsoever.
Absolutely, contact your atty. These are your kids. The State Dept. is okay if you have a lot of time. Heaven knows when you'll get a response from the bureuacracy. Also, I always find gov. sites to be daunting. You wander around in cyberspace never finding what you need, and never in contact with a human. With the atty, you'll find out what you need immediately, and if you have questions, they get answered right away, and yhou can comply with the laws.
you will need some type of documentation stating that you have sole custody of your children( some type of notarized letter) you will also need the raised seal long-form of their birth certificates and a photo id., passport is still the best.
Your court papers should be O.K. that show you have sole custody but if your ex has visitation rights you will still need the notorized authorization from him. The 17 year old will need a BC plus a government issued I.D. but the 14 year old will only need a BC.