Traveling with children is stressful, and getting through airport security is the first hurdle. Long waits in lines, the organizing of bins on the conveyor belt and juggling everyone’s carry on luggage can fray the nerves of the calmest parent. Although the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not require children to present identification, airlines and U.S. Customs do.

TSA Requirements

The TSA requires that adult passengers ages 18 and older show valid photo ID at the security checkpoint. This can include things such as a driver's license or other state photo identity card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent state agency, U.S. Passport, permanent resident card or other equivalent documents. Make sure to check on the TSA's website to check for an updated list of valid identification documents. Children, however, are not required to present such identification. This does not mean, however, that children will be able to fly without it.

Airline Identification Requirements

Airlines do not typically require identification from passengers under the age of 18, but there are exceptions. Children under the age of 2 may ride on a parent’s lap without purchasing a ticket, but the airline will require identification, such as a birth certificate, to prove the child’s date of birth. Unaccompanied minors may also be required to show identification to prove age; children under the age of 5 are not allowed to travel unaccompanied. Other age restrictions apply to different types of flights.

Traveling Internationally

All children must have a passport when flying internationally, even newborn babies. Though it might not be required to present this identification at the TSA checkpoint, it is necessary to present it at the gate, prior to boarding. Both parents are required to sign passport applications for minors and they may not be renewed by mail.

For Those Who Are Not the Child's Parent or Guardian

For those who are not the parent or guardian of the child being traveled with, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends to have a notarized documentation stating that the accompanying guardian has permission to take the child on the trip. The same applies in cases where children are not accompanied by both parents. CBP recommends that both parents sign a letter stating, “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/she/they has/have my permission to do so.” While this documentation is not a requirement in the U.S., other countries, such as Canada, may refuse entry without it.