17 yr old traveling to US alone?

Old Sep 20, 19, 3:22 pm
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17 yr old traveling to US alone?

My son is seventeen and we live in Norway. He has a valid ESTA. He would like to travel alone to visit family in the US. Is he allowed to travel to and enter the US alone? What additional documents, if any, would he need?
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:26 pm
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Since you're asking in the BA forum, can we assume that he would be connecting on BA through LHR? Any domestic flights in the USA?
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:29 pm
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He could be married with kids and serving in the UK infantry at that age!

No particular documents are needed, it's more about whether this is going to sound plausible to the USA CBP in terms of him respecting the terms of the ESTA. So some documents indicating why he would need to leave the USA in due course would be helpful (e.g. to resume studies), along with full details (addresses, phone numbers) of the relatives would perhaps be helpful. It's not so unusual for 17 year olds to be travelling solo so I doubt there would be a problem.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:37 pm
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I'd suggest having a signed letter from both parents giving permission for the travel and also permission for adult family members to authorize medical care and make medical decisions, especially in an emergency (medical power of attorney). The letter should give address and phone numbers for you and for the relatives he'll be visiting. He should have a credit card (or similar) for emergencies. Note that if a flight is delayed/cancelled/diverted, at 17 he cannot check into a USA hotel, even with an airline voucher. [A few USA airlines offer optional paid UM service through age 17, but he would hate traveling that way.]
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:40 pm
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Hopefully a MOD will be along to move this as it has nothing to do with BA, even if he is flying BA.

There are no particular legal requirements. But, the following are considerations:

1. CBP's concern is that he will not leave the country and will become a "burden" to the US as a minor. Thus, proof that he in school, expects to return to school (or has a job) and has family support in Norway, are all important.
2. He should have some documentation that he will be supported or has the means to support himself in the US.
3. He should have properly notarized English-language documents authorizng the relatives to approve medical treatment (not a CBP requirement, but common sense)
4. He should have properly notarized statements from you as his parents acknowledging his overseas travel alone as a minor (not a CBP direct requirement, but a human trafficking concern).

Finally, he should have mobile numbers for the relatives and someone ought to be available to speak with CBP (by phone) if there are any questions.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:40 pm
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Yes and yes. BA and connecting flights. 1 week school break.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:41 pm
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OK. Thanks all!
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Old Sep 20, 19, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by ovenor View Post
Yes and yes. BA and connecting flights. 1 week school break.
Some USA carriers could have their own rules about underage travelers. Check whether a notarized permission letter is required, for instance. For most purposes in the USA, anyone under 18 is a minor unless the kid has been officially emancipated from his/her parents, for example upon marriage (although alcohol is forbidden below age 21 and increasingly so is tobacco and related products).

It probably doesn't apply, but if your son wants to drive at all in the USA, an international license might be required.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 4:21 pm
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In addition to what is mentioned above, it would definitely be helpful if your son has a printed copy of his itinerary showing his return flights to Norway. That is prima facie evidence that he plans to leave the USA. Don't forget that he will also need an ESTA.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 4:57 pm
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There are no US carriers which impose any specialized document requirement on a 17 YOA traveling alone. Parents permission, notarized or not, is simply not required.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 5:45 pm
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Heíll be fine. This might get censored, but if heís white coming from a developed country heíll have no issues.
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Old Sep 20, 19, 11:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Geordie405 View Post
In addition to what is mentioned above, it would definitely be helpful if your son has a printed copy of his itinerary showing his return flights to Norway. That is prima facie evidence that he plans to leave the USA. Don't forget that he will also need an ESTA.
As above.
expect Immigration in the US to look for:
  • the purpose of his trip, and his ability to substantiate he is on holiday/studying/business). (Where will he stay, what will he do)
  • The duration of the stay and proof of return flights. (To satisfy he wonít be trying to stay and work illegally)
  • The traveller to have enough funds to support himself during the stay. (Pre booked/arranged (and paid) place to stay etc) (To satisfy he wonít be homeless and a possible nuisance to the social system)
  • if no funds, proof on how he will be supported during his stay. (To satisfy he wonít be working illegally).
Donít be silly/funny and jokingly lie he is on a business trip if he isnít.

If he has answers to the questions, answers truthfully he will be fine.

Globalist
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Old Sep 21, 19, 12:34 am
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My family lived in the US and I used to travel without a guardian from the age of 15+ (LHR to IAD) and it was never an issue. I'd even take my brother when he was 13 - We were both seasoned travellers.

I assume nothing has changed in the last 10 to 15 years
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Old Sep 21, 19, 1:20 am
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Easy peasy lemon squeezy. My 17-year old did this a few weeks ago. CBP at EWR couldnít have been less interested. The standard questions and off she went about one minute later. It is useful to have a letter signed by parents, plus itinerary etc, but it is so common that no one bats an eyelid.
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Old Sep 21, 19, 7:28 am
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Last summer my wife and I traveled from Africa to the US with a 17 year old who is not our son. CBP at JFK never batted an eye. We are all US citizens.

Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It probably doesn't apply, but if your son wants to drive at all in the USA, an international license might be required.
Considering that the minimum age to drive in Norway is 18 (besides moped or tractor), he wouldn't have a driver's license.
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