If you plan to travel internationally any time soon with children, beware - there is a new sensitivity out there among customs officials worldwide about illegal trafficking in children. It is beginning to create major problems for ordinary travelers. For example, you simply aren't allowed on the plane in Miami to some South American countries with a child unless both parents are traveling, or the single parent has a letter from the other authorizing the trip. The problems can get even more serious if you try to travel with children whose last names, for various legitimate reasons, do not match your own. What occasions this mention is our receipt this month of a letter from a subscriber whose name need not be divulged here. Seems she ran into a very serious child-related problem this year in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
She writes: "My husband and I went to Zimbabwe this year with our 13-year-old daughter who has a different last name than we do. I always carry her father's death certificate with us, because her passport is in her birth father's surname. When it came time to pay the fee to get in the country the woman looking at the passports in the Bulawayo airport could not understand how she could be my daughter with a different surname. When I tried to explain to her repeatedly, she finally just let me pay a separate fee for her. But then another man had to stamp passports, and he did not understand either. He wanted to send us to Harare to `sort things out'. This was very upsetting after almost three days of traveling. I finally convinced the customs agent that I had paid separate fees, so - even if she wasn't my daughter - we had paid the necessary fees for her to enter the country. He let us in. We have since changed our daughter's last name to ours to prevent this in the future. Fellow subscribers may want to note this problem if they travel with children and carry all the documentation they can think of with them. Even then, they should be aware tha........(continued)