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Planning a trip abroad with children after separation?

View profile for Francesca Cozens
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If your surname is different from your child’s, here is what you need to know when travelling abroad with them.

Planning a holiday after separation can bring with it some additional complications. If you are planning to travel abroad with a child and your child’s surname is different from yours then you need to pack some additional documentation to ensure that your holiday is not ruined by a refusal to leave or enter a country.

Why do I need extra documentation to travel abroad with my child?

Taking a child outside England and Wales, without the other parent’s consent, could be classed as child abduction. There has been a steady annual increase in the number of people in England and Wales being charged with child abduction offences.

In the UK alone, there were 1189 child abduction offences in 2017/2018. Countries are therefore taking a more robust approach to protecting children. In many countries, including England, those travelling with children now queue separately at passport control.

What do I need to do when planning to go abroad with my child?

There is a high probability that you will be asked questions by Border Control to establish your relationship with the child. We advise that you should travel with documentation to show your relationship to the child such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, Decree Absolutes (which confirm divorce) or change of name deeds to evidence your relationship to the child.

Letters of authority or letters of consent

If you are travelling with your child and they do not share your surname, then a letter from the other parent who holds parental responsibility can be helpful. The letter should state their permission to travel abroad. This is not a guarantee but can assist with border control.

Ultimately, you should check the requirements of the country that you are travelling to, to establish their rules. For example, when travelling to the USA, when one parent is travelling alone with a child they must provide evidence that the child lives with them (such as a court order) or a notarised letter confirming the consent of the other parent. Birkett Long has 2 qualified notary publics, and you can read more about our notary services here.

It is your responsibility to check travel requirements

Parents should check with the relevant Embassy, before travel, to establish whether formal consent is required. Formal consent is required where only one parent travels to South Africa, Portugal, Russia and the USA.

Be prepared.

Before booking a holiday you should ensure that you have the consent of all of those who hold parental responsibility to travel abroad. If this consent is not forthcoming, or you need further advice as you are planning on travelling abroad with your children, or have concerns as to arrangements for their care, please give me a call for a free 15 minute telephone consultation on 01245 453843 or email me