Travelling with children – Passport, permission and proof

The school six weeks holidays have arrived, families are busy planning their summer holidays and ensuring that they don’t forget any essentials, sunglasses – check, sun cream – check, passport – check, but is that enough?

In the UK, it is extremely common for families to be made up of members with different surnames. – Families where parents are not married, blended families, those with adopted children, those where partners have kept their own surnames following marriage or civil partnership, the list goes on.

In instances such as these, parents may find themselves travelling abroad for holidays with a child with a different surname to them. Whilst this scenario is quite commonplace, there may be additional checks faced and a requirement to provide additional documentation by the travel companies and airport authorities.

With a rise in security measures to protect children from unlawfully being taken out of the country, Border control staff may question any person who is travelling with a child with a different surname as to their relationship with the child and require evidence of this relationship. Documents such as a birth or adoption certificate showing the relationship with the child (if you are the parent), in addition to divorce or marriage certificates if you are the parent but with a different surname will provide evidence of your relationship.

However, in instances where a child is travelling with another family member, such as grandparents, it is recommended that a Letter of Consent is obtained from someone who has parental responsibility for the child, such as their parents. A Letter of Consent grants that a child has permission to travel with the person specified.

Whilst a Letter of Consent may be sufficient, it is recommended that prior to travelling, if you are travelling with a child with different surname that guidance is sought from the Embassy of the destination country or travel agents.

Regarding travelling with children with different surnames, Nicholas Clough, Family solicitor commented:

“Travelling with children with different surnames is extremely commonplace and in most circumstances does not present an issue. However, if you do have a different name to the child you are travelling with or even your Passport shows a different name, such as a maiden name, it is recommended that additional documentation is taken with you. There is nothing more embarrassing than being questioned and refused entry onto a plane, with other passengers thinking you may be kidnapping a child!

We have seen instances recently where relatives travelling with children have been advised that a witnessed Letter of Consent is required in order to enable travel. This is a security measure that some travel companies or countries require and a failure to have such a document could result in being refused boarding onto a plane”.

If you would like to discuss obtaining a Letter of Consent or have questions regarding travelling with consent of another person with parental responsibility, please contact Nicholas Clough on 07538 385956, by email to Nicholas.Clough@psg-law.co.uk or by calling  into our Altrincham office at 1 The Downs.