A Quick Way to Avoid Delays if Your Child Has a Different Surname
If you’re planning to travel abroad with a child under the age of 18 and you’re not the child’s parent or legal guardian or have a different surname, you and the child may be asked some questions at the check-in desk or at border control. This procedure has recently increased and is affecting more and more families as they travel to and from the UK.
Why Does This Happen?
This procedure was introduced to protect and safeguard children from possible abductions. Each country has different guidelines, so if you’re in doubt we would advise checking the relevant country’s embassy. It is also worth taking into consideration the age limit of the country you are travelling to, each destination has different rules as to what they class as minors.
What do I need to do?
If you are the child’s mother you automatically have parental responsibility. However, if you have a different surname to your child, you will need to take documentation to prove you are the child’s parent. This could include yours and or your child’s birth certificate. If you are travelling with a child who isn’t under your care then you will need permission from the child’s parent.
It is always helpful if you carry the relevant documents, so if asked, you can show what your relationship is to the child. Although this is not compulsory at the moment, it may speed up things at the airport. The documents required will include birth or adoption papers and marriage certificates, especially if you’re travelling under your maiden name and the child has a different surname.
A letter of consent from the parent or guardian who isn’t travelling will be required, particularly if the parents are separated, divorced or the child is travelling with grandparents or extended family members. If you’re unsure of what to write in the letter, various consent letter templates are available to download on the internet.
If you do not have permission from those with parental responsibility to take the child abroad then you will need to apply to a court.
If you need further information then we would recommend you check with the relevant country’s embassy.