Aside from remembering to pack the essentials (snacks, toys) and the all-important passports, there are other considerations a single parent needs to take into account when travelling abroad with their children; especially when they do not share the same surname.
Family Law Solicitor Sonal Parekh shares her guidance for single parents preparing to travel abroad at any time of year - whether during the summer school holidays, half term, a long weekend, ski trip or mini break.
Usually, both parents of a child have Parental Responsibility for them, and must consent to any child travelling outside of England and Wales. The exception to this is where the parent travelling with the child has a “Lives With” Order from the Court. This usually gives that parent the ability to take the child out of England and Wales for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent. If the other parent doesn’t consent it will be necessary to make an application to the Court requesting permission, known as a Specific Issue application.
The UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) are alert to the risks of child abduction (where one parent removes a child from the country without a court order or the consent of the other) and are also on alert for child trafficking. So, if you are planning on travelling solo with your child(ren), you will need to take a few extra things to the airport with you, for example written consent from the non-travelling parent, particularly if the child does not have the same surname as the travelling parent.
The same applies to grandparents who wish to travel with their grandchildren. They too will be required to present to Boarder Control explicit authority from both parents of the child(ren) to take them abroad.
Some points for single parents to consider before travelling with their children:
- Check with your airline – do they have any specific requirements for you or the child?
- Check with the embassy of the country you intend to travel to – what are their requirements? Some countries have specific and strict requirements such as the USA. Whilst you may have the correct documents to leave the UK with, you may need additional documents to gain entry into that country.
- Court Order – if you have a Court Order, it is a good idea to take a sealed copy with you, which permits you to travel with the child.
- Letter of Authority – have a letter of authority from the parent(s) or holders of parental responsibility not travelling with the child providing their permission for the child to be taken out of England and Wales. Check this point with the embassy of the country you are visiting as some require a particular format, and may want a sworn affidavit from the other parent.
- Birth or Adoption Certificate for the child– it is worth taking this along, and if your surname is different to the child, you should also carry with you your own birth certificate, marriage certificate or Decree Absolute/ Final Order in Divorce if you were married to the non-travelling parent but are now divorced.