Travelling abroad with children requires extra planning. Following divorce or separation, one parent may wish to take their child abroad on holiday. It may also be the case that your child is an unaccompanied traveller visiting friends or family abroad. This advice is also relevant to grandparents, friends and unmarried parents travelling with children.
Before you purchase that ticket, remember the following:
- Consent: Removal of a child from this jurisdiction without consent from everyone with parental responsibility is child abduction. This is a criminal offence. Written consent from everyone with parental responsibility needs to be obtained in advance of travel with a child and for the child to have to hand if travelling unaccompanied.
- Court Order Exception: If you have a Child Arrangements Order whereby the child lives with you (a “lives-with Order”) you can travel abroad with your child for up to 28 days without written consent from the other parent. However, it is always advisable to get written consent to avoid disappointment.
- Destination Rules: It is not simply a case of obtaining a letter of consent from your ex-spouse or partner. Some countries require parents to fill out and certify standardised consent forms for travelling with children. For instance, to enter South Africa, a sworn/affirmed Parental Consent Affidavit is required. To enter Austria, the standardised “Einverständniserklärung des/der Sorgeberechtigten,” (the Declaration of Parental/Guardian’s Consent) is required. You should check the foreign affairs department of the destination country and any transit country and be prepared.
- Passports and More: Do not forget your child’s passport, birth certificate (long form preferable), your marriage certificate, Child Arrangements Order if you have one and any change of name deed. It is advisable to take certified copies and the originals.
- Gatekeeping: Most airlines will require consent letters from everyone with parental responsibility for the child before check-in. You may wish to check the airline’s policy in advance.
Unable to obtain consent?
Where a parent is unable to obtain consent from the relevant party with parental responsibility, an application can be made to the Court for permission to travel but this should be done well in advance.
Child travelling abroad without your consent?
If you are concerned that your child may be travelling without your consent, consider making an application to the Court to prevent removal of the child from the jurisdiction and reporting the matter to the Police. Child abduction is a criminal offence and port alerts can be put into place.
If in doubt, you should seek legal advice in relation to these matters. If you require assistance, please contact us.