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Essential Advice for Taking Children Abroad

With the holidays fast approaching, many parents will need to consider arrangements for the season.

Coming to an agreement regarding arrangements for children over the school holidays can be an intimidating experience for many separated parents.  Conflicting ideas about when children should spend time with each parent and where they should be can be difficult to agree.

Taking Your Child Abroad

It is important to understand that the starting point when contemplating taking your child abroad is that you must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for that child or a Court Order prior to taking the child abroad.  A letter from the other parent with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you have permission to take them abroad.  Failure to obtain permission and subsequently taking a child abroad is child abduction.

Further documentary evidence that may be useful to have with you when travelling is evidence of your relationship to the child (i.e. birth certificate) or evidence as to why your surname may be different from that of your child’s (i.e. divorce or marriage certificate).

If you have a Child Arrangements Order which states the child lives with you, you can take the child abroad for up to 28 days without needing the other parent’s permission.

If the other parent refuses to consent to the proposal to take your child abroad, you will need to apply to the Court for such permission.  This is done by way of a Specific Issue Order.

If Your Child is Being Taken Abroad

It can be very daunting for parents to be asked for consent for their child to be taken abroad.  If you are concerned about your child being taken abroad, you do not have to consent.  Without your consent, the other parent should not take your child abroad, unless they receive permission from the Court, or they have a Child Arrangements Order as detailed above.

If you believe the other parent is going to take your child abroad without your consent, an application to the Court can be made by way of a Prohibited Steps Order.  If there is any concern that the child will not be returned from holiday it is of paramount importance that the application is made quickly and before departure.

Top Tips for Parents Tackling Holiday Arrangements

There are a few practical considerations you can take to ensure you are both fully satisfied with the arrangements:

  • Communication – emails are a great way of communicating holiday arrangements to encourage open and honest communication and prevent ambiguity and disagreement at a later date.
  • Compromise – entering into discussions with the other parent with an open mind and willingness to compromise is the most constructive way to approach child care arrangements.
  • Plan Ahead – consider the details that the other parent will need in advance of the children going away. The following may be helpful to provide to the other parent:
    • Contact details of where the children are staying whilst on holiday and of anyone else accompanying them.
    • Contact details for the children’s doctor in case of a medical emergency.
    • Medical insurance details.
  • Existing Arrangements – If applicable, parents should consider any existing child arrangements when discussing holiday plans. If existing child arrangements need to be amended, this must be mutually agreed by the parents before either parent acts on the changes.

Either parent may need to consider taking legal advice before taking their child abroad or consenting to their child being taken abroad.  It can help to ensure that you have the required documents and avoids the awful pre-holiday panic of dealing with legal technicalities last minute.  Should parents not be on amicable terms, we can also help with formal correspondence and encourage communication between parties.

If you need any assistance relating to your children going abroad, please do not hesitate to contact our Family & Relationships department on 01264 400500.


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.