Travelling abroad with children with a different surname

Although the main holiday season is over, half term and Christmas are looming. For families that have remarried and their children’s surname is now different to theirs this can be a problem at airports. It may be that step-parents are travelling with step-children or grandparents are taking the children on holiday. In an effort to prevent child abduction, passport control staff are increasingly asking for proof that you are legally entitled to take that child out of the country.

Parents who are separated or divorced should always give permission for the child/ren to go abroad. The accepted rule is that all persons with parental responsibility should agree to the child being taken on holiday. If you are the child/ren’s mother you automatically have parental responsibility. In the event of a dispute the court can grant permission. The child/ren’s father has parental responsibility if he was married to the mother when the child was born, if the child was born after December 2003 and if he is named on the birth certificate.

"To avoid any problems at the airport it would be a good idea to check with the airline first, to see if they have any specific procedures in place. Take any legal documents you have that provide evidence of your relationship to the child/ren. If there is a court order in place that states holiday arrangements take a copy with you," advises Head of Family Team Andrew Stynes.  "Many families take their children’s friend on holiday with them – make sure you have a letter of consent from the child’s parents which should include their contact details, where you will be staying and your dates of travel," he adds.

Our Family Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Andy or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.