Do you have a different surname to your child?

Cohabiting couples are on the increase in the UK, being the fastest growing family type between 1996 and 2016, more than doubling from 1.5 million families to 3.3 million families. Add that to the number of couples with children who divorce and then either re-marry or change their names, and you find that many children do not now have the same surname as both of their parents.

Border Control may ask you to prove the relationship between yourself and any child travelling with you, especially if you don’t seem to be the parent, eg. if you have a different surname. These checks are designed to help prevent child abduction.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare yourself for any questions that might arise.

You can prove your relationship with a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child.

If you’ve changed your name, perhaps following divorce or remarriage, you can carry your marriage certificate or decree absolute.

You may wish to take a certified copy of your documents instead, in which case you may need to use the services of a notary, who deals with certifying documents for use abroad. To find a notary, try The Notaries Society.

Do I need permission to take my child abroad?

Taking a child abroad without permission is child abduction. You must therefore get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking a child abroad.

If you have a child arrangements order in place which states that the child must live with you, then you can take the child abroad for up to 28 days without obtaining permission, unless the order states that you can’t.

It is always best to check the legal requirements of any country that you travel to when you are travelling with children, particularly if you are travelling alone, without the other parent.  Check with Foreign Embassies in the UK before you travel.  Some countries require extra documentation, such as letters of consent.

You may be asked for letters of consent at the UK border, or a foreign border.  It is wise to ensure you have a letter confirming the consent of every person with parental responsibility before travelling.  The letter should include the other person’s contact details and the details of the trip itinerary.

If you don’t have permission of everyone with parental responsibility, or they are not willing to provide it, then you’ll need to apply to court for permission to take your child abroad.  We can give you advice on this procedure and represent you at court if this becomes necessary.

Contact Shelley Cook on 023 9267 5555 or email [email protected]

Office for National Statistics: Families and households in the UK: 2016