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Home > News > Travelling Abroad with a Child with a Different Surname: What You Need to Know

Travelling Abroad with a Child with a Different Surname: What You Need to Know

20 December 2018 |

Will you be travelling abroad this holiday season with a child with a different surname? 5 Steps you need to take to make customs smoother otherwise you may be refused past check-in or turned away at border control.

It is not uncommon in 2018 for parents not to be married or to be raising their child independently. If you do not share the same name as your children or if you are travelling abroad without anyone else who shares parental responsibility or if your child is going to be going on holiday with grandparents or other relatives with a different last name, chances are you/they will be asked to evidence their identity and how they are related to you. Therefore, it is vital you have the correct documentation to hand to ensure that you minimise the problems this may cause at an airport.

1. Additional documents required

In order to evidence the child’s relationship to you and to assist with any confusion as to the differing surnames please ensure that you have the necessary documentation:-

  • Carry evidence of your relationship to your child – for example a birth certificate which clearly states your name and relation to your child or an adoption certificate. 
  • If you are divorced and reverted back to your maiden name – take a copy of your Decree Absolute and/or Change of Name Deed 
  • If you have recently re-married – take a copy of your marriage certificate
  • If you have changed your name by deed poll – take a copy of your change of name deed
  • If absent parent has passed away – take a copy of the death certificate if obtainable

2. Permission/Consent

Some parents may not realise that taking a child abroad (outside of England and Wales) without permission of anyone else with parental responsibility is child abduction and therefore a criminal offence!

A letter from anyone else with parental responsibility is usually enough to show that you have permission to take them abroad. Make sure you give as much detail as possible in the permission letter including contact details of the person giving consent; the child’s passport details and information of any other documentation you are providing together with any information about the trip they are going on the date of travel planned destinations and when the child is returning to the UK. Thisetter should be signed, dated and witnessed.

If you are a grandparent taking your grandchild abroad then a letter from the child’s parents stating that the child has permission to travel abroad with the person accompanying them may simplify the process at the airport.

If you have not got permission from every person with parental responsibility and they are not prepared to provide consent you will need to apply to the Court for permission to take a child abroad. GL Family Team would be able to help with the application process and provide clear advice about permission to take a child abroad. If you envisage that there would be difficulties obtaining consent, the sooner you can obtain legal advise the better as if an application is necessary it may take time to obtain a Court hearing.

3. Child Arrangement Order

If you have a Child Arrangements Order which specifically states the child lives with you then you can take the child aboard for one month without getting the said permission. You will need a copy of any Child Arrangement Order which supports that you have court approval to take the child abroad. Please note that you must seek permission from the other person with parental responsibility if you are removing the child from England a Wales for anything more than one month.

Additionally, if you have been granted permission from the Court to take the child abroad please ensure you take a copy of the Order with you (known as a Specific Issue Order).

4. Check with your relevant airline

Different airlines have different requirements. It would assist if you contacted the airline prior to arriving at the airport to ensure that you have all of the information/documentation required.

5. Check with the relevant embassy

Please be aware that every country has its own requirements for children travelling without their parents or with one parent. Therefore, please check the requirements of the country which you are travelling.

If you would like further advice and assistance on children matters please do not hesitate to contact our Family Team who specialise in Private Children Matters.


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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