Travelling abroad with children

Posted: Sunday July 29 2018

By: Abbie Coleman

Travelling abroad with children can  be an extremely rewarding experience that creates long lasting and fond memories for both parent and child but if you are travelling as a single parent or with someone else’s child it is one which can quickly end prematurely if the correct legal preparations for the holiday have not been made.

Travelling abroad with children

By Emma Davison – Invalesco Family Law

Before you seek to travel abroad it is imperative that you consider the following:-

Do you have consent to take the child on the proposed trip (ideally in writing) from everyone who has parental responsibility for the child; or if not

(b) Do you have a court order that permits you to remove the child.  This could either:-

(i) Specifically refer to and permit the intended trip only; or

(ii) And as is more common, could be a court order in which you are named as the person with whom the child normally resides.  In this respect, such an order would enable you to remove the child from the jurisdiction for anywhere up to one month at any time without requiring further action first to be taken.

If the answer is “no” to both of the above and you still travel with the child, your actions could amount to the criminal offence of child abduction being committed.

As parental responsibility can be shared by

A number of people, it is important that everyone with parental responsibility for the child is consulted and has given permission for the trip to occur before the child is removed from the jurisdiction.  In the absence of a court order permitting such a trip, it is not enough for a person to be the parent of a child if the consent of everyone else with parental responsibility hasn’t also been obtained to the child being removed from the jurisdiction.

If you need to make an application to court, always remember to allow sufficient time for this to be dealt with.  Don’t leave it to the eve of your holiday as applications to the court take time to be resolved and a lack of planning on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on the court’s part. If you have left it very late to apply to court, having known about your proposed trip a lot  earlier, then don’t be surprised if the court does not offer you much sympathy.


It’s  worth bearing in mind that if you are travelling to another country with a child and are not that child’s parent, or if you and the child have different surnames, you may need to bring extra documents with you to establish your relationship to the child and ensure that the transition in and out of the country is as smooth as it can be.  Such evidence might include a copy of a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child; divorce or marriage certificates if you are the child’s parent but have a different surname; or a letter from one or both of the child’s parents, with contact details, giving consent for the child to travel with you if, for example, you are the child’s grandparent and even if you share the same surname.