Travelling Abroad as a separated Parent or unaccompanied child

As the summer holidays are in full swing and people are able to go abroad again, have you considered what may happen if you travel abroad with your child and you are stopped at departures and asked do you have permission to take your child on holiday by all that have parental responsibility?

If you have a child arrangements order in your favour that names you as the parent your child lives with then by law you are able to take them abroad for up to one month or for such period as the court has granted you specific consent to travel on that holiday. In order to avoid possible hold-ups at passport control then it’s good practice to have a copy of the Child Arrangements Order/Court Order with you.

What is Parental Responsibility?

Parental responsibility sets out all the rights, duties and responsibilities one holds as a parent towards their child.

Parental responsibility enables each parent to have equal say in choosing their child’s education, naming their child and agreeing to medical treatment among others.

Mothers acquire parental responsibility following the birth of a child. Fathers acquire parental responsibility if they were married to the child’s mother at the time of birth or are named on the child’s birth certificate.

Even parents with parental responsibility should obtain each other’s consent to travel abroad with their children. It would be wise to travel with a letter from the other parent or people with parental responsibility providing this consent. It would also be sensible to take this step even if the child’s father does not have PR (i.e. father was not married to the mother at the time of birth or not named on the birth certificate).

If you have a different surname to that of the child or have adopted a child you should travel with a copy of your child’s adoption/birth certificate which names you as their parent. If there has been a name change then again have a copy of that with you too when travelling.

Children Travelling Alone

If your child is travelling abroad unaccompanied to visit family, or friends or go on holiday with friends then different countries have different rules but most countries require a consent form for entry of unaccompanied children. You should check the rules for the country travelling to and from.

Some airlines do operate unaccompanied minor schemes but will require parental permission up to their respective mandatory age requirement. Check the rules with the airline even if your child is over 16 but under 18 airlines have different policies so do check before travelling.

We at CP Law Solicitors can assist you with obtaining permission for you to take your child abroad whether that be by way of liaising with the other parent, applying to the court for an order allowing you to travel abroad with your child or writing letters on your behalf for granting permission to travel abroad with the child and asking the other parent to sign.

For further information please call the family department on 0345 241 3100, email us at or visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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