All holders of Parental Responsibility (usually mums and dads) must consent to any child travelling outside of England and Wales except where the parent travelling has a “Lives With” Court Order in their favour (previously a Residence Order/ Sole custody order), where they can remove the child for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent, or a Specific Issue Order.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) are alert to the risk of child abduction (one parent removing a child from the country without the consent of the other) and also child trafficking. They will often now check that the adult travelling has the appropriate consent, particularly if the child does not have the same surname. Mumsnet have provided a helpful guide to single parents travelling abroad available here and further information may be found on the Home Office website here.
In summary the key points are:-
- Check with your airline if they have any specific requirements;
- Check with your local embassy in the UK if there are any specific requirements;
- Check with the embassy in the country you are travelling to if there any specific requirements (and age limit for a minor, as it may not be the same as in England and Wales). This is particularly important as some countries have very specific and strict requirements such as South Africa and the USA, thus although you may have what documents you need to leave the UK, you may not have what you need to be granted entry to the country you are traveling to;
- Bring a sealed copy of any court order you have permitting you to travel alone and check with your solicitor if you need anything additionally, such as to have your order apostilled;
- Bring a consent letter from the parent(s) or holders of parental responsibility not accompanying you;
- Bring the child’s birth or adoption certificate and if you have a different surname to the children, also bring your marriage certificate or Decree Absolute if you were married to the non-accompanying parent but are no longer married.