Travelling with a child who has a different surname to you

Child playing in the sand at Misquamicut Beach

Travelling with children can be stressful at times, so anything that can lead to delay, questions and stress can make this worse.  As with all things travel related, preparation and research can make life a lot easier.

Lots of people ask questions about travelling with children on travel forums; Does my child need their own seat? How long does my childs passport need to be valid for? What age can my child travel on their own? Do they need to be met at the other airport? We will be covering these topics and more in a series of other posts in the coming weeks.  All designed to answer your frequently asked questions, help you prepare and make travelling a little bit easier and stress free.

If your child has a different surname

If your child has a different surname to you then you will already be familiar with extra paperwork that you have to fill out, assumptions that you have the same name as your child and also the extra paperwork that you will have had to send off to get your childs first passport.  Surely, once you have the passport thats it right? Well, no, not always.

So, if you are travelling with your child or children and they have a different surname or surname variation to you then you may be asked to prove their identity when going through passport control and/or checking it at the airport (this also applies to other border controls at seaports for example and isn’t exclusive to airline travel).

The reason for this is for child protection.  It is to help prevent abductions and child smuggling and routine checks are more frequent now than ever before, even when returning to the UK.

Making the process easier when you travel

So, what you can do to make life a bit easier to prove the child is yours and that you are allowed to be travelling with them.

  • If both of the parents of the child are travelling with the child then there shouldn’t be any questions.  Unless the child has a completely different surname, but if you are both registered as the parents then this should be straightforward.
  • If only one parent or someone else is travelling with your child, such as a grandparent then you should make sure that whoever is travelling with the child has a consent letter signed by any parents that are NOT present.  A simple note explaining the dates of travel, who they are travelling with and the parents full name an if possible get it countersigned, either by a local solicitors (for a small fee) or by a company director, doctor, teacher or other professional who would have been allowed to sign the childs passport photo.

Whilst this isn’t officially recognised by all authorities (including the UK), it will help.  It may avoid further questions or if not will give the contact details for someone who the authorities could contact to verify your claim to the child.

If you are an adoptive or foster parent then the court order saying you are the lawful custodian or guardian of the child should be sufficient.

Official guidance

It is worth checking with the airline if they have any special requirements. The UK Government “Taking a Child Abroad” article is worth reading too.

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