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With the Easter holidays fast approaching, many parents might be planning a family trip overseas. However, for those who have a different surname from their child, travelling abroad with them can be more difficult.

In this blog, Family Law solicitor Simeon Bowen-Fanstone considers the legalities and practicalities of taking your child on holiday outside of the UK when they don’t share your surname.

The short answer to whether you can take your child abroad if they have a different surname is yes, you can.

However, preparation is key, and will ensure that your holiday runs smoothly, and without mishap.

Travelling abroad with a child with a different surname commonly occurs where one party is divorced from their child’s other parent, or they have remarried taking on a new name.

Alternatively, you could have married but chosen not to take on your spouse’s surname, whilst the children do have it. Or it could simply be the case that you are an unmarried couple with children.

While most parents will accept that checks need to be in place at airports, international train stations and ports to protect children from the risk of abduction, these checks have caused many parents, and their children, a lot of stress and upset over the years.

However, there are a few simple tips to ensure your holiday passes without incident.

  1. Be prepared!

Ensure you carry the right documentation. Depending on your personal circumstances, authorities will need to be satisfied of the relationship you have with your child. You may need to bring:

  • Proof of your change of name. You may have changed your name by change of name deed, or you may need to take your marriage certificate or final order of divorce with you.
  • Child’s birth certificate. This will provide officials with the name of the child, their date and place of birth, which should always match the details on their passports.It will also state the full names of both parents when the child was born. It is important to check whether your name has changed since the birth of your child and to take the supporting documentation with you.
  • Passports. It goes without saying that you will need to take your passports with you.
  1. Prepare the children.

Depending on the age of your children, it is advisable to alert them to the fact that officials may ask them questions.

You should stress to them that they do not need to worry about this, but that they should answer the officials’ questions clearly and honestly – now is not the time for games or inventing a new name for themselves!

  1. Permission to take my child abroad?

The law is very clear regarding international travel with a child: if a parent intends to travel outside of the UK with a child, then they need to obtain permission from everyone who shares parental responsibility for the child, or permission from the court.

This applies regardless of whether the child shares the same surname as the travelling parent. Failure to obtain the necessary permission can be considered child abduction, which is a criminal offence.

You should ask everyone who shares parental responsibility for your child with you to provide a letter of consent, clearly stating their agreement to the child’s travel.

Are there any exceptions?

A parent with a Child Arrangements Order specifying that the child lives with them can take the child abroad for a period of 28 days without seeking permission from the other parent. In these circumstances, it is essential to take a copy of the Court Order with you when you travel.

Ensuring you have obtained the necessary permissions where required, and carrying the relevant supporting documentation with you, should ensure a smooth travel experience for you and your child.

Enjoy your holidays!

Child Law Solicitors Near Me

At Onions & Davies, our Family lawyers are specialists in legal issues relating to children.

We provide compassionate advice on child law matters to individuals and families in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Worcestershire, Birmingham, and the Black Country and beyond.

From our main office in Market Drayton, our private client child law solicitors support clients across various locations, including the towns and surrounding villages of Telford, Shrewsbury, Crewe, Nantwich, Stoke on Trent, Newcastle Under Lyme, Whitchurch, and Newport.

If you wish to make an appointment with our Family Law Solicitor, Simeon Bowen-Fanstone, please contact Simeon at or call the Family Law Team on 01630 411226.

To find out more about how we can help, click here.