Do You Need a Child Travel Consent Form?

child travel consent form

IN THIS ARTICLE

If you share parental responsibility for your child with someone else, such as your former partner, you may need to ensure that you have their consent before you take your child away, both to avoid legal issues and family tensions. In some cases, you may need written confirmation of this permission in the form of a child travel consent form.

There are many different scenarios in which permission is commonly required or can be useful to ensure seamless travel, including where a child will be travelling with just one parent or legal guardian. Other common scenarios in which authorities may question the legality of a child’s arrangements include where a child will be travelling with another adult who is not a parent or legal guardian, such as a relative or family friend, as well as travelling with an organisation, such as their school or sports team. Additionally, a child travel consent form will be needed if a child under 18 will be travelling alone.

The following guide looks at the rules around child travel consent forms, from what this form is and when you will need one, as well as what details this form should include. We also examine the risks associated with accompanying or travelling with a child, where permission is required but without having first obtained some form of written permission.

When do you need permission to travel with a child?

You may need to obtain permission of anyone with parental responsibility before travelling with a child either within the UK or abroad. However, whether permission is needed will depend on whether you also have parental responsibility for the child and if you are travelling inside or outside the UK, as well as for how long you plan to be away and whether there are already any court orders in place prohibiting travel with that child.

Parental responsibility refers to the legal rights and responsibilities as a parent in the UK, where all mothers and most fathers have parental responsibility. A mother will automatically have parental responsibility from her child’s birth, while a father will usually have parental responsibility in England and Wales if he is either married to the child’s mother when the child is born or he jointly registered the birth of the child with the mother.

If you do not have parental responsibility, but would like some say over decisions around your child leaving the jurisdiction, you can apply to the courts for this. However, you would need to be connected to the child, for example, as their biological father, a step-parent or second female parent. As a father wanting parental responsibility, where the mother agrees, you can fill in a parental responsibility agreement to take to your local family court to be signed and witnessed. There is a different agreement form for step parents. Importantly, more than two people can have parental responsibility at the same time for the same child.

When do you need a child travel consent form?

If you’re travelling with a child within the UK and you have parental responsibility, you will not normally need written consent from anyone else with parental responsibility, unless there is a court order or agreement in place requiring their permission first.

As such, when it comes to UK travel, you would only ordinarily need a child travel consent form if you are travelling with a child for whom you do not have parental responsibility. A child travel consent form, or some other suitable form of written consent setting out the details of the trip, ought to provide the permission needed to travel to and from any UK destination.

If you plan to travel abroad with your child, and you have parental responsibility for them, you can take the child abroad for a period of up to 28 days without getting permission from anyone else with parental responsibility if there is a child arrangements order from the court in place that provides that the child lives with you. The only exception to the rule for those with parental responsibility travelling abroad with their child for up to 28 days is where a court order specifically prohibits overseas travel.

If you do not have a child arrangements order, or are looking to take your child out of the country for more than 28 days, you will need permission of anyone with parental responsibility for that child.

If you do not have permission from everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, this can be classed as child abduction.

A letter from any person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show that you have permission to take a child abroad, although using an online template or a prescribed child travel consent form is strongly advised, in this way ensuring that all the necessary information is included.

In circumstances where anyone with parental responsibility refuses to provide you with permission to take a child out the country where that permission is needed, you would need to apply to the court for an order allowing this. Equally, where a court order specifically prohibits you from taking a child abroad, you would need to apply to the court to ask it to reconsider this decision to lawfully travel outside the UK with that child.

When applying to the court for permission to take a child abroad, where you have not been able to obtain permission from everyone else with parental responsibility, your application must set out all the details surrounding the trip and those involved. This should include dates of departure and return, how you will be travelling and with whom, as well as the full names and contact details of everyone with parental responsibility staying in the UK.

If you are looking to take a child out of the UK for more than 28 days and outside of school holidays, you must also provide additional information about where you will be living and what education the child will be receiving while they are abroad. However, seeking legal advice for this type of application from an experienced family solicitor is strongly advised.

What should a child travel consent form include?

When it comes to the necessary detail that will need to be included when obtaining written permission for a child to travel in the UK or abroad, using a child travel consent form will help to prompt the necessary responses to all the key questions. In all cases, a permission letter or child travel consent form should include the following information:

  • the child’s full name, including any middle names
  • the child’s date and place of birth
  • if the child will be travelling with their passport and, if applicable, these details
  • if the child will be travelling with their birth certificate and, if applicable, these details
  • details of the person providing permission, their relationship to the child, such as the parent or legal guardian, and if they have sole parental responsibility
  • details of the person that the child will be travelling with, their relationship to the child and if they also have parental responsibility
  • details of anyone else with parental responsibility for the child
  • dates of the child’s departure and return
  • the mode of travel, together with any itinerary details
  • details of the travel destination(s) and accommodation, together with any booking details
  • whether the child has any allergies or special medical needs
  • details of any emergency contacts in the event of an accident or other incident.

Any written permission or child travel consent form must contain a clear declaration that permission is given and be signed by the person with parental responsibility. It is also worth checking with the country of destination for any specific entry requirements prior to travel to ensure that these are complied with. In some cases, to help persuade any border control or other authorities of the legitimacy of the consent form for the child’s travel, this should be witnessed by a practising solicitor, commissioner for oaths or notary public.

The parent or legal guardian signing the child travel consent form must provide their contact details, such as an email address and/or mobile number. It will also help, where travelling outside of the UK, that the travelling-parent or other adult accompanying the child has in their possession evidence of the child’s parentage and to confirm who holds parental responsibility for the child so that this can be shown to any border officials. For example, such documentation may include the child’s birth certificate, any parental responsibility agreement which has been sealed by the family court, an adoption certificate or order, and the parents’ marriage/civil partnership agreement. Where copies of those documents are to be attached, it may be useful to have those copies certified to be ‘true copies’ to minimise the chance of any difficulties leaving or entering a country.

Importantly, if a child’s domestic or international travel arrangements are different for the outbound and inbound journeys, two completed and signed child travel consent forms should be obtained to reflect the correct information for each leg of the trip. This could be where, for example, they are travelling solo to the selected overseas destination to visit a relative, but will be returning with that relative on their journey home to the UK.

Equally, where travel is to take place outside of the UK, it is advisable to obtain consent from all persons with parental responsibility, which could be more than two in some cases.

What if you don’t have a child travel consent form?

There are various risks associated with not having the necessary child travel consent form(s), especially where that child is one for whom you do not have parental responsibility and/or where the surnames on your respective passports differ, including:

  • being refused permission to leave the UK at any UK border, such as an airport or seaport, where you might be asked for evidence of permission to travel with the child if officials have any suspicions about the legalities of the child travelling with you
  • being refused entry at a foreign border, where again you might be asked for evidence of permission to travel with the child where suspicions are raised
  • being accused of abducting the child, where taking a child abroad without the necessary written permission can be classed as child abduction
  • being arrested for abducting or attempting to abduct a child, either in the UK or abroad.

Importantly, to ensure that you are always acting lawfully in circumstances where permission from a parent or legal guardian is needed, you must have written permission to travel with a child, either by way of a child travel consent form or otherwise. Equally, a child travelling on an organised trip or alone without an adult, will also need a child travel consent form, where they may be prohibited from crossing a border without one.

If your child has been taken abroad without your consent

If a child under 16 has been taken out of or kept out of England and Wales without the permission of a parent or someone who has rights of custody in respect of that child, these cases are categorised as international child abduction cases where an application can be made to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) to help get the child back. An application may also be possible to arrange contact with a child if they have been taken or kept overseas without permission from all those with parental responsibility.

Having received an application, this will be sent by the ICACU to the relevant organisation in the country that the child is in. However, it can take at least 6 weeks to get a decision, if not longer. There is also no guarantee that a child will be returned, where it is strongly advised to seek expert advice from an English-speaking lawyer for the country in question.

If a child you are responsible for is at risk of being taken out of the UK without your consent, you should seek immediate legal advice with a view to pursuing a court application to prohibit this. In an emergency scenario, you may want to contact the police.

Child consent form FAQs

Do I need a child travel consent form?

If you are planning to travel with a child, either within or outside of the UK, where the child in question is not a child for whom you have parental responsibility, you will usually need a child travel consent form. Equally, if you are one of two or more people who have parental responsibility for the child, you may need written permission in certain circumstances.

Do I need permission from my ex to take my child on holiday?

You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission from anyone else with parental responsibility if a child arrangements order from the court provides that the child must live with you, unless a court order prohibits this.

How to fill letter of consent for travel of a minor child?

When completing a letter of consent for travel of a minor child, you must include yours and the child’s details, together with details of the trip, who they will be travelling with and who has parental responsibility for the child.

How do I write a consent letter for my child to travel UK?

To write an effective consent letter for your child to travel either within or outside the UK, you will need to ensure that you include clear and accurate information about all parties involved and the details of the proposed trip.

Can I write my own child consent form for travel?

If you are required to obtain permission from anyone else with parental responsibility, you cannot write your own child consent form to travel outside of the UK. This form must be completed by the person from whom you need permission.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

Author

Do You Need a Child Travel Consent Form? 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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