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Pre-departure COVID19 travel tests are no longer needed but be careful booking that holiday without permission…

After the last couple of years many of us are thinking about a foreign holiday and long for some sun and much needed time away with our children.

And with the Government announcing recently that pre-departure travel testing is no longer needed, this becomes significantly more affordable and practical. But whilst this is good news for travellers, it is important for separated parents to remember the requirement for consent to take children on that much needed holiday abroad.

For those who are separated, it is better to be safe than sorry, and by following this simple guide you can stay on the right side of the law this summer.

Why do you need permission to take a child abroad?

Simply put, the law is designed to improve child safety and to prevent abduction, even if it is an inconvenience to the countless parents who are taking their children on a holiday abroad.

The law gives border control increased powers to protect children who may not be travelling with the consent of both parents.

Failure to secure permission is technically child abduction, so it is worth doing what is needed to stay on the right side of the law.

What is the official advice?

The Government’s official advice warns that you might be asked at the UK or foreign border for a letter to confirm permission is given by anyone else with Parental Responsibility. The letter should include the other person’s contact details and details about the trip.

It’s a precaution that is worth taking, even if you’ve travelled in the past without any issues. Any parent who has travelled through airport security checks with young children will tell you how stressful it can be: the last thing you want to happen is to complicate matters further by not having the correct paperwork.

In most cases, the child’s mother will have automatic parental responsibility, but they will still need permission of anybody else with parental responsibility before taking the child abroad.

What do I need?

If you have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the children live with you then you will not need to request the consent of the other parent if you are taking the children abroad for a period of up to 28 days. Take the Order with you just in case. It is of course better to communicate and agree with the other parent where possible.

A letter of permission from the other parent or, a Court Order granting permission to remove the child from the jurisdiction for the purposes of a holiday.

If the travelling parent has a different surname to the child, then it may help to also take with you the child’s birth certificate, the final decree of Divorce (known as a Decree Absolute) or your marriage certificate.

How do I get court permission to take a child abroad?

If the other parent is refusing to give consent, it might become an issue that requires the assistance and adjudication from the Family Court. In this case, we would recommend talking to one of our Family Law specialists who will be able to help ensure that everything is in order and ensure that correct procedures are followed. If necessary they can support you in your application for a Specific Issue Order and obtain leave from the Family Court to enable your children to go on holiday.

The court will want to know the details of the trip, such as the date of departure, when and how you’re returning, and contact details of those people with parental responsibility who are staying in the UK.

Being prepared before you travel is the best way to ensure a smooth start to your holiday this summer!

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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