Permission for Take-Off… The Legal Position on Travelling Abroad with Children

Posted: 10 July 2023

For many families, going on a summer holiday is anticipated with excitement all year long. When parents are separated, however, travelling with children can end up being a headache. You may be wondering if your children can go on holiday with you, or you may have already experienced a situation where you’ve already made a trip and been stopped at the border. Here’s what you need to know:

Traveling within the UK

Parents can travel with their children within England and Wales, without seeking the consent of anyone else. If you are the resident parent, you will still need to follow any court ordered contact arrangements with the non-resident parent, unless they agree to the holiday, or the court allows you to vary the arrangements. If you are the non-resident parent, you will need to ensure that the holiday is within your allotted contact time. If it is outside your contact time, you will need to seek permission of the resident parent. If they do not agree, you can make an application to court.

Travel abroad with children

Traveling abroad
When traveling abroad, the position is more complicated.

If you are the resident parent, and you have a Child Arrangements Order that specifies that the child lives with you, you may take your child abroad for up to 28 days without anyone’s consent. For trips of over 28 days, you will require the permission of anyone with parental responsibility, usually the other parent, or the permission of the court.

If there is no Court Order in place, you must obtain permission from everyone with parental responsibility, or the court, before taking the child abroad for any amount of time. This means that even the resident parent must obtain permission before removing the child from England and Wales. This applies regardless of the length of the trip, or the purpose of the trip.

If the other person with parental responsibility, has unreasonably refused permission for you to take your child on holiday, and you need help with making an application to court, please feel free to contact one of our experienced family solicitors.

Documents needed

When travelling abroad, you should always take a copy of your child’s birth certificate. This is particularly important if your child has a different surname to you. If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place, you should also take a copy of this order with you.

It is also advisable to obtain the other parent’s written consent to a holiday abroad, and for the consenting parent to be provided with a copy of the flight and accommodation details. You should take this letter with you when travelling to prove that you have their permission.

If you don’t get permission

If you attempt to travel abroad with your child, you may be stopped when attempting to enter, or leave, your destination country. Without the correct documents to hand, this can cause delays and wasted costs. Authorities can stop you from catching your flight while they ascertain whether you have the correct permission to travel with your child.

More importantly, you could face criminal charges for child abduction.
If you are concerned that your chid is at risk of abduction

Maybe you are concerned that someone may try to take your child abroad without permission. Or maybe you are concerned that someone is using the guise of a holiday as an attempt to permanently remove your child from the jurisdiction. If this is the case, you should contact a solicitor immediately. If you believe that your child will be removed from the country within 48 hours, you should also contact the police as a matter of urgency.

If you are interested in a confidential chat with one of our family law solicitors regarding how they can support you with your child arrangements, or you would like further information on the services we offer, please call 01245 493959 or email 

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