Do you have the required consent to travel abroad with your children?
Travelling abroad with you child
If your children are lucky enough to be traveling abroad over the Easter holidays but both parents are unable to travel with them, the non-travelling parent may be required to provide a written travel consent to allow their children to travel overseas without them.
When is a travel consent typically required?
This is often a requirement of the country the children will be travelling to, before its immigration officials will permit them to enter or leave, and the process may be required to be conducted by a notary public.
Recently, our notarial team has been asked to prepare and notarise travel consents in the following circumstances:
- Where only one parent is travelling with their child, particularly where the child’s surname is different to the travelling parent’s surname; and
- Where neither parent is travelling with the child, who is instead being accompanied by friends or other family members on a trip overseas.
Why does a consent to travel need to be signed before a notary public?
This is due to the notary’s unique status as an internationally recognised public officer. Their authority is accepted throughout the world as a reliable and independent third party who is able to attest to the fact the absent parent or parents have validly consented to their child crossing international borders without them.
Given the, sadly, many stories of children being abducted and taken away from parents without their knowledge and consent, the written travel consent authorisation performs a key function in seeking to avoid children travelling outside of the UK without the consent of the absent parent(s).
Immigration authorities can become concerned if they believe a child may be being taken somewhere without one or both parents’ knowledge and consent. They may therefore detain the travelling party at the airport pending clarification which can obviously be hugely frustrating and stressful for all concerned.
We have on occasion been contacted to arrange an expedited travel consent from an absent parent, who we then have to see urgently and prepare the required documentation before sending it overseas. However, this process can take time, particularly if, as required by some countries, the document needs to be consularised by the UK Embassy of the relevant country. We therefore recommend parents check with the relevant Embassy before travelling to see if a travel consent may be required.
Which countries require written consent?
Countries in which it is a requirement, include South Africa, Portugal, Italy, Brazil Thailand, Australia and Russia. However, with increasing concerns about issues such as child abduction, it is likely that the countries expecting to see this type of documentation will expand moving forward. We know that it can often be difficult to get a definitive answer to this question from an Embassy, but we have experience of parents being in tears when a travel consent has not been prepared (because neither parent was aware one was needed) and missing flights to family weddings and functions or being prevented from returning to the UK, as a result. So, we therefore recommend, if there is any doubt, obtaining a travel consent to avoid any undue stress and ambiguity.
Preparing a consent to travel
Ideally, the notary public will need to meet with both parents, but must see the non-travelling parent, as a minimum. They will also need to see the following original documents:
- Passports of the parents
- Passports of the children
- Birth certificates of the children
- Passports of any other adult travelling with the children (if applicable)
Once the notary has met the parents, they can prepare the required travel consent documentation which the absent parent(s) will need to sign. They will then notarise the document and (if required) send it off for any necessary consularisation. It is important to allow sufficient time to complete this process which can take one week or more if consularisation is required. If this is not required, the work should be able to be completed within 24 hours, subject to the notary’s availability.
Free consultation service for travel consents
We offer our clients and contacts a free initial telephone consultation with our notarial team to discuss their requirements and how we may be able to help. If you would like to take advantage of this free service, please contact our notary public, Sukhpal Matharoo (see details below).
We have offices in London and Reading where we can meet clients. In additional, we can offer notarial services in Marlow and Oxford and in Basingstoke and Henley-on-Thames should these locations be more convenient for you.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.