Do I need consent to take my child on holiday?

Blog | Family
Published: 4th July 2022
Area: For the individual

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With the school summer holidays fast approaching, this is a question which tends to crop up a lot for family solicitors.

What’s the law?

You must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility (PR) for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad.

Who has PR?

You automatically have parental responsibility if you’re the child’s mother, but you still need the permission of anyone else with parental responsibility before you take the child abroad.

A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s either:

  • married to the child’s mother

  • listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)

Exceptions

You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission if a child arrangement order (Court Order) says the child must live with you unless a court order says you can’t.

What evidence do I need to show the other parent consents?

A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you’ve got permission to take them abroad.

You might be asked for the letter at a UK or foreign border, or if there’s a dispute about taking a child abroad. The letter should include the other person’s contact details and details about the trip.

It also helps if you’ve:

  • evidence of your relationship with the child, e.g. a birth or adoption certificate

  • a divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child’s.  Check out our blog on the issue of differing family names - What’s in a name.

What happens if the other person with PR does not provide their consent?

You’ll need to apply to a court for permission to take a child abroad if you haven’t got permission from the other people with parental responsibility.

You must give details of the trip, e.g. the date of departure, when and how you’re returning, and contact details of people with parental responsibility staying in the UK.

You must give more information if you’re taking the child abroad for a longer trip, e.g. what education the child will get while they’re abroad.

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