Taking a Child on Holiday Abroad When They Have a Different Surname

Last month, a tweet issued by the Home Office urged parents travelling with children who have different surnames to their own to bring appropriate documentation to the airport. Without it, they could find their journey through Passport Control a difficult one. If you’re heading abroad on holiday soon and have a son or daughter who has a different surname to you, here’s what you need to know.

Why You Need Documents for Going Abroad When Child Has a Different Surname

Remembering to bring extra stuff to the airport with you can be annoying. But, it’s important to understand the reasons why these measures have been put in place. It’s common for mothers or stepparents in particular to travel with little ones and older children who don’t share their surname. Passport Control has a duty to check that you are related to any child you are travelling with. In addition, they’ll want to verify that you have their parent’s permission to travel with them. The aim is to prevent child abduction and other serious crimes such as child trafficking.

The Home Office explained in a Tweet: “We have a duty to safeguard children and to prevent people trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other crimes.

“That is why Border Force officers sometimes need to ask additional questions.”

Documents You need to Travel Abroad When Child Has Different Surname

If you’re taking your son or daughter on holiday abroad with you and they have a different surname to your own, you’ll need to carry documentation that clarifies your relationship with them. This could be:

  • A birth or adoption certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • If you’ve reverted back to your pre-marriage name after divorce, you should bring a divorce certificate plus birth certificate

If you’re not the child’s parent, you’ll need to take a letter of authority from their parent or guardian with you.for example, if you’re taking a niece or nephew or a friend of your little one away with you. For example, if you’re taking a niece or nephew or one of your children’s friends away with you. The letter of consent should clearly state that you have authority to travel across borders with the child. It should also give contact details of the parent/guardian so they can be contacted if required. You’ll find further details to help you get through Passport Control smoothly on the Guide to faster travel through the UK border page of the Gov.uk website.

What You Need If You Want to Take Your Baby Abroad but You Are Separated from the Child’s Other Parent

If you plan to take your little ones on holiday without your ex – or vice versa – you’ll have a few other things to consider beyond the whole surname thing. If the child must live with you as stated in a Child Arrangement Order, you can take the child away for up to 28 days without permission, providing you have the order and it doesn’t state otherswise. Not the primary caregiver? Take proof that the other parent – or others with parental responsibility – has given their approval for you to take the child abroad. For a more detailed explanation including what you’ll need for taking little ones on longer trips, visit Get permission to take a child abroad on the Gov.uk website.

If you have a holiday on the horizon, why not take a peek at our baby holiday packing checklist?