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Can I take my child abroad if they have a different surname?

21 October

Can I take my child abroad if they have a different surname?

You can still take your child(ren) abroad with you if they do not share your surname, but being prepared will mean you can ensure that your holiday goes smoothly.

With October half term beginning this week, this is a key point for you to bear in mind if your child has a different surname and you are planning a getaway abroad!

You may be divorced from your child’s other parent, or have remarried taking on a new name. You could be married but have chosen not to take your spouses’ surname, whilst your children do have it. Or, it could simply be that you are an unmarried couple with children.

It is understandable that checks need to be in place at airports, international train stations and ports, to protect children from risks of kidnapping. But, it goes without saying that these checks have caused a lot of stress and upset for many parents and their children. Almost everyone has a story of something similar – I’ve even heard of missed flights!

How do I travel abroad with my child whose last name is different from mine?

It can be stressful at the best of times to travel with kids, let alone when they don’t share your surname. But, this can be easily avoided by ensuring you carry the right documents.

Whilst it does depend on your personal circumstances, officials will need to be satisfied of the relationship that you have with your child. So, you may need:

  • Proof of your change of name

You may have a Change of Name deed, or may need to take your Marriage Certificate with you.

  • Your child’s birth certificate

This is to give the officials the name of your child, their date of birth and place of birth, which should match with the details on their passports. It also says the full names of both parents when the child was born. Make sure you double check if your name has changed since your child was born and take the extra documents you will need.

  • Passports – yours and the child’s – should go without saying!

Avoiding stress when travelling with children with different surname

Depending on your child’s age, you may need to warn your children that they might be asked questions by the officials. They don’t need to be worried but they do need to answer clearly and honestly – now is not the time for joking around! When my sister was stopped at immigration, her two year old son had just been playing a game of ‘Simon Says’ and when he was asked who he was, he responded with “Simon” instead of his own name! This didn’t go down well as you can imagine!

Do I need permission to take my child abroad?

If you’re not travelling with your child’s other parent, it’s best to try and ensure that you can prove that you have the parent’s consent to taking the child abroad. Please see our blog on this subject here.

Journeying abroad with children can be tricky if they have different surnames, but with these tips you can avoid the stress. Enjoy your holiday!

If you would like more information about holiday arrangements for your children, or if you need any other assistance with family law, please contact the Family Department.