UK parents:

CARI Child Abduction Recovery International constantly gets contacted by parents seeking information about different topics. One such topic is travelling overseas. With Christmas holidays around the corner, some people will be thinking of travelling away for the holiday season, with loved ones.

However, many people when wanting to travel with children without the other parent, encounter difficulties. Recent rules and law changes in the UK has seen parents stopped at UK borders.

A frequently asked question we receive, can I take my child on holiday abroad without the other parent’s permission.

How long can I take my child out of the UK for without breaking the law?

If a parent has a residence order in place (before 22.04.14), or is the holder of residence under a Child Arrangements Order then they may take the child out of the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of anyone else who has Parental Responsibility for the child unless there is an order in place expressly prohibiting this.

If the parent intends to take the child out of the UK for longer than 28 days, then they will need the appropriate consent. If this cannot be obtained then a court order would be required.

The courts can impose restrictions or require that a passport be surrendered if a parent is concerned about the frequency of trips abroad or fears that the other parent may abduct the child.

If a parent wants to take the child abroad for a short holiday it is sensible to seek the agreement of the other parent before going, to save grief or embarrassment at the airport. Parents should be reasonable about this and provide the other parent with plenty of notice.

If there is an order which stipulates where a child lives, that parent can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission.

If there is no court order in place, you need to get the agreement of the other parent, in writing, a signed letter should suffice. The letter should detail the travel itinerary as well as contact details for the other parent. You may be asked for such a letter at a border.


What information should you bring?

Adopt a strict approach and as the travelling parent, have evidence of your relationship with the child, e.g., birth certificate and a copy of your decree absolute or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent and /or your surname is different to your child’s surname. New laws are in place to prevent Parental Child Abduction, which is great. CARI Child Abduction Recovery International believes it’s vital all countries do the same.

Please also be aware that you do require the other parent’s permission each time you take your child abroad, unless you have a Court order in place, allowing the same.

We often hear stories about permission be revoked once granted. We are afraid a parent is entitled to do the same, they should, of course, have a good reason for revoking permission, rather than just being “difficult”, which is usually the case with selfish parents wanting ‘control’ and ‘power’ in their hands, not the best interest of the children.

What can you do if the other parent refuses to give consent?

You can apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order, i.e., specifically asking the Court to decide if you can travel abroad with your child. If embarking upon this route, be sure to provide the Court with a full travel itinerary, including flight details, accommodation, a contact telephone number, who will be travelling with the child etc.

This is all basic information that the other parent is entitled to have. Moreover, remember, if the shoe were on the other foot, wouldn’t you as the non-travelling parent want this information?

If you are planning a trip and feel that the other parent is likely not to agree, it is worth applying early to the Court to ensure that the matter can be heard in good time. If time is not on your side, you may need to make an urgent application at court. Giving the other parent notice of such a hearing would be helpful with a view to progressing the matter swiftly.

In summary, unless you have a court order that allows you to travel abroad with your child, you will need the other parent’s consent (and every other person that has parental responsibility) for that child and if that fails you will need the Court’s permission. Taking a child abroad without a permission is child abduction.

Another one CARI Child Abduction Recovery International receives often, is how to travel abroad with a child whose surname is different from yours?

If you are travelling to another country with a child and are not that child’s parent, or if you and the child have different surnames, you may need to bring extra documents with you to establish your relationship.


How can I prepare for travel?
Border control staff may ask a few questions to establish your relationship. Carrying evidence of your relationship  with the child, or documents explaining the reason for travelling, isn’t compulsory (see below for exceptions) but can speed up the process.

According to the Home Office, such evidence might include a copy of a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child; divorce or marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname; or a letter from one or both of the child’s parents, with contact details, giving consent for the child to travel with you (even if, for example, you are a grandparent and have the same surname).

•       Full details of regulations that apply at the UK border are on the UK Border Agency website, and the Home Office website (Get permission to take a child abroad).

It also is wise to speak to the airline you are flying with to seek advice.
Letters of authority or consent etc. If you are travelling with children and are not their parent, it may be wise to bring a letter of consent from the child’s parents.
This is a letter from the child’s parents stating that the child has permission to travel abroad with the person accompanying them. These are useful if grandparents are taking grandchildren abroad, or for divorced parents where one is taking the child abroad alone. While they are not required, they can simplify interviews at border control.

Be aware that carrying a consent letter may not guarantee that the child will be allowed to travel abroad; every country has its own requirements for children travelling without their parent(s). Make sure to check the specific requirements of the country to which you are travelling (Full list of foreign embassies in the UK). Don’t forget to sign the letter, and get it witnessed by a solicitor or appropriate authority.

Another reason to carry such a letter is in the event that a child requires medical attention abroad and you are not the child’s parent, or have a different surname from the child. The reason for tighter border control now at UK borders is due to preventing Parental Child Abduction. It’s a major problem and UK FCO figures they release to public, as well as Reunite International are not true or accurate figures.

Freedom of information research (CARI Child Abduction Recovery International conducted this research) shows the UK FCO nor any other authority holds figures at all of the number of children being taken ‘out of’ the UK. Sadly, figures are only held by the number of reports made to Foreign UK Embassy staff overseas.

This alone is a disgrace, that no accurate figures are held. Based on our experience and number of UK victim parents contacting us for advice and assistance, we know the figures put out are much higher. That with the fact many parents now have zero confidence in The Hague Convention or authorities helping them find or bring their children home, means CARI Child Abduction Recovery International works 365 days a year with no breaks, doing our best to help left behind parents reunite with their abducted children. No one else helps.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding International Parental Child Abduction feel free to contact CARI Child Abduction Recovery International 24/7. We are always available at or by calling our CEO Adam Whittington directly +46 707385598

We don’t just talk, we actually recover children!


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