Child With a Different Surname – Can I Take Them Abroad?

When it comes to travelling abroad with a child, parents often have questions about the legal implications, especially if the child has a different surname. In England and Wales, parental rights and responsibilities are primarily governed by the Children Act 1989, which outlines the rules regarding parental responsibility, including decisions related to a child’s upbringing.

This article will explore the legal considerations surrounding taking a child with a different surname abroad and provide guidance on navigating this situation.

Understanding Parental Responsibility

Parental Responsibility is defined as encompassing all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority that a parent has in relation to their child and their property. This includes making important decisions about the child’s education, health, religion, and general upbringing.

Permission Requirement for Taking a Child Abroad

The law is clear regarding international travel with a child. If a parent intends to take their child out of the UK, they should obtain permission from all individuals who share parental responsibility for the child or seek the court’s permission. It is important to note that this requirement applies regardless of whether the child shares the same surname as the travelling parent or not.

Consequences of Traveling without Permission

Taking a child abroad without the necessary permission can be considered child abduction, which is a criminal offence. To avoid legal complications and protect the child’s best interests, it is crucial for parents to adhere to legal requirements when planning international travel.

Exceptions to the Permission Requirement

While permission is generally required to take a child abroad, there are exceptions to this rule. A parent with a Child Arrangement Order specifying that the child lives with them can take the child abroad for a period of up to 28 days without seeking permission. It is important to consult the specific terms of the Child Arrangement Order and ensure compliance with any restrictions or conditions.

Handling Different Surnames

In situations where a child has a different surname from the travelling parent, it is advisable to carry evidence of the parent-child relationship and provide clarification for the difference in surnames. This can help mitigate potential difficulties at border controls or when questioned about the child’s identity. Supporting documentation may include the child’s birth certificate, divorce or marriage certificates, or a letter of consent from the other parent clearly stating their agreement to the child’s travel.

What to Remember When Travelling with a Different Surname

When planning to travel abroad with a child who has a different surname, it is essential to understand and comply with the legal requirements surrounding parental responsibility.

•            Seeking permission from all individuals with parental responsibility.

•            Follow any court orders in place in relation to the child.

•            Carrying relevant supporting documents to help facilitate smooth travel experiences.

By following the legal guidelines, parents can ensure the best interests of their children are upheld while enjoying their travels abroad.

If you have any questions regarding anything in this article, or would like to discuss travelling abroad with your child, contact us on 01603 677077 or email