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Taking A Child Abroad – What You Need To Know


I am often asked whether or not one person can take a child out of the country, or whether some form of consent to the child travelling, something people often call ‘child travel consent’, is needed.

The answer depends not only on the relationship between those people with Parental Responsibility (PR) but also on whether a formal court order, known as a Child Arrangements Order, is in place.

If a Child Arrangements Order has been made which specifies that a child is to live with one person, s/he may take that child out of the country for a maximum of 28 days without the consent of anyone else.

If there is not a Child Arrangements Order in place, all people with PR must consent to the child being taken out of the country regardless of the duration of the proposed trip.

Consequences of failure to comply

Those taking a child abroad may be questioned by an airline or immigration officer in the airport about their intentions.  The officer may ask for documentary evidence to be produced or request that a parent with the same surname as the child is called to confirm that the child has permission to make the trip. It would therefore be sensible to travel with the Child Arrangements Order (if there is one) so that it can be produced if necessary.  If the airline/immigration officer is not satisfied that the child is able to travel, the parent could be refused permission to fly/enter the intended destination.

More seriously, failure to comply with the above rules constitutes child abduction, a criminal offence which is potentially punishable by imprisonment. Whilst some people may find it hard to believe that a person with PR could report a fellow PR holder for child abduction, in some scenarios, particularly where parents have separated in acrimonious circumstances, this is a real risk which can and should be avoided.

Action plan of how to avoid these risks

If you have a Child Arrangements Order in your favour, take it with you when you travel with your child.

If there is not a Child Arrangements Order in your favour:

If you are planning on taking a child abroad and the other PR holder is unreasonably withholding consent or if you are concerned that your child may be taken abroad without your consent, please feel free to contact me to discuss this further.


Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.