What do you need to know about travelling abroad with a child who has a different surname to you?

It’s not unusual for a parent to not share the same surname as their child – this applies to almost 30 per cent of parents with children under 18. However, the issues such families encounter when travelling abroad together can derail a much-needed holiday .

Being stopped, grilled – and even turned away at border control is an ordeal an estimated 600,000 parents have had to deal with.

There are several reasons as to why you may not share your child’s surname:

People choose not to marry, or women keep their maiden names, or couples go their separate ways and remarry.

It seems unfair to be penalised. Parents affected have often been asked to “prove” they are their child’s parent – which can be difficult to do, officially, on the spot.

So what steps can you take to ensure a smooth journey?

To avoid any issues when interrogated by border control, according to the parenting site, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Speak to the airline you are flying with, and the embassy of the country you are travelling to, and seek advice.
  2. If you are travelling separately from the person who you share parental responsibility, a letter from this person is usually sufficient evidence for officials at border control.
  3. The letter should state the other person’s contact details and give reasons for why the trip is being made. This letter should be signed.
  4. You should also consider asking a solicitor to notarise the letter (sign it to prove that it’s authentic). Solicitors will do this for a small charge.
  5. If other family members are taking children abroad, you should also include such a letter, giving contact details and reasons for the trip.
  6. To be extra sure, you could show evidence of your relationship with the child – for example, a birth or adoption certificate.
  7. If you’re married, but your passport gives your maiden name and your children have a different surname, your marriage certificate and passport will provide evidence of who you are.

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