Taking a Child Abroad With a Different Surname? Be Prepared

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It isn’t uncommon for people travelling with children with a different surname to be asked to prove the children’s identity and why they are travelling together at border controls.

Maybe your children have a different surname to you, or perhaps the children are travelling with grandparents or other relatives with different surnames.

If this could affect you this summer, here is what you need to know…


Why Do I Need to Prove Anything?

The controls are in place in certain countries to protect against child abduction and smuggling. The controls at most borders are getting tighter so we strongly advise that you pay close attention to what you need to do, well before you travel.


What Do I Need to Do?

1) Give yourself plenty of time, if possible

Book your holidays well in advance if you can. Not only will this give you more time to research and get together the paperwork you need, you might also get a better deal on your family holiday!

2) Ask Your Airline

The Airlines, as well as border control, will have their own policies so always check with your airline if they need any additional documentation in order for you to travel.

3) Check With the Relevant Embassy

What applies in Britain will differ to the requirements of other nations. Always check the requirements of each country that you will be travelling to or through.

What Documents Will I be Asked For?

This will depend on the individual countries you are visiting and may include one or more of the following:

A) Consent Letter

To be on the safe side we would suggest that you always get a consent letter from the child’s father stating that they are happy for the child to travel with you. Include your details, the dates and details of travel, their consent and passport details. Also get this signed, dated and witnessed.

B) Birth, marriage and divorce certificates

Generally, you will need to take the child’s birth certificate, either the original or a certified copy from a Notary Public – we can help you with that.

Also, take any marriage and divorce certificates to further prove the child’s identity and your relation to them.

C) Double check you have everyone’s passports!



If you are having trouble getting access to the documents that you require for the country you are travelling to, don’t panic. You are not alone and there are some common problems that we often see….

For example, the father of your children may have unfortunately passed away or they may not be contactable to obtain consent.

In the case of the death of the father, the death certificate in most cases should be sufficient along with the child’s’ birth certificate. If however, they cannot be contacted and you both have custody then you may need to apply to the court for consent.

Other more complicated problems can arise, which depending on their nature could cause some emotional distress, if you are concerned about your own travel plans please get in touch with our resident family expert Nicola Barron, who will be pleased to advise you. You can contact Nicola Barrow on 01282 433 241.

Should you require a Notary Public signature on any documents after checking with the relevant embassy, again please contact us.

Remember, these laws are in place to protect you and your children and if you follow the advice here the process should be very straightforward. It is always advisable to research your own position well before you travel to avoid any last minute complications.

Happy holidays!