parents travelling with different surnames to children
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Flying Carefree: The Importance of the Family Surname when Travelling Abroad with your Children

In recent months I’ve been reading more and more articles on travelling abroad with your children if you don’t share the same surname, and what implications it may have on your travel. According to various news reports I’ve read on the internet, an estimated 600,000 families have been stopped, questioned and even in some cases refused entry because they didn’t carry the correct paperwork proving they had parental responsibility.

As well as reading articles, I’ve even spoken to friends and work colleagues who have shared their [horror] stories about how mortified they were having to explain to border control their children were indeed theirs when ushered to a separate checking desk as their partner, whilst he was left wrestling the cases at another to speed the queue up.

This has massively sparked my interest because, for those who don’t know me personally, my partner and I are not married. Why aren’t we married? Well moving swiftly past the fact I’ve not been asked yet, I suppose its just something we haven’t really got round to doing. We’ve been in a [sometimes] loving relationship for the last 18 years, and both feel we have everything in our relationship every other married couple has – except the certificate!

But hey let’s face it, it’s our choice to remain unmarried even though we now have children, so with that choice comes consequences and in this case it’s taking extra caution when travelling abroad with the boys. I must admit though a part of me cries inside that I now need to prove my boys are mine because of an unwitting choice we’ve made, but it is what it is for now.

Anyhow… Moving on from my tales of woe –  if you’re planning your holidays abroad, and your family make up is similar to mine, or you are a guardian or adoptive parent preparing to travel abroad with your children whom you don’t share the same surname with, here are a few facts you need to be mindful of before you start your journey so your holidays are not soured by an interrogation at border control.


The reason why regulations have tightened up when travelling abroad with children is to try and protect from child abduction – something as a parent I’m all for. So if you’re travelling with your children and your surname is different, take an official copy or original of your child’s birth certificate which demonstrates your relationship to the child.

If your child/or children are adopted take a copy of their adoption certificate. Other documentation could be a divorce or marriage certificate if there is a change in your surname.

If you are a grandparent and are planning to travel abroad with your grandchildren and the parent(s) are not with you, take a letter of consent or authority from one or both parents if possible with their full contact details on and a brief summary on why you are travelling. Full details on these regulations can be found here.

It’s important to mention that each country has its own rules when travelling with children so its always worth checking it out before you plan your travels. And remember its YOUR responsibility to find out all there is to know when travelling – don’t rely on your travel agent or airline to inform you!


If you are the mother of the child you automatically have parental responsibility. However, if I wished to take my boys away for a holiday without Dad (chance would be a fine thing) I would need parental permission from Dad too. Again this can be through a letter of consent stating my reason for travelling and his full contact details.

If for some reason you are unable to get hold of a letter of consent from those who have parental responsibility of the child and/or children you are travelling with, you must then apply through the court. Similar to the letter of consent you must disclose details of your travel for instance how you plan to travel and when you will return, why you are travelling, and of course the full details of all those who do have parental responsibility. If this is something you need to consider, always seek legal advice.


It’s all beginning to sound a little official and somewhat scary, especially when all you are wanting to do is plan a small family holiday abroad. But remember in today’s society it’s not unusual for parents to have a different surname as their child/children so don’t panic, you are not alone!

Treat it as you would checking you have your passports and tickets – which in my house gets checked a zillion times before we leave. Be prepared that extra checks may occur when you travel and have the right information with you so if an extra check was to occur, it can be moved on swiftly with no interruption to your holiday.

After all, the balance of making all those checks is so you don’t get caught up in a child abduction case – not a great way to kick start anyone’s holiday, right?!

And hey… if you don’t fancy any of the extra prep, you could always do a Shirley Valentine, and leave the kids with Dad at home! After the week of sickness and diarrhea in my house, this option is sounding all the more attractive!

Happy Holidays!!

I’m guessing this affects so many families nowadays… including me! I still haven’t got a ring on it (it’s not just the certificate your missing Pips haha) despite that being the plan when we adopted the boys, so I’m left with a different surname too. 

It’s a really tough subject because on one hand, you are obviously pleased to see a strong system to prevent child abduction/trafficking but on the other hand its a system based on, in my opinion, quite old fashioned principles which you only get around by taking your entire paperwork draw on holiday or by having to get married and change your name. Surely in this day and age, there should be some sort of electronic way of recording this sort of information for customs- even its a quick questionnaire online prior to traveling abroad? 

Soap Box Please?!!

Initially, I was a little precious about being asked uncomfortable questions particularly when I started writing this blog. But by the end I actually thought… you know what, it’s not about me, I own my choices and have nothing to feel uncomfortable about. And actually, I want people on the frontline asking tough questions if it means it protects our children from abduction and trafficking. Putting an electronic system in place that could potentially be hacked or manipulated by criminality might not be the answer, otherwise, it would be in place, surely? And bringing one/two – or however many children you have that reflects the number of papers with you on your journey does not warrant a huge inconvenience if this proves to be a useful deterrent for child abduction. 🤷

You’ve changed!🤣

We’d be really interested in hearing what you think on this matter…. its an interesting debate, which I’m sure many of you will have an opinion on, so please let us know.  😊



At the Parenting Phils we often get gifted some free products, allow sponsored & guest posts or stuff to giveaway to you guys in exchange for an honest review. Some of our post may also contain affiliate links. Please be assured that all opinions are our own and guest posts in line with what WE feel is right for our readers! 

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