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Parental Responsibility – have you got consent for travelling as a single parent with children?

If you are separated or divorced from your ex-partner, certain difficulties can arise when travelling abroad with a child, especially when there is only one parent travelling.

You need to identify which category you come under for the purposes of travel and to determine exactly what rights are afforded to you as a parent. It can be costly, let alone devastating to both you and your child if you are denied access when travelling because you don’t have the appropriate consent from the non-travelling parent.

What is Parental Responsibility (PR)?

Any parent who wishes to take their child away on holiday must have PR. PR can be defined as having the right to be included in the fundamental decisions of your child’s life; it is not to be confused with the day to day running of their lives. PR applies to decisions regarding your child’s schooling, where the child is to reside, any medical decisions and even the child’s religion. A mother automatically has PR for her children and a father who is married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, again, has automatic PR. However, up until 2nd December 2016, where a child was born to un-married parents, the un-married father had to apply for PR through an agreement or order of the Court; the right was not automatic. The law has now changed and means that un-married fathers who are registered on their child’s birth certificate automatically have PR for a child born after 2nd December 2016.

Scenario 1: Where both parents agree and have PR

If you are separated or divorced from your ex-partner but both agree that one parent can take the child away for a holiday, the safest option to prevent being denied access across borders or on planes is to travel with a notarised written consent from the non-travelling parent, as well a copy of the child’s full birth certificate.

Scenario 2: If a residence order is in place

If there is a residence order in favour of one parent and the non-resident parent has PR, the person with the residence order is entitled to take the child off island without the need to obtain the consent of the non-resident parent for a period not exceeding one month. Any time beyond that period will require notarised written consent from the non-resident parent or an order from the court.

Scenario 3: Disagreement between the parents

If both parents have PR but one of them objects to the other parent taking the child off island (and there is no residence order in place) the parent wanting to take the child away will need to seek permission from the court. The court will require certain details of your trip, namely; dates and times of departure and return, the address where you will be staying during the trip and contact details for the travelling parent.

Scenario 4: What happens if you do not have PR?

If you do not have PR but the other parent agrees to the travel plans, again written notarised consent will be sufficient to travel. You should, however, get the other party’s agreement for you to receive PR before you leave. This is advisable in case anything were to happen whilst you are away that would require you to make decisions about what happens to your child (e.g. the need for medical treatment). However, if the other parent does not agree to this, you can issue proceedings asking the court’s permission to take the child off island and for an order for PR.

Our advice: get it certified

A word of warning: some parents may request that their Advocate witnesses the written consent of the non-travelling parent, rather than having the consent notarised. This may not be sufficient for all airlines and border controls, as the profession of an Advocate may not be recognised by the destination to which you are travelling. However, a Notary Public is an officer of the law who is able to certify certain documents, which is more widely recognised across many jurisdictions. If you are in any doubt about the requirements to travel to certain countries, it is always best to check with the immigration authority or British Embassy of your destination country.


In order to prevent disappointment or hassle when travelling with your child, remember to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who has PR in respect of your child in order to provide written consent?
  2. Who do you need to request permission from in order to travel?
  3. Who and what details do you need to provide to the non-travelling parent/court?
  4. Who can notarise the non-travelling parent’s written consent in order for you to travel?
  5. Do you have a full copy of your child’s birth certificate?

Details of Viberts’ Notary Public services:

Managing Partner, Zoe Blomfield and Partner, Charles Thacker are both practicing Notaries at Viberts.

There are two ways in which you can request your required document to be notarised and the costs will vary depending on the option you choose:

  1. 1. You may draft the document yourself, however, please ensure that you send a copy of the draft document to one of our administration team ahead of your appointment for proofreading – £40 + GST; or
  2. 2. You can pay extra to have one of our administration team draft the document for you – basic fee of £40 + GST plus additional charge dependent on the type of content you wish to be included in the document.

Once you have completed the above, you will then need to arrange for both parents to attend the appointment with the Notary Public. Both parents will need to bring their ID, a copy of the child(ren)’s birth certificate; and/or a copy of the child(ren)’s ID.

To arrange an appointment with Zoe or Charles, please call 01534 632205 or email: notary-public@viberts.com

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