Passport surnames for kids – the airport delay for parents with different surnames

It’s amazing to think that in 2017, mums and dads are being stopped at airports because their children have a different surname to them. But, it’s still happening at great stress to parents, kids, and the queuing travellers! Over the past years, YouGov estimates that 600,000 parents have been stopped and questioned.

Sky news rounded up some bizarre experiences parents have faced, including a heated argument a mum of three with airport border staff as they refused to believe she was their mother that ended with the husband having to be called back from baggage to ‘claim’ the kids.

Although the reason for these tight rules and regulations are clearly for the safety of children, it has been causing hold ups and stress for parents for years. With 2016’s YouGov poll disclosing that 41% of women want to keep their own name when they get married. Furthermore, post-divorce, many people decide to revert to their old name. So, the fact is, there are many parents out there with different names to their kids and if your kids don’t share your surname, then you may have difficulty in returning to the UK through some terminals.

So, what’s the solution?

If you are travelling with kids alone, and you are named on the birth certificate (all mothers are named, but not all fathers are) take the kids’ births certificate with you. If you can’t find the birth certificate, you can order a new one of the government website. If one of you isn’t on the birth certificate, take a signed letter with both parents’ signatures. As well as proving your relationship to your child, you’ll also need to prove that you have permission to take the children away, so a signed letter stating that you have permission from the other parent to travel is a good option. You can use a template from one of many websites if you google ‘consent letter for travelling alone with kids’ and these are usually free. If you have a child arrangements order which states that your children live with you, then you can go abroad with the children for up to 28 days without seeking permission from the other parent, but you should always travel with a copy of the order with you.

A simple change to children’s passports where parents are named would stop a lot of this kind of confusion. If you think it makes sense to have parents named on a child’s passport then you can sign the petition to get both parents’ names included here.

Kate Daly is a co-founder of amicable. Kate is a divorce expert and helps couples and separated parents navigate divorce and separation amicably. She's passionate about changing the way the world divorces and campaigns for fairer divorce laws and access to justice.

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