Stop A Mother Or Father Taking A Child Abroad

There are many reasons why a parent or guardian would want to stop their ex-wife or husband from taking their child or children out of the country, and for many people their children being taken abroad without their consent is a huge concern and a real possibility. The reasons behind these concerns can vary widely from domestic disputes, child arrangement orders, disgruntled ex's, child abduction and even the possibility of travelling to countries with links to terrorism.

Over 150 children are abducted by one of their parents every year, and The Passport Office is receiving more and more queries on child passports this is why it is more complicated to get a child's passport than an adult's as additional checks will need to be made to safeguard any child travelling abroad. All of these things are frightening for any parent to consider, but it is important to know the rules regarding your child's passport and what to do to prevent a passport being issued as well what to do if a passport has already been issued.

Do I need permission to child my child abroad?

Yes.

You must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, without this you will be breaking the law.

Who has parental responsibility (PR)?

A mother automatically has parental responsibility for her child from birth. A father usually has parental responsibility if he's either:

• Married to the child's mother
• Listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)

How do I get permission from ex to take my child abroad?

The best way to obtain permission to take your child abroad is to ask for a letter from anyone else with parental responsibility giving you written permission to take the child abroad. We recommend including the names of all parties with parental responsibility and the full names of the children being taken abroad along with passport numbers. Please ensure that the letter is signed and dated.

You might be asked for the letter at a UK or foreign border, or if there's a dispute about taking a child abroad. The letter should include the other person's contact details and details about the trip.

It will also help if you have the following:

• Evidence of your relationship with the child, eg a birth or adoption certificate
• A divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child's

Please note:

Taking a child abroad without permission is against the law and is child abduction, failure to obtain permission could result in a prison sentence.

How long can I take my child abroad without permission?

You can take a child abroad for a maximum of 28 days without getting permission if you have a child arrangement order that says the child must live with you. However, if there is a court order in place that states you are not allowed to take the child out of the country then this must be adhered to.

If there is any confusion or you are unsure of your rights and responsibilities you can contact your local family court to clarify your current legal situation. They will be happy to help you navigate this confusing legal minefield.

I can't get permission from everyone with PR what can I do?

If you want to take your child abroad but are unable to obtain permission from everyone with parental responsibility you may still be able to take your child abroad but you will need to apply to a court for permission to take a child abroad if you haven't got permission from the other people with parental responsibility.

When applying you will need to give details of the trip, including: the date of departure, when and how you will be returning, and contact details of people with parental responsibility staying in the UK. If you are planning a longer trip abroad you must also provide information on how you plan to educate the child or children whilst you are abroad.

If you are unsure of the law and how it applies to your situation, we would recommend that you contact a solicitor to get legal advice about permission to take a child abroad.

Is my child still classed as a minor?

This is a very important question as many countries around the world have different laws and different ages for what is classed as a minor. Whether or not your child is still a minor can dramatically affect your travel plans and whether or not you will still need to adhere to the laws and court orders imposed on you.

To check if your child is still classed as a minor in the country you are travelling to you can contact their Embassy or Consulate in the UK and they will be able to advise you of the rules and regulations of that country.

Can I use the 1-day Premium service for a child's passport?

No.

Unfortunately, you are unable to use the 1-day premium service to apply or renew a child's passport. This is for security and safeguarding reasons. You will normally receive your passport within 4 hours after your appointment.

You can only use the 1-day premium service to:

• Renew an adult passport
• Change the name on your passport (with a marriage or civil partnership certificate)

Can I use the 1-week Fast-Track service for a child's passport?

Yes.

You are able to use the 1-week Fast-Track service. For this you will need to book an appointment online and ensure you have completed either an online or paper application correctly and have any and all supporting documents with your application. You will normally receive your passport 7 days after your appointment by secure courier.

You can use this service to:

• Renew an adult or child passport
• Change your name on your passport (for example with a marriage certificate or deed poll)
• Make changes to your personal details on your passport (for example, your gender)
• Replace a lost, stolen or damaged passport
• Apply for a first child passport


Who can apply for a child's passport?

You can only apply for a child's passport if you have parental responsibility for the child. You will need to give both parents' details when you complete your application. If you cannot provide the other parent's details, include a letter with the application to say why (for example, you're the only parent named on the birth certificate or you adopted the child on your own).

Who do I contact if I am worried about a child travelling abroad?

If you have any concerns regarding the safety of a child or a venerable adult travelling abroad you should first contact your local social services, you can find their details at your local council office or on the website. If you have immediate concerns over a vulnerable adult or child being taken out of the country contact your local police immediately who will be able to assist you further, if you have concerns that someone is going to apply for a passport for a vulnerable adult or child you can contact The Passport Office on 0300 222 0000 to lodge an objection, anyone with genuine concerns can do this, you do not need to have parental responsibility.

If you have PR and a passport has already been issued Her Majesty's Passport Office recommends that you do not cancel the passport while the child or vulnerable person is out of the country it can make it extremely hard to get them returned home. 

There are procedures in place to ensure peoples safety and any and all genuine concerns will be heard and appropriate action will be taken.

Please note

These procedures and services are only there if you have genuine concerns for a child or venerable adult and are not to be used for minor disagreements regarding holiday timetables or to be used as punishment.


If you are looking apply or renew your child's passport you can book appointment and apply online. You can find lots more information on our website.

Need more information?

Talk to the Passport Office team

Call Passport Advice Line

Lines open 9am-5:30pm


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