When travelling abroad with children, different countries and airline companies have their own rules, so it’s worth doing some research before you go…

Border Force Officers have a duty to safeguard the welfare of kids travelling, and may ask for evidence that you have a genuine and legal link with a child.

You must have the permission of everyone with parental responsibility before travelling. If your child has a different surname to you, then you’re likely to be asked about your relationship. In these situations, carrying a copy of their birth certificate, and any relevant marriage or divorce certificates will help to resolve any queries.


If a child is travelling with only one parent, which might be the case if you’re going to or from an overseas posting for a trip home, or for a school visit, you may be asked to prove that you have parental permission. According to gov.uk, a letter of consent, specific to that particular journey, from the person with parental responsibility is usually enough, although you may be asked for evidence of your relationship.

A letter should also be carried if your child is travelling with a guardian, or if they are travelling alone. It’s a good idea to check with your airline for any other requirements, such as a guardian remaining at the airport until the flight has taken off.

If you aren’t able to get permission from another person with parental responsibility then you’ll need to apply to a court for permission, and should seek legal advice.

Rev (Maj) Gary Birch, chaplain to 1 Royal Anglian, and Dhekelia Station in Cyprus, shared his family’s recent experience with us: “My wife was travelling back to the UK with our daughter, I had seen comments on community chat groups talking about permissions needed when a single parent travels with a child, so I prepared a dated letter with the stamp of my office, including all of our names, and stated the purpose of the visit and that they had my permission.

“My wife was asked at the airport why she was leaving Cyprus with our daughter alone, and was able to show them the letter, which they were happy with. She had travelled solo with our children before and wasn’t asked, but I would recommend having a letter, just in case.”

More information can be found on our General Overseas Postings page at aff.org.uk

If you have any experience that you would like to share with us, get in touch at overseassupport@aff.org.uk

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