Do You Need Permission to Take Your Child Abroad?

Our Top 3 Tips on How to Make Sure Your Holiday Plans are Smooth-Sailing.

Holidays are a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children, and many separated or divorced parents want to take their child abroad during the school holidays. Follow these steps to make sure you are not breaking the law when you take your child out of the country.

1. Get written consent
When you take a child abroad, the general rule is that you must have written permission from everyone who has parental responsibility for that child. This is most often a requirement of border control.

If the child has a different surname to you, it is good practice to take a copy of their birth certificate to minimise any potential problems when travelling.

Try to obtain written consent before you book the holiday. If your ex-partner refuses, you could end up spending money on a holiday that you then can’t take your child(ren) on.

2. Give reasonable notice of your holiday plans
If you have a Child Arrangements Order stating the child is to live with you, you are entitled to take them out of the jurisdiction of England & Wales for up to 28 days without written consent from the other parent. However, you must give the other parent reasonable notice of your holiday plans.

To minimise conflict, we would advise that you speak to your ex-partner about your trip in advance. It’s advisable to provide everyone who has parental responsibility with details of flights, hotel(s), the duration of the holiday, and if necessary create arrangements for the child to have a telephone call with the other party during the trip.

3. Speak to a solicitor if your ex-partner refuses
You might believe it is in the child’s best interests to go on the holiday – for example, you think the holiday would be a good experience for the child, or the trip will be an opportunity to visit extended family.

If your ex-partner refuses to give consent but you can demonstrate that the holiday is in the child’s best interests, you will need to make an application to Court for a Specific Issue Order. We can help with this.

What to do if you have concerns about your ex-partner taking your child abroad

If you have concerns about your ex-partner taking your child abroad, you can refuse permission if:

  • You have parental responsibility and they do not, or
  • You both have parental responsibility, but your ex-partner does not have a Child Arrangements Order stating that the child(ren) lives with them

If you are concerned and they do have a ‘Live with Order’, you will need to apply to Court for a Prohibitive Steps Order to prevent your ex-partner from taking the child on holiday. Talk to us about Prohibitive Steps Orders.

If you refuse permission, your ex-partner may make an application to Court to obtain an Order to take the child on holiday. It is important that you have a trusted family solicitor to attend the hearing with you to put your concerns across and represent you. It will be at the Court’s discretion as to whether an Order is made.

If you refuse permission, no Court Order is made, but the other parent takes the child abroad anyway, this is child abduction. If you believe your child has been abducted, contact us immediately so that we can advise you on your next steps.

Book your diagnostic meeting

If you are unhappy about the current arrangements for your child, book a diagnostic meeting with our team today. At the meeting you will discuss:

  • Your current position and the issues you are facing
  • The best route for you
  • How we can help you get the arrangements best for everyone

Contact us today by telephone on 01273 604123 or email


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Speak to one of our solicitors today. We would love to hear from you and discuss any legal issues you may have and how we can assist you.

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