For separated parents wanting to travel with their children this Christmas, there is more to think about than which flight to book and what to pack. Assuming transport is available, children can travel internationally subject to the following conditions:-

  1. Both parents agree on this travel;
  2. All C-19 precautions are duly taken;
  3. The children’s quarantine and C-19 testing will be valid during their time with the travelling parent; and
  4. The parents duly consider a balance between the advantages of seeing the other parent/extended family and the C-19 risks to the children of flying.

Remember to check the risk factors in your local area and the places you are going. Consider healthcare provision in the destination country should anyone become sick. There may be some form of lockdown in terms of transport and food supplies. If travelling to a hotel it would be wise to research the safety precautions in place. Under these conditions, plans for travel must be proposed with adequate notice and agreed by both parents in principle.

The relevant precautions of having a negative C-19 test before and after flying; wherever possible wearing protective gear for the entire journey (FFP3NR face mask plus face visor and gloves with antibacterial hand wash); and following quarantine procedures including remaining in a household bubble and following local lockdown rules.

Of course, there is a checklist of things to consider regardless of the impact of Covid-19 and these are as follows:-

  1. Do you have the consent of all persons with parental responsibility?

You will need this, unless you have a court order giving you permission (see below).

Parental responsibility means having all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property.

  1. Do you have a court order giving you permission to travel?

If you do not have the consent of all persons with parental responsibility then you will need to apply for a court order giving you permission to travel, if you do not already have an order in place.

  1. Is the consent/court order conditional?

It is common for consent or permission to be given on certain conditions.

These can include:

  • Providing the other parent with full details of the planned holiday a certain number of days/weeks/months in advance e.g. dates of travel, flight or other travel arrangements, accommodation and contact details, who else will be travelling with you, and the reason for the trip.
  • Only allowing travel to certain countries e.g. countries which are a party to the Hague Convention, where it is easier to secure the return of a child unlawfully removed/retained, or for a certain number of days.
  • Specifying the arrangements for handing over/returning the child’s passport.
  • Indirect contact (via Skype, or FaceTime) with the other parent whilst away, for example on Christmas Day.
  • In some cases, providing the other parent with some form of security in the event that you do not return as promised e.g. payment of money into court, or handing over certain documents (e.g. your birth certificate), that will only be returned once you are back in England.

You should consider these things when seeking consent or permission, and ensure you have as much information available as early as possible regarding your proposed trip.

  1. What are the legal requirements of the country you are travelling to?

Each country has different requirements for allowing a child to travel abroad without both parents.

For example, if you wish to travel to South Africa or Canada then you will need a signed parental consent affidavit (South Africa) or letter of authorisation (Canada) from the other parent and a court order granting the parent wishing to travel full parental rights and responsibilities and permitting them to take the child on holiday without the other parent.

  1. Last but not least, don’t forget your passports (and any other necessary documents).

Make sure that you have your passport and your child’s passport before you travel. This might mean arranging a time to collect your child’s passport from the other parent in advance, if it is not already in your possession.

It is also advisable to travel with a copy of the child’s birth certificate, particularly if your child has a different surname to you, as well as any documentation evidencing any change in your name e.g. your birth certificate, marriage certificate, decree absolute or change of name deed.