UK: The rules you need to know about taking children on holiday abroad


A 13-year-old girl was recently booted off a flight

With the summer holidays coming to an end, for some it is the last chance to book a last-minute family holiday before the kids go back to school.

However, if a child is travelling without their mother, there can be issues.

Recently, Nottinghamshire Live reported that a 13-year-old girl with autism was booted off a Ryanair flight and left stranded in a Portuguese airport because cabin crew wouldn’t accept she was flying with her close family.

Her stunned mother said it has left her daughter “hysterical” as she was forced off the plane from Faro to East Midlands Airport, reports the Liverpool Echo.

A spokesman for Ryanair said: “Children under-16 years of age are not permitted to travel unaccompanied. In this instance, the child was booked on two separate bookings for the outbound and return flights.

A Ryanair plane takes off from Stansted Airport
Ryanair did not allow the girl to travel

“While we regret any inconvenience, as no other adult was travelling on the return booking, she could not travel on the flight.

“As a gesture of goodwill, the child and an accompanying adult were moved on to another booking on the next available flight, which departed to East Midlands later that day.”

But what does the law say with regards to children flying without relatives and friends?

According to Gov.UK, you must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad.

You automatically have parental responsibility if you’re the child’s mother, but you still need the permission of anyone else with parental responsibility before you take the child abroad.

Taking a child abroad without permission is child abduction.

Make sure you know the law before you travel

You can take a child abroad for 28 days without getting permission if a child arrangement order says the child must live with you, unless a court order says you can’t.

However, a letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you’ve got permission to take them abroad.

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 also helps if you have evidence of your relationship with the child, for example a birth or adoption certificate and/or a divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child’s.

You’ll 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.

And you must give details of the trip, for example the date of departure, when and how you’re returning, and contact details of people with parental responsibility staying in the UK.

But if you’re taking the child abroad for a longer trip you must give more information, including what education the child will get while they’re abroad.

Find a solicitor to get legal advice about permission to take a child abroad.

You may also need to contact the embassy or consular office of the country you are travelling to for information about the age limit up to which a person is considered a child.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding parental abduction, we can help.  Please feel free to contact us 24 / 7.  We are always available at contact@abpworld.com or by calling our offices – +1 (805) CHILD-11 (+18052445311)

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