Travelling anywhere with children can be stressful. However, when you and your child have different surnames the potential issues you face when going on holiday are greater. Difficulties can arise at passport control when travelling abroad. Ensuring you have undertaken the necessary research and hold the right documentation prior to travel will reduce the likelihood of any problems at the border.

Travelling abroad with different surnames

Specific documents may be requested from you at the airport to ensure you are the parent of the child you are travelling with. These techniques are used by border patrol to protect against human trafficking and child abduction. Border control need to be satisfied that there is a parental relationship between you and your child. The documents you may be required to provide are:

- The child's birth certificate. This document provides the child's name, date and place of birth. It will also provide the names of their parents. If your name has changed since the birth of your child, you may be required to produce further documentation.

- Proof of your change of name. This could either be your Marriage Certificate or Change of Name Deed. An expired passport is helpful since it contains a photograph of you and allows border patrol to marry up the details contained in the child's birth certificate, your marriage certificate and passports.

    It may also be helpful to advise your child that you hold a different surname to them and that because of this they may be asked questions by immigration officials. You should advise the child that they should not worry about this and that they should answer clearly and honestly.

    Consent to take your child abroad

    If you are not travelling with the child's other parent, you must always ensure that you have their consent to take your child abroad and that you can prove that consent, if required. If there is a Minute of Agreement in place outlining the conditions upon which you may take your child abroad the terms should be adhered to. If consent to the holiday is being withheld unreasonably or has been withdrawn, you can apply to the court for an order to allow you to take your child on holiday without the consent of the other parent.Legal advice would be required in respect of this. A court will decide the dispute on the basis of what is in the child's best interests, which oftentimes is a holiday with their parent.

    Travelling abroad with children: Consent form

    Best practise is to ask the other parent to sign a consent form prior to travel, setting out their consent to the trip. The document should provide details of flight times, dates, destination and addresses. It is also wise to attach a copy of the other parent's passport to the consent form.

    Separated parents should do their best to work together to create and alert each other to proposed travel arrangements for the school holidays. The success of such arrangements often comes down to good communication which, ultimately, benefits your child.