It won’t be long before the summer holidays are upon us and we think of flying off to the sun for a well-earned break. Maybe you’ve booked something already? Problems can sometimes arise if a child goes on holiday without both parents, or travels with its grandparents, family friends and so on.
For obvious reasons the authorities all over the world are incredibly careful now when it comes to issues of child abduction (and that might be by one of the natural parents or a third party) and will want to check that the “responsible adult(s)” arriving in their country with apparent custody, have been properly authorised. Simply holding the child’s passport often isn’t sufficient and there have been occasions when an immigration officer at a foreign airport has decided to put the whole family back on the plane they came on. Even if they didn’t, no-one wants to start off their holiday at a foreign immigration office whilst very lengthy checks are carried out.
Notaries are therefore often asked to prepare a number of letters that the guardians can carry with them as “proof” of this authority. Depending upon where you’re going, if a child is travelling without its lawful guardians, it is sometimes worth checking with the airline concerned what their requirements might be and even the Embassy of the relevant country. Also check with your travel agent and if in doubt, get a letter prepared by a notary public, not a solicitor. Many countries don’t understand what a solicitor is or recognise their qualifications and you could be wasting your money getting one done by them.
Even once you get into the country that might not be the end of the matter. If the child required any form of medical treatment the authorities will almost certainly want confirmation the guardian was able to give the necessary consent. You MUST make sure the letter provides for this.
Finally, remember also that depending upon where you’re going the notarised letter may require legalisation by means of an Apostille. These will take about 5-10 working days to process and cost a further £30-£40 so do sort this out well before you go!
If your children are going on holiday with their grandparents this year or you’re taking your friends’ kids with your family, it really is worth checking this out in plenty of time to avoid problems later. And don’t forget your suntan cream!