Know Before You Go: Border Control and Solo Parent Travel

February 07, 2014 By Donna Bardsley Comments

If you're planning on taking a solo trip with your little one, you'll need to have a few extra documents on hand when you leave the country. Find out exactly what you'll need to ensure a smooth journey.

Traveling with children can seemingly add miles to your checklist, and traveling as a solo parent can be even more complicated. Without the required documentation, you might be delayed at Passport Control. Traveling with proper documentation will save you time and hassle, and can protect you and your children.

There is no official form or document – it varies from country to country. Essentially, you need to be able to prove that you have parental/custodial rights, and that you have the consent of the other custodial parent to take the child out of the country.

The Dutch Ministry of Defence offers information about traveling with children and provides a consent letter for minors traveling abroad. According to the Defensie, other helpful documentation includes:

  • A copy of the passport of the other parent who has given consent
  • A return plane ticket for the child

In some custody situations, you might also need to provide further documentation such as:

  • A certified copy of the child's birth certificate
  • A recent extract from the parental authority register
  • A recent extract from the Personal Records Database of your municipality (GBA)
  • If applicable, a statement regarding custody and visiting rights

Always check with the consulate of your destination country, as the accepted  or required documents might be different.

In the Netherlands, border checks are performed for all travel outside of the Schengen Area. Within the Schengen area, there is no border control, and it is therefore unlikely you will be checked. However, as a solo parent, you are still required to carry documentation for all international travel and it's always best to be prepared. (Note: the UK is not part of the Schengen area, and you do need to provide documentation if that is your destination.)

Essentially, you need to be able to prove that you have parental/custodial  rights, and that you have the consent of the other custodial parent to take the child out of the country.

Members of Amsterdam Mamas have reported being asked for documentation regardless of whether their surname is the same as their child. Don’t assume you will not be questioned just because you share the same last name. They also report inconsistent border checks, so just because you are not checked one time does not mean you won't be checked on another trip. 

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. If you forget the documentation at home, don’t despair. Standard procedure is for the Passport Control officer to check with the municipality records office (GBA) to confirm parental authority, and/or contact the other parent for consent. If you have questions, it is always advisable to contact the Ministry of Defense before traveling. 

Listen to our interview on The Amsterdam Mamas Podcast about this topic with Ian Curry-Sumner, an international family law consultant in the Netherlands. 

Donna Bardsley lives in Amsterdam, and is the travel-loving mother of three homebodies who hate to leave the house. She is also the Head Editor and Podcast Showrunner for Amsterdam Mamas.

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