Permission to Travel Abroad with Children - Tighter Consent Rules

In June 2015, South Africa introduced new immigration rules with an onus on tighter parental consent to travel in an attempt to combat child-trafficking on the African continent. South Africa is not the only country to implement strict parental consent to travel requirements. For example, the USA, Canada, Brazil and Portugal employ stringent travel requirements.

South Africa’s new rules require parents to produce a birth certificate to prove that any minor travelling with them is their own child. In the case that a minor is travelling with a non-biologically related adult, or with only one parent, there are even greater formalities: a copy of the birth certificate of the child, an affidavit from the parent(s) or legal guardian of the child and copies of their identity documents or passports as well as their contact details are all required.

Although some countries, like South Africa, have their own forms of consent which require numerous supporting documents, others have no formal precedents. This does not mean that there are no formal requirements. In such cases, it is prudent to bring evidence with you to establish your relationship with the child in question. This might include a copy of a birth or adoption certificate; divorce or marriage certificates (even if you are the parent but have a different surname to the child); or a letter with contact details from one or both parents, giving consent for the child to travel with you. Indeed, the UK Government website ( states that: ‘A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you’ve got permission to take them abroad.’ However, a consent letter may not always guarantee that a child will be allowed to travel abroad.

If you require a consent affidavit, it may also need to be witnessed by a Notary Public. While many tour operators and airlines will remind travellers of the specific requirements for their chosen destination, it is still always wise to check the entry and exit requirements of the country to which you are travelling.

It is also important to consider whether the consent of a parent or guardian may be required in other cases whilst abroad, such as medical treatment or marriage.

If your child is due to travel without one or both parents and you need a Notary to witness documents giving consent to travel, please contact Linda Chadwick on 01689 887850 or email

Although correct at the time of publication, the contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. Please contact us for the latest legal position.