Are you travelling internationally with your children this summer? Does your surname match your children’s surname on your passport?!
If you do not share a surname with your child or children, you might be subject to questioning by border control. In fact border control have a duty to question you. It is very likely your child or children will also be subjected to questioning. It is likely further that you will be obliged to produce additional official documentation, like birth certificates, to prove that you are, indeed, the parent to your child. Passport control has a duty to screen for possible child abduction or trafficking which is a good thing.
However unnecessary questioning is a real issue for some parents in the United Kingdom. The vast majority affected are mothers. The landscape in family law is ever changing. More and more couples are choosing not to marry. As many as two million children are living with unmarried cohabiting parents. Only around 4% of children are given their mother's surname.
If you are un-married or divorced from the father of your children, remarried or have chosen to keep your own surname it would be advisable to bring additional official documentation while travelling this summer.
An estimated 600,000 women have been stopped by border control around the world in the last five years. Many interrogations cause panic, embarrassment and even missed flights. There could be, however, a simple solution for the modern family and that would require a small change to the UK passport design.
A Parental Passport Campaign began in recent years in an attempt to end the confusion by adding both parents' names to children's passports. The Home Office however responded with the following statement;
"A passport is a document for travel. It’s fundamental purpose would change if it were to be used to identify a parental relationship."
Really? Isn’t it the case that most of us have used our passports as a form of identification for a myriad of reasons other than travel? Such as bank accounts, stocks and shares to name but a few?
The inclusion of both parents' names on children's passports would simplify and expedite border controls obligatory checks for child abduction and trafficking. It would also relieve tired, cranky true parents and children from lengthy unnecessary questioning after a long flight. Let’s take another look at the Parental Passport Campaign.
Hilary is a highly experienced family practitioner across three jurisdictions. She covers all areas of family law. She is regularly instructed in international child abduction, child relocation and international jurisdictional issues (habitual residence) before the High Court most recently involving Syria, Libya, South Africa, India, Tanzania and Australia.