Flying solo: a parent’s tips for travelling from the Netherlands alone with the kids

If you are a parent, the unbridled travel days of stuffing a carry-on with the essentials and grabbing your passport are gone. Travelling with the little critters require a lot more planning, especially if you are travelling with your wee ones on your own.

Granted, international leisure travel seems like a distant memory, but hopefully, come summer, we will again be able to soak up the sun in some blissful holiday destination or travel home for long-overdue family catch-ups.

Make sure you gather the relevant documents

Additional travel documents, I hear you sigh? But why? To ensure that you have the custodial right and permission from the other parent (if there is one) to travel alone with your children. It may cause additional stress, but it is a crucial measure to combat international child abduction.

So before you head out the door, make sure you have taken Dutch bureaucracy into account. Keeping all the required additional documents in your travel wallet could save you plenty of time and tears at the border control.

What documents do you need?

No official global form exists, and the rules and regulations may differ slightly between countries. It is best to check which documents the consulate of your destination country requires.

Here in the Netherlands, the Dutch government made it slightly easier. On the government’s official website, you can download a consent letter. I would strongly advise having a consent letter per trip, which includes the correct dates, and not repurposing the same letter. The Ministry of Defence website provides more information when travelling alone with children under 18.

In short, apart from your passports, you may be asked to produce these documents:

  • A consent letter signed by the other custodial parent
  • A copy of the other custodial parent’s passport

It is always handy to show a return ticket for the child, if applicable.

Depending on your relationship status (if separated or divorced) and custody agreements, you may also be asked to supply recently issued documents such as:

You will also be asked to provide all addresses where the children will stay while abroad.

No matter where you’re off to — be prepared

When travelling from the Netherlands, in Europe or the Schengen area, it is unlikely that these documents will be checked due to the lack of border controls. However, as you are required to travel with these documents for any international travel, it is best to keep them on hand.

If you raced out of the house desperate for that well-deserved family vacation and forgot these documents, do not fret. It may take more time, and will undoubtedly cause heart palpitations. Still, the standard procedure is then for the passport control officer to establish your custodian status via the Parental Responsibility Register. They will also contact the other parent to confirm permission.

For all those new parents out there who are counting down the days for when a family holiday will be possible — make sure not to forget the practicalities in the rush. Best be well prepared to travel the moment we get that green light!

Did you know about these important documents when flying solo with the kids? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: Vladimir Haltakov/Unsplash.

Magdalena Laas
Magdalena is a psychology and education graduate, toying with the idea to eventually obtain her PhD. For now, she's having fun telling stories, be it with words, stills or moving pictures. Born in South Africa, adopted by New Zealand, and welcomed by the United Kingdom, she's currently learning to cycle with an umbrella, in the Netherlands; with her husband, son and well-travelled cat, Juno.


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