If you’re 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 requires a lot more planning, especially if you are travelling with your wee ones on your own.
The keyword above is planning, so here are the most important things to keep in mind as you write out your pre-flight checklist:
Make sure you gather the relevant documents
Additional travel documents, I hear you sigh. But why? This is 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’s best to check which documents the consulate of your destination country requires.
Here in the Netherlands, the Dutch government had made it slightly easier. On the government’s official website, you can download a consent letter. I would strongly advise having a consent letter for every trip, which includes the correct dates, rather than 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, don’t fret! It might take more time, and will undoubtedly cause heart palpitations, however, the standard procedure is 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 the next family holiday — make sure not to forget the practicalities in the rush.
Did you know about these important documents when flying solo with the kids? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2021, and was fully updated in September 2022 for your reading pleasure.