Wednesday 2 Juni the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, announced the long-awaited news that we would all be allowed to go off on holiday this year. While this was of course a huge relief to many people, it remains important to plan your travel arrangements very carefully and to keep a close eye on the foreign travel advice issued by the Dutch government. If you’re planning to go off on holiday as a single parent with your minor child (or children), don’t forget that you need to make sure that your partner or ex-partner has given his or her consent. This applies whether you’re married, in a registered partnership or divorced. It also applies if you do not have parental responsibility for your child and still wish to take him or her with you on holiday: you need to obtain the formal consent of the parent who has parental responsibility.
Carefully plan your trip
If you’re intending to travel abroad on holiday, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the foreign travel advice issued by the Dutch government. The best way of doing this is by checking the information on the Dutch government’s travel information website. It contains travel advice issued by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs on countries to which holiday travel is possible and those to which travel is not advisable, as well as other information for travellers.
Avoid problems at the border: take a consent form with you
If you’re travelling on your own with your child, you may run into problems with the border controls in an airport or at a land border crossing, particularly if your child has a different surname from yours. If you’re travelling within the Schengen region (most European countries have signed up to the Schengen Agreement), you run less risk of being asked to show your passport. However, just to be safe, we would advise you to have a consent form with you even if you’re travelling to a Schengen country.
Download the consent form here.
Under Dutch law, if a minor is travelling with a single parent, the Dutch border police (Koninklijke Marechaussee) are required to ascertain whether the adult accompanying the child has the other parent’s consent. This check is also performed if there are reasons to suspect that the child in question may have been abducted.
You must also obtain consent if your child needs a visa
If you and your child are travelling to a country for which you need a visa, bear in mind that both parents need to give their consent to the visa application for your child.
Should your child have an ID document of his or her own?
Since 26 June 2012, it has no longer been possible simply to add your child’s name to your own (or your partner’s) passport. Under the new regulations, not only is everyone required to have an ID document of their own, but all existing additional entries have been automatically cancelled. If you are planning to apply for an ID card, passport or visa on your child’s behalf, it’s worth asking the other parent for their consent in good time.
What documents should you take with you?
The authorities in the country to which you are travelling may ask you to produce other documents in addition to a consent form. Before departing on holiday, you should therefore enquire at the national embassy or consular office in the country in question whether any additional requirements apply to minors entering the country who are accompanied by a single parent.
As stated on the consent form, you should in any event make sure that you have the following documents with you in addition to your child’s ID document:
- a statement from the other person with parental responsibility, giving his or her consent to the foreign trip
- a copy of the passport belonging to the parent who has given his or her consent
- a recent copy of the relevant entry in the ‘parental responsibility register’ (gezagsregister)
- a recent copy of the child’s entry in the Personal Records Database (i.e. the municipal personal records)
- where applicable: a court judgment on custody and access
- if you are planning to stay at a number of different addresses: all the addresses
- where applicable: a parenting plan (ouderschapsplan).
What if the other parent doesn’t give his or her consent?
If the other parent refuses to give his or her consent, you can apply to the court for what is known as ‘proxy consent’ (vervangende toestemming). This means that the court’s consent takes the place of the other parent’s consent.
What if you’re the other parent and you’re worried that your child may not return home after the trip?
If you’ve been asked (or put under pressure) to give your consent to the other parent taking your child on a foreign trip, and you’re concerned that the parent travelling with your child is not planning to come back afterwards, you should get in touch with the International Child Abduction Centre (centrum internationale kinderontvoering).
What if you’re worried that your child may be in danger?
If you’re worried that your child may be at risk during a foreign trip, you are entitled to withhold your consent. In that case, the other parent will have to apply to the court for ‘proxy consent’. It’s up to the court to decide whether your objections are well-founded and hence whether or not to give its consent on your behalf.
Like to know more?
If you’re a single parent and are planning to take your child or children abroad, do take a look at the information provided on the Dutch government’s website (most of the information is in Dutch, but an English version of the consent form is available). If you’re in doubt about anything, do feel free to get in touch with me or one of my fellow family lawyers. We’ll do our best to make sure that you and your child have a great, carefree holiday!