This page provides information on when you can take a child on holiday, whose permission is required and how you can prevent a parent from taking a child outside of England and Wales. It also includes information on taking a child on holiday during school term-time.
Do I need permission to take my child on holiday within England and Wales?
You can take your child under 16 anywhere within England and Wales without the permission of the other person with parental responsibility as long as there is no order in place prohibiting this.
If there is a Contact Order or a Child Arrangements Order specifying contact between a child and another person then both parties must comply with this Order and make the child available for contact as stated in the order unless agreed otherwise. For example, if a parent has contact over the weekend and you wish to take the child within England and Wales for the whole week you will need the permission of the parent to do this or the permission of the court (see below). For more information see our information page on Contact.
Do I need permission to take my child on holiday outside of England and Wales?
You require the permission of all those with parental responsibility or permission from the court before you can take a child under 16 out of England and Wales. For more information on whose consent is required see our information page on Parental Responsibility.
If you are named as the person that the child lives with under a Child Arrangements Order or a Residence Order then you may take your child out of England and Wales for up to 28 days without the consent of others with parental responsibility. If you hold a Special Guardianship Order for the child then you can take the child out of England and Wales for up to three months without the consent of others with parental responsibility. The only exception to both of these is if there is a Prohibited Steps Order in place preventing you from removing the child from the jurisdiction.
For more information on Child Arrangements Orders and Residence Orders see our information page on Residence.
For more information on a Special Guardianship Order see our information page on Special Guardianship.
It may be the criminal offence of abduction if you take or send a child outside of England and Wales without the appropriate consent. For more information see our information page on Abduction.
What form of consent is required from the other person with parental responsibility?
The law does not specify what form this consent must take or whether the absence of the objection from the other person with parental responsibility will be enough. It is advisable that you get the written consent of the other person with parental responsibility in the form of a signed letter. This document can then be used to prove that you have all the necessary permissions to the border and port controls.
It is also worth checking with the travel operator and border control agencies whether any other forms of evidence will be required to prove that the child is travelling with the appropriate consent.
Please note that some countries have very strict visa requirements. We are aware that since June 2015 South Africa has extra requirements where only one parent is travelling with a child under 18, where a child is unaccompanied or where a child is travelling with someone other than their parent(s). For more information see the government South Africa entry requirements page.
For information on other country travel requirements consult the government Foreign Travel Advice page.
What do I do if the other person with parental responsibility refuses consent?
If you cannot get the appropriate consent from the other person with parental responsibility or you wish to take a child out of England and Wales for a period longer than you are allowed to under a Child Arrangements Order, Residence Order of Special Guardianship Order then it is possible to seek the permission of the court to remove the child from England and Wales for a temporary period.
Before applying to court it is a legal requirement to attempt mediation with the other person with parental responsibility to try to reach an agreement. For more information see our information page on Family Mediation.
If mediation is unsuccessful then you can apply to court for a Specific Issue Order for the court’s permission to take the child on holiday outside of England and Wales. To do this you must complete the form C100.
The court will grant permission if it can be demonstrated that it is in the best interests of the child to go on the holiday. In reaching this decision the court will consider the welfare checklist as follows:
- the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding)
- the child's physical, emotional and educational needs
- the likely effect of any change in the child's circumstances
- the child's age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant
- any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- how capable each parent, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child's needs
- the range of powers available to the court.
The respondent can oppose this in court and provide reasons why they believe that it would not be in the child’s best interests to go.
If you wish to take your child out of England and Wales for a long period or permanently then it is more appropriate to apply for a Removal from Jurisdiction Order. For more information see our How to Guide on Removal from jurisdiction.
What if I do not agree to a child being taken on holiday but the parent is likely to go anyway?
It is possible to apply to court for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent a parent or other person with parental responsibility from taking a child out of England and Wales without the appropriate consent. To do this you must complete the form C100.
The court will consider what is in the child’s best interests having regard to the welfare checklist as listed above and the person seeking the child can oppose this application.
What if the other person with parental responsibility has taken the child out of England and Wales without my consent?
If a child has been taken outside of England and Wales without the appropriate consent then the relevant person may have committed the offence of abduction and you need to take action as soon as possible to get the child returned. For more information see our information page on Abduction.
What if the other person with parental responsibility has taken the child somewhere within England and Wales and I do not know their whereabouts?
It is possible to make an application to court to request disclosure of a child’s whereabouts, for more information see our information page on Locating a child.
Can I take my child on holiday during school term-time?
Headteachers will only authorise holiday during term-time in exceptional circumstances. You should put your request in writing to the school as soon as possible. If you go on a holiday without the authorisation of the head teacher then you may be liable to pay a fine and/or be prosecuted for non-attendance. For more information see our information page on School attendance and absence.