When you’re travelling with children, it’s useful to be aware of the particular issues and complications that can arise.
Most countries, including Ireland, require a child to have their own passport. The practice of allowing children to be included on a parent’s passport is being phased out internationally.
If your children are named on your passport, and don’t have passports of their own, we strongly advise you to get individual passports for them. You can learn more about passports for children and guardian consent on our Consent for Children page.
At a very minimum, you’ll need to check with the Embassy of the country you intend to visit whether the children you’re travelling with will be allowed to enter and exit the country if they don’t have their own passports.
Find out more about applying for a child’s passport by reading answers to our frequently asked children’s passport questions.
If you’re travelling with children, be aware that some countries require extra documentation showing that one or both of the children’s parents has consented to them travelling.
If you are travelling with someone else’s child or with a child with a different surname, you may need to explain the relationship between you and the child to immigration officers in the country to which you are travelling. If you are travelling alone with your child, you may have to provide evidence that you have the other parent’s consent to travel.
In addition to travelling with their own valid passport or ID card, all children travelling alone, with adults who are not their legal guardian or with only one parent should note that they may need an extra (official) document signed by their parents, second parent or legal guardian(s) authorising them to travel.
There are no overarching EU rules on this matter, with each EU country deciding if the child requires official authorisation from their parent(s)/guardian(s) for passage through and to the respective jurisdiction. Check the exact rules for the countries you are travelling to and from: Documents for minors travelling in the EU. Rules and authorisations needed.
As the position varies widely outside the EU too, it’s imperative that travellers review the travel requirements for the country they are travelling along with any countries they will transit through on route to their end destination, well in advance of their journey to give them due time to comply with local arrangements. We recommend that you contact the Embassy of the country you are travelling to, to learn more about their requirements.
The abduction of a child is a devastating experience for any parent. Further information on recourse is available here.
Children with dual nationality
If your child has dual nationality, and if there are any parental custody issues, it’s important to get advice before you consent to a passport being issued for them or agree to them travelling to another country (even if you’re travelling with them).
Be particularly careful if your child’s proposed destination is a country that:
- Is not party to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.
- Has a legal system with a reputation for favouring one gender or religion above the other in relation to family matters.
Laws regarding surrogacy and standards of healthcare vary from country-to-country. Be sure to check our country-specific travel advice pages for further information, and always consult with the relevant professionals before you enter into a surrogacy arrangement.
While abroad you should be vigilant about your child’s safety.
- Pay particular attention around swimming pools or other water hazards.
- Take all necessary precautions when driving (e.g. using booster seats and seatbelts, familiarising yourself with maps before you set out on your journey).
- Check availability of items that you will need (e.g. baby formula or medication). Don’t assume that these items will be readily available at your destination.
- Have small children carry their name and your contact details with them, particularly if you’re visiting busy tourist attractions. This will make it easier for you to be reunited with them if you get separated.
Know before you go
Read our Know Before You Go advice before you travel.
Applying for a child’s passport
Get more information on how to apply for a child’s passport