ASK AN EXPERT: Can I legally travel alone with my children?

We spoke with an expert in family law about your obligations when traveling with children solo this holiday season and all year round.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 21.12.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 24.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

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The Christmas holidays are just around the corner, and many of us plan to visit family and friends living abroad. To avoid any surprises while doing so, we asked Jiří Melkus of MELKUS KEJLA & PARTNERS about holiday travel with children from a legal standpoint.

Melkus told us that if you are planning to travel with children, keep in mind that some special conditions may apply. Generally, children should travel with their own passport and visa (if subject to visa requirements) or a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen state.

For children who aren't traveling with their parents (or other legal guardians), written consent from the legal guardians is required. This consent should include permission to travel with the child and any necessary medical and emergency contact information. 

A verified signature is also recommended as a general precaution if the child is traveling with only one parent to avoid any accusations of child abduction.

Melkus cites the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which says: "In general, the consent of the other parent is usually not required for a short-term trip abroad or on vacation. However, it is advisable to get the consent of the other parent to travel, especially for longer stays abroad."

To play it safe, however, Melkus recommends arranging consent for short-term stays abroad as well, especially in the case of unmarried couples or parents who have a different last name than their child.

TIP: The Office for the International Protection of Children is a good resource for parents who frequently travel abroad.

Melkus says that ideally, the signature should be notarized (especially while traveling outside of the EU). If you don't have time to visit a notary or post office, a non-authorized signature is better than no signature at all.

The consent should be written in the language of the destination country (or a major world language, e.g., English).

Tips for traveling with kids in the EU and beyond

  • A card with basic personal data (name, date of birth, name, and phone number of accompanying person) should be on the child's person in case you are separated.
  • When traveling by plane, check with the airline in advance whether it has specific conditions for the travel of minors.
  • Read more about travel with children from the Czech Republic within the Schengen area on the Europa.eu travel portal where you can check the requirements of all the countries through which the child will pass.

In the written travel consent, make sure you identify the child and the accompanying adult (indicate the first and last name, date of birth, and travel document number), the destination, and the dates of the trip. Download a consent form template here.

When traveling with a newborn or small child, Melkus also recommends carrying a photocopy of the minor's birth certificate with you or a court decision on the custody of the child if the parents are separated or divorced.

If you have any further questions regarding your legal obligations when traveling outside of the Czech Republic, contact Melkus Kejla & Partners at info@melkuskejla.cz.

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