We’ve invited my nine-year-olds’ best friend to come on holiday to France with us this summer. Is there anything I need to do when travelling with a child that isn’t my own? Mary, Chippenham
You are right to check what’s needed before your trip. Border security agents at airports and ferry terminals now take more scrutiny of children travelling with adults who are not their parents or legal guardians. This follows some high profile abduction cases and increased reports of child trafficking. Even grandparents travelling with their grandchildren can get pulled aside, especially if you have different surnames.
Firstly, make sure the child has their own passport and is not on their parents’ or they won’t be able to leave the country. While it’s not compulsory to carry any form of evidence that you have permission to travel with the child, it could save a lot of time and stress if you do get stopped either in the UK or France.
The Home Office recommends carrying a letter of authority from the parents stating that you are the guardian of that child for the period you’re away, some details of the trip and their contact information. They even have a template that you can download from the Home Office website. This will also be useful if there are any accidents or illness and the child needs consent for medical treatment. Also, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance for the child. It’s likely he or she won’t be covered by your family policy.