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Travelling to the UK with a minor

Published:Tuesday | April 17, 2012 | 12:00 AM
John S. Bassie

Dear Mr Bassie,

I hope you can assist me. I will be travelling to the United Kingdom and someone has asked me to take a minor back to the United Kingdom. I am not sure what to expect or even if I am permitted to do this. I am hoping that you can give me some insight as to what I can expect.

- J.T.

Dear J.T.,

If you are travelling to the United Kingdom with a child, then you may be asked questions upon arrival at the United Kingdom border. There are some things that can be done ahead of time to prepare for arrival at the border in the United Kingdom.

It should be noted that the United Kingdom Border Agency has a duty under Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The authorities take this duty very seriously and as such work to protect vulnerable children and those who may be trafficked.

If you travel to the United Kingdom with a child, that is, he or she is under 18 years of age, and you are not the child's parent, or you may even appear not to be the parent, for example, if you have a different family name, the authorities may ask you a few questions about your relationship with the child. Before the authorities allow children to leave or enter the United Kingdom border, the authorities may want to find out the relationship with the adult or adults who are travelling with the child or meeting the child on arrival. The United Kingdom authorities have stated that it will always do this as quickly and sensitively as possible, as they do not want to cause unnecessary delay to the parties who are travelling.

In order to facilitate and assist in traversing the United Kingdom border, you should carry evidence of your relationship with the child. Also, you should take with you the reason why you are travelling with the child. This evidence could include copies of a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child. Also, if the situation is that the person travelling with the child is a parent but the family name is different, then a divorce or marriage certificate may be taken as proof. Also, if you are not the parent, then a letter from the child's parent or parents giving authority for the child to travel with you and their contact details should be taken by you.

Good luck.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a chartered arbitrator. Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com.