Every time I stand in a queue at the airport I tense up, thinking that I must have forgotten some vital bit of paper, such as my hotel reservation. On the return journey I am just as bad, thinking what is in my suitcase? Knowing full well that there is nothing of any interest in it to border control officers.
So when I read an article in the Guardian www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/06/mp-stopped-at-border-over-daughters-name-urges-passports-reform about the airport experiences of Tulip Siddiq, Member of Parliament for Hampstead and Kilburn, my thoughts turned to my next trip abroad and the extra paperwork I should pack, just in case.
Ms Siddiq was travelling back to the UK with her daughter. Like many professional women, Ms Siddiq uses her maiden name and accordingly her passport is in a different name to her daughter. As Ms Siddiq acknowledges border control rightly raised queries about her daughter, especially because, in her view, her daughter Azalea looks nothing like her.
As a child abduction lawyer it is always refreshing to hear about officials scrutinising paperwork and questioning document inconsistencies but Ms Siddiq rightly points out that over the last 5 years 600,000 women have been asked to prove that they are related to their son or daughter when taking their children through UK border control. Nowadays it is not only common for professional women to continue to use their maiden name but for divorcees and unmarried parents to have a different surname to their child.
Ms Siddiq is calling for the passports of children to be endorsed with the names of both parents to reduce the need for detailed enquiries at border control and officials requesting sight of marriage and birth certificates to establish the link between parent and child. Whilst we can all fill in the emergency contact details in our child’s passport having a section on parentage might well reduce parent’s document anxieties and speed up the border control queue, allowing officials to focus on combatting child trafficking and abduction.
Until any new rules come into place parents may want to think about what paperwork they need to take away with them to avoid delays and questions at the airport.
For information about any aspect of children law or if you have any queries or concerns about child abduction please give me a call on +44 (0) 1625 728012 or by email at [email protected]