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Anyone been asked for birth cert as well as passport to prove motherhood?

(38 Posts)
Leviathan Wed 27-Aug-14 22:58:52

Just been to Belgium on the Eurostar with DS aged 3.5. As we were leaving, Belgian border control guy asked if I had his birth certificate as we have different surnames. I didn't and he asked where his dad was (at work in the UK) and he said 'next time make sure you have his birth certificate'.

Anyone else had this problem? Doesn't that make the passport superfluous?

While he was respectful, it is none of his business where DS dad is, I could be single etc…

I was so shocked (visions of having DS taken from me crossed my mind) that I forgot to point out that one of DS middle names is my surname...

exexpat Wed 27-Aug-14 23:06:22

Yes, this is very common on the Eurostar returning to the UK, and also coming into Heathrow. I have a different surname from my DCs, and now always travel with copies of their birth certificates, and also a copy of their father's death certificate in lieu of a letter of permission to travel, which they can also ask for.

There have been lots of threads about this over the past few years, so it is certainly not a one-off.

It is supposedly to prevent child abduction/child trafficking, but seems based on very muddled thinking to me: many women (including ones married to their children's fathers) have different surnames and travel with children but without husband/partner - just having a different surname is no indication at all that you are not related or do not have the right to travel with a child. Many parental abductions are carried out by fathers who often share a surname with the child but have not been granted residency.

Also, I have only ever been asked for this on the way back into the UK not when leaving the UK, which seems a bit silly if the idea is to stop abductions. And even if I was not related to the children, and did not have permission to travel with them, both the DCs have British passports, so would they really stop them re-entering the UK?

The requirement to travel with birth certificates is also not widely known or publicised, which is a bit stupid.

exexpat Wed 27-Aug-14 23:12:37

This website explains about needing a birth certificate and a letter of permission if only one parent is travelling with the child and a news story about it here

Leviathan Wed 27-Aug-14 23:13:45

Thanks, yes it seems a bit nuts… Just seen MN page and another thread on this.

So in theory, they wouldn't ask if my sister in law took him out the country?!

Had they questioned him, I'm sure he would have told them very eloquently who I am - he won't let DP take him into another room at times!

Bumply Wed 27-Aug-14 23:14:12

I had this once on an internal flight. There was me thinking only I needed ID to pick up the tickets and instead they nearly didn't let me fly because I didn't have birth certificates that proved I was the mother of my sons.

Leviathan Wed 27-Aug-14 23:20:06

Thanks exexpat, sounds like I am totally not alone! I had so thought I covered all the bases when I travelled...

exexpat Wed 27-Aug-14 23:23:28

It is crazy - just looked up this story I remember someone else linked to (Daily Mail, I'm afraid) - a woman was divorced and remarried so had no problem travelling with her step-daughter, but got questioned about her daughter. It really is all a bit ridiculous and based on some rather ill-thought-out/old-fashioned/sexist ideas.

CrimeaRiver Wed 27-Aug-14 23:26:00

I have had the same on the Eurostar (staff must have had a training day on child abductions) and heathrow. I have stapled a copy of dad's birth cert into the back of her passport (not British). In Paris the first time the guy at immigration actually said that he was letting me through because dd is the spitting image of me. I kid you not.

tribpot Wed 27-Aug-14 23:27:17

Bloody hell. Just reading the site - I draw the line at proving I am married to my son's father merely because I haven't changed my name. What relevance does that have? (I also agree having to prove I'm his mother purely because our surnames are different is pretty stupid, but that's beyond the pale).

It doesn't seem beyond the wit of most child abductors to travel with a family member of the opposite gender and right surname in order to 'fool' the border agencies into assuming they are the child's parents and not asking for proof of permission to travel.

I have had an interesting moment at passport control when ds was little - he has a full name which he knows but isn't used, he's known by a nickname. But his full name isn't pronounced the same way in Dutch as in English, so the border guard is asking for him in his full name but pronounced differently - of course ds is completely oblivious like 'who the hell is that?'. Coupled with a passport with a photo of him as a baby when he was about 4 at the time ... all in all not a very convincing story grin

exexpat Wed 27-Aug-14 23:30:56

DD is a complete mini-me (well, not so mini any more - she's now 11 and taller than me) and both children have my surname as a middle name but we still get asked about our relationship. Quite often the passport control people will ask the children 'who is this?' or '…and you are travelling with your…?' rather than asking me. I've only had to dig the certificates out to show them a couple of times, but I always take them now just in case.

I know from personal experience that Canadian border control also questions lone parents, and I think the US and Mexico are pretty hot on it too.

wasacasa Wed 27-Aug-14 23:31:51

I've had this a few times coming back into the UK. Going on holiday to the USA this year I took a huge bundle of birth, death and marriage certs to show why I have a different name to my 10 year old ds. I wasn't asked once leaving the UK, entering the US or re entering the UK.
It really annoys me. Either it's a rule or it isn't a rule. Why do they make a huge fuss sometimes and don't mention it other times.
Also my son is nearly 11 and perfectly capable of explaining why we have different surnames!

DrankSangriaInThePark Wed 27-Aug-14 23:33:25

It really has less to do with different surnames and more to do with any minors travelling without both parents.
So a child travelling with 2 adults who are unrelated may be less likely to be questioned than a child travelling alone with a mother or father.
20 yrs ago when I worked in a related field we all were told in training that airport staff will always look more closely at a single man travelling alone with a child in case of parental abduction.

nancy75 Wed 27-Aug-14 23:39:50

My daughter flew from Spain with my parents last week, they have different surnames and are clearly not her parents (unless my mum gave birth when she was 50) nobody asked them a thing. I had given My mum DD's birth certificate, wrote a letter from DP & Me giving permission to travel and even copied both mine & dp's passports just in case. It all stayed in the bag!

exexpat Wed 27-Aug-14 23:40:26

It shouldn't be to do with surnames, and yes anyone travelling with children (with or without a partner - child traffickers often operate in couples) should really be looked at carefully, but judging by my own experience, and lots of previous threads on here and plenty of news stories, border officials really do seem to place a lot of emphasis on shared surnames (see that story about the woman with the same-named stepdaughter but different-named children - I think she was travelling as a family with her new husband too).

Certainly when I have asked why I am being asked these questions, the reply has always been that it is because of the different surnames.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 28-Aug-14 09:24:56

Have also seen other families being asked the self same questions on that particular Eurostar route.

My son was asked a few years ago by a UK Border official at Heathrow if we were his parents. We all were travelling together and have the same surname.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 29-Aug-14 11:35:14

It is totally sexist as someone has pointed out. Why would the same surname be the basis of someone not abducting a child? Like the step children someone pointed out already? Or the SIL, aunts, cousins. It's just totally crazy. Why don't they just print the parents name on the children's passport (or anyone who has parental authority) and be done with that?

DrankSangriaInThePark Fri 29-Aug-14 14:17:04

Because in 9 cases out of 10 it's a parent abducting their own child to get back at the other parent.

Lordster Mon 01-Sep-14 17:10:48

I've just had this and was astounded! My children have their father's surname and look nothing like me (or their photos taken as babies). The fact that we were only stopped on the Eurostar coming into the UK rather than leaving seemed less than logical. Seems unreasonable that fathers who share surnames but do not have legal ability to take children out of the country without permission would presumably not be stopped?

Worth double barrelling the surnames to avoid future hassle?!

needmoresleep31 Thu 11-Sep-14 12:55:12

I know they're really hot on this in Canada, you have to have a legal letter done showing permission if either parent takes a child out of the country...

Coffeeinapapercup Thu 11-Sep-14 21:13:25

I have a different surname to DCs. I take copy of divorce certificate, deed poll for the change of my name and birth certificates. Most recently I took email showing DC's Dad's knew we had gone. I resent taking this much paperwork but with the political climate the way it is I'd rather take them than have any hassle if I was stopped.

I've not have to show them or been questioned at all

rootypig Thu 11-Sep-14 21:17:44

It's the opposite assumption that bothers me - that anyone who shares my child's surname can more her about as they please.

They should simply list those with parental responsibility in the back of a child's passport, and ask anyone else travelling with them to carry authorisation.

rootypig Thu 11-Sep-14 21:18:02


rootypig Thu 11-Sep-14 21:20:32

Oh sorry OneLittle, on phone and missed your post.

Because in 9 cases out of 10 it's a parent abducting their own child to get back at the other parent.

But Drank atm they just ask for proof that you're the parent /married to the other parent anyway. Otherwise any person travelling alone with a child would have to provide authorisation, including those who share a name. Listing parental responsibility in the passport would amount to the same thing, but without the rigmarole.

TortoiseUpATreeAgain Thu 11-Sep-14 21:38:54

I've never had a problem travelling with the DCs by myself in Europe and to and from India (although IIRC DH booked the tickets to India so it would be fairly obvious he didn't object to our going). But as with pps it may help that DD1 is actually a clone of me.

wingcommandergallic Thu 11-Sep-14 21:44:43

Seems very hit and miss. Surely it would be easier to have some form of standard document issued from the passport office?

I wonder how Spanish parents cope? They never have same name as their kids.

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