Last names cause confusion: falling when on holiday with the patchwork family

In a patchwork family live children who come from different parents.

Different surnames are not the only problem that patchwork families may have while traveling, but the biggest. What documents do you need and where do you get them from? And are there countries that are particularly strict? An overview.

When patchwork families want to go on holiday, there is a big problem: not only father and mother often have different surnames, but sometimes the children as well. If you can’t show all the necessary documents when entering the country, you’ll quickly run into problems. The most important questions and answers:

What do patchwork families need to consider?

Whether at the airport or when crossing the border by car – the different names of parents and children are the problem. “Border police officers can’t tell whether the children really belong to their parents,” says Eva Becker, a family law lawyer in Berlin. If parents cannot identify themselves and the children properly, the border police can refuse entry and even departure from Germany. The suspicion of child abduction is quickly aroused. For this reason, certain documents are even required for flights within Germany.

However, there are usually no problems with holiday bookings themselves. “In the booking systems of tour operators, family members can be listed with different names,” says Susanne Wohlgemuth of tour operator FTI Touristik. Only the identity card data with the age of all fellow travellers is required.

Where can I find out which documents are required for entry?

Which identity papers and additional documents patchwork families need depends on the destination country. “Some countries have rather loose, others very special entry regulations,” says Iris Lohmüller of Visa Dienst Bonn. Families should inform themselves about this well in advance so that the papers are available to all at the start of the trip. This is possible with visa services as well as with the consulates and embassies of the respective country in Germany.

The tour operator or the travel agency also have a duty to provide information, says travel lawyer Paul Degott from Hanover. The respective papers should be available in the original if possible. Although it is possible to obtain temporary identity documents from the Federal Police at the airport, they are not always recognised. “Some airlines refuse to carry passengers despite the replacement documents,” says Degott.

What documents do you need and where do you get them from?

For holiday trips within Germany, parents should always have a power of attorney from the other parent with them. “It’s enough to write a letter yourself,” says Becker. It requires information about the travel time, the address of the holiday destination, the name of the child and of course the signature of the other parent. “It is also important to always have a copy of the identity card of the other parent with you,” says Becker. In addition, a certified copy of the children’s birth certificate is often required. This is available at the registry office for an administration fee.

For trips abroad, the power of attorney is supplemented by a medical power of attorney. “This is important if something medical has to be decided acutely on holiday,” says Becker. It can also be written by yourself. And not to forget: In addition to identity documents, some countries also require other documents such as a visa.

At what age do children need identification papers?

Also children and even newborns must be able to identify themselves. ID cards and child passports are therefore available from the age of zero. For children under the age of 16, the consent of both parents is required. If only one parent requests it, the power of attorney of the other is nevertheless necessary. Even if the appearance of infants and toddlers changes rapidly as they grow: A current photo is obligatory for the identity papers.

Are there countries that are particularly strict?

In some countries, entry requirements for patchwork families are stricter than elsewhere. South Africa is one of them: The country still has a big problem with human trafficking. To prevent child abductions from simply being overlooked, South Africa requires minors under the age of 18 to have a passport, a certified birth certificate and the consent of the other parent as an affidavit.

It must be authenticated by the South African Embassy, the Consulate General, a notary public or an authority. “The declaration must not be more than four months old when entering South Africa,” says Theresa Bay-Müller, Head of South African Tourism Europe. In the case of adoptive children, the adoption certificate is also required. With exclusive custody the respective court resolution over the guardianship is required.

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Christina Cherry
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