Legally Mom: Nuances of Travelling with Children for Russians
ШThe Legally Mom school of legal literacy supported by the Grant of the President of the Russian Federation hosts a series of educational online lectures. This time, Viktoria Rashina who is a practising lawyer and one of the project’s experts talked about the nuances that parents can face when travelling with children.
Director of the Legally Mom centre of legal support, civil lawyer
Viktoria Rashina is a competent lawyer and a mother who often travels with her children. On the Instagram blog of Legally Mom, she regularly shares her experience, professional knowledge, useful tips, and life hacks making it possible to solve or prevent many problems when travelling.
Although the world is still struggling with the pandemic and international journeys are still less popular, Russian parents continue to ask experts about travelling abroad with their children. That is why the Legally Mom project team decided to devote a separate lecture to legal aspects of travelling with children both in Russia and around the world.
Most Important Documents
The preparation of all the necessary documents is an important stage in getting ready for any journey. Before buying tickets and going to the airport or the railway station, you should check the documents from this list: passport, birth certificate of a child (if he or she is under 14 years old), and a visa (if it is necessary for entering a particular country). A driver’s licence and health insurance may also be helpful.
Of course, the international passport is the main document for travelling abroad for both adults and children. In Russia, there are two types of such passports: new type with biometric data and validity of 10 years or of the old type with standard data and validity of 5 years.
Without an international passport, one can’t cross the border of any state and obtain a visa for those countries where it is required. The document is issued to a person regardless of age. Oftentimes, parents apply for international passports for their newborn children. Quite often disputable situations occur at the border control. Babies grow up very quickly and their appearance changes becoming different from the photo. However, it is important to understand that no valid law presupposes that entry into the country may be denied on this basis. If the border control officer states that it is difficult to identify the child using the photo, Viktoria Rashina advises to promise to change the passport when you return to your country to avoid such situations in the future.
To avoid difficulties at border controls, the expert also advises old type passports for small children. That document is easier and cheaper to replace than a passport with biometric data.
A child’s birth certificate is not a required document for travelling abroad. Border officials may ask to show it when you leave the country if the children and parents have different surnames, racial origin, or too different appearances. Those measures are aimed at ensuring the safety of the child. It is important for parents to approach such situations with understanding.
Additional travel rules appeared largely because of pandemic conditions. Today, some airlines and hotels require the results of PCR tests for COVID-19 or certificates of vaccination from tourists (the rules depend on the country and region). Such certificates are usually valid for only a few days. That’s why it is important to check the necessity to make those tests in advance. In many airports, it is possible to have a PCR test a few hours before check-in. However, to do that, one should arrive in advance and take into account the time one will have to wait in line and receive the results.
Some countries are now actively discussing new measures associated with entering their territory: for example, when a person must have a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19. The rules have not yet entered into force but Viktoria Rashina recommended to keep up with the news and check the requirements for entering a particular country constantly when planning a trip.
Consent and Prohibition to Travel Abroad
Some people still mistakenly believe that the consent of both parents is required when a child travels abroad with one parent. As emphasized by Viktoria Rashina, no such document is required in Russia. The consent of one of the parents is required if the child travels abroad with a grandmother, a grandfather, any other relatives, or people close to the family who are not legal guardians or custodians.
The parent’s consent for the child to travel abroad must be certified by a notary. The original document must be submitted together with the passport at the border control.
Importantly, border control for international travel must be performed when leaving one country and when entering another. While the rules of departure from Russia are regulated by the Russian laws, the rules of entering another country depend on the state where the passengers are going to. Representatives of foreign border control have the right not only to require a document confirming the parent’s consent (or even that of two parents) but also to insist on its translation into English. Viktoria Rashina emphasizes the importance to study the requirements for the child’s entry into a particular country in advance.
Another nuance is related to those situations where divorced or married parents have a disagreement about their children’s travelling. In this case, the father or mother has the right to apply to the migration office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for an official travel ban. However, it is important to understand that this document will be valid until the child reaches the age of 18 years old. Due to recent changes in Russian law, the child will be able to travel abroad with the parent who has written such a statement of objection to travel abroad.
Moreover, such a ban can now be withdrawn if the parents have reached an agreement. However, in case of a dispute, the ban can only be withdrawn by a court decision. At the same time, court practice is still ambiguous. Experts delve into each specific situation, paying attention to each parent’s involvement in the child’s life. That is why adults need to be very careful when imposing a travel ban on their children and approach the decision carefully and consciously.
Travelling Without Parents
Oftentimes, children travel not with their parents who are too busy at work but with their grandparents or other relatives. From the legal point of view, no extra documents are required when travelling within the country. However, when checking into a hotel, the receptionist may ask for a parent’s consent for the child being accompanied by a third party.
However, Viktoria Rashina recommended notarizing a ‘universal’ document: consent for accompanying a child and representing his or her interests. The document may include a number of relatives and its validity period may be extended until the child reaches the age of 18 years old. Such a document is only necessary for hotel accommodation. However, it may also be useful in other cases. The document will greatly simplify the communication of people accompanying the child with representatives of various structures (airlines, border control, or medical facilities when their services are needed).
In Russia, there are no legal restrictions on unaccompanied minor children travelling alone.
A child may travel alone by train or by plane as well. However, it is important for parents to check the rules of the particular carrier in advance.
In most cases, airlines allow children from the age of 5 on board without parents or other adult companions. However, it is often compulsory for children aged less than 12 years to be accompanied for a fee. An airline staff member assists the young passenger with check-in and baggage drop-off. Moreover, a steward watches the child throughout the flight. This is very convenient if your child needs to go to another city or country for some reason (for example, to visit relatives) but you can’t go with him or her.
The law allows Russian children to travel alone to international destinations as well but a parent’s consent is required.
The modern world offers a mass of opportunities for travellers. Getting to know new cities and countries brings people together. That makes travelling as a family even more interesting. The experts at Legally Mom have prepared a lot of useful tips on making such trips as positive as possible.
You can find detailed video lectures on this and many other topics as well as free presentations and checklists on the Legally Mom website.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov