This page provides general tips for travelling with children, information for parents whose children are travelling without them, and information about child custody and abduction
It is important to take out comprehensive travel insurance for yourself and your children before heading overseas. Make sure your policy covers all medical expenses for injury or illness, including for pre-existing medical conditions, and is valid for all activities you plan to undertake on your trip. Accidents can happen to anyone, and medical costs overseas can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Your insurance should also cover theft of valuables, damage to baggage and cancellations or interruptions to flight plans. See our Travel insurance buying guide for information about how to make sure you get the right insurance for your circumstances.
Being well prepared will help things go smoothly when travelling with young children.
If you are planning to place your child or children in a child care facility or employ baby sitters or nannies overseas, you should satisfy yourself about the standards of child care provided in the country concerned as they may differ from those in Australia. You may wish to research issues such as:
Visit your doctor or travel clinic at least eight weeks before you depart to discuss any health issues and any destination-specific vaccination requirements for you and your family.
If your child takes medication, confirm that it is legal in the country you are going to by checking the travel advice and contacting the high commission, embassy or consulate of that country. In some countries for example, medication to treat ADHD is restricted. You should also read our Health page for general advice on travelling with medication.
Children travelling alone, with a guardian or with one or both parents are able to depart Australia just with their passport and the appropriate visa for their destination. No additional documentation is required.
However, many foreign countries require additional specific documentation to be carried by children travelling alone, with a guardian or with one parent. Check the entry requirements for children before travelling by contacting the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country you plan to visit.
In addition to a valid passport and the appropriate entry visa, the sorts of documents required for a child to enter, travel in or depart another country may include:
Most airlines have rules regarding unaccompanied minors. Children under the age of 15 who are travelling alone are generally regarded as unaccompanied minors requiring parents or guardians to fill out a permission form for the child’s travel. For further information, including on in-flight protocols for unaccompanied minors, contact the airline you’re planning to fly on or visit their website.
If you are required to make child support payments, you must ensure that payments are up to date as a Departure Prohibition Order can be issued to prevent you from leaving Australia if you are in arrears. If you plan to travel but have outstanding child support and have not made a payment arrangement, call 131 272 to discuss your options or visit the Department of Human Services website.
Some countries do not recognise dual nationality. This can affect the future guardianship of a child, as decisions on custody may be based on local law. If you are travelling with children who may be considered nationals of another country, or if in doubt about particular circumstances relating to your children, you should seek legal advice before travelling.
Women and children of any nationality can be subject to "stop orders" in some countries, including Lebanon and Egypt, where their husbands, fathers or other relatives can legally prevent them leaving the country.
If you are concerned that your child may be taken out of Australia without your consent, you can register your child on the Family Law Watchlist, administered by the Australian Federal Police.
If you believe your child has been abducted, taken overseas against your wishes or wrongfully removed or detained overseas, assistance may be available from the Attorney-General's Department or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as set out below.
If your child has been taken to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction you can apply to the Attorney-General's Department for assistance with the return of your child. Contact the International Family Law Section:
If your child has been taken to Lebanon or Egypt, you can contact the Attorney-General's Department about applying for assistance under the Lebanese or Egyptian Cooperation Agreements on Protecting the Welfare of Children. Contact the International Family Law Section:
If your child has been taken to a country that is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, matters of custody will need to be determined by the courts in the country where the child is located. However, you can apply to the Attorney-General's Department for legal financial assistance to pursue your case in the other country.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade may also be able to assist in both Hague and non-Hague Convention countries by ascertaining the welfare of an abducted child and assisting the left behind parent when in-country to attend local court proceedings.
Lists of lawyers overseas are available from either the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1300 555 135 or the the Attorney-General's Department on 1800 100 480.
The following websites may also assist in finding a lawyer overseas;
Before you leave Australia with your children, you should ensure that you have the consent to do so from any person, institution or other body that has a right of custody in relation to those children or a court order permitting their departure.
Australian parenting orders will be recognised overseas and overseas parenting orders recognised in Australia where there is a reciprocal arrangement between Australia and the relevant country. For information about the countries that are party to such an arrangement, contact the Attorney-General's Department International Family Law and Children area.