When I travelled to Denmark ten days ago with Amaia, Anna and Léon, nobody asked us any questions (Amaia, Anna and I were using our Danish passports and Léon his British one).
However, when we returned last Wednesday, Léon and I were interviewed for a couple of minutes by the border police in Stansted (our relationship, his date of birth, and who I was). They also told me it would have helped if I had brought his birth certificate.
It’s great they’re trying to do something about child abductions, but wouldn’t it be more appropriate to ask the questions when you leave the country where the child is a citizen rather than when you bring them back?
I also fail to understand what difference a birth certificate would have made. If it had been combined with our marriage certificate, I guess it would have shown a link between us, but surely unmarried stepdads and grandparents and the like are allowed to take kids on holiday, too?
The border police need to state clearly which documents they want to see to allow for smooth passage if the passports aren’t enough any more. Otherwise it becomes completely unpredictable whether you’ll be allowed to travel or not, which isn’t very satisfactory.
And the can of worms is even bigger. Given my name is just as unrelated to his, I could presumably have been asked the same bringing him back! And of course, his father, who has no custody of him legally would not be asked as they do share a surname… I’m not sure how his birth certificate would have helped anyway. Presumably if you and I fell out and you wanted to abduct your stepchild from me, you could easily have his birth certificate, and know his date of birth. Meaningless questions to make people think safety measures are in place, when they aren’t…
Also, I presume his birth certificate shows his mother to be a certain Phyllis Gautier…?
Thomas, traveling alone with children in the US & Canada (and between) can be a tricky affair as well – just ask Zhenya. We try to have paperwork with us just in case.
However, the most hilarious case was entering Canada by car, all five of us. Giving the officer at the border our stack of Danish passports, she looks at them, and then asks Zhenya and me: “Are these your children?” Boy, was I tempted to come up with a snappy remark!
Border officials like to annoy. Once I went to Glasgow via the hell hole that is LAX, and Toronto. You can’t just ‘transition’ at LAX. You have to go through U.S. Customs. I was a bit unshaven and scruffy after crossing the Pacific. I was travelling to the UK on HCP business so I’d marked ‘business’ as ‘reason for travel’. The official demanded to see my laptop. No laptop. “Who travels for business without a laptop?” he asked. He stared at me for a long time and then stamped my passport and waved me through. You actually have no civil or human rights airside, I do believe …
Høh. Den kender jeg godt. Over årene er jeg blevet udspurgt nogle gange om Sebastian ved indrejser i Stansted – og de lukker mig altid ind, når de skimmer hans birth certificate, og ser bynavnet York. North Yorkshire er åbenbart det, der med en eller anden sær logik frifinder mig fra at være kidnapper. I den anden ende ved udrejse checker de aldrig – der er de kun fikseret på, om man har jern i skosnuderne eller en pincet i tasken…