ANYONE aged under 18 who is travelling abroad without their parents will need signed permission from them and have to present this at the airport – even if they are accompanied by another adult, according to a law which will come into effect across Spain tomorrow (Sunday, September 1).
It even affects 16- and 17-year-olds going on holiday alone or with a group of friends, and children travelling with grandparents, aunts or uncles.
As is always the case at any age when travelling abroad, even within the Schengen zone, children leaving the country without their parents need to have their documentation in order – DNI, or national identity card for Spanish citizens, or passport, and passport only for nationals of countries which do not issue ID cards.
The travel authority document must be acquired in person by one or more parents or legal guardians from the National Police or Guardia Civil station, town hall, court or notary.
Although only one parent is required to attend, he or she must have legal authority over the underage traveller – either custody of or an access arrangement – unless both are present, the other needs to give his or her permission.
It is not known how far this may cause difficulties for mothers who do not have contact with the father, where the father is a donor through a private arrangement, or for fathers, where the mother is a surrogate and not an active parent.
Some confusion is expected around foreign children living in Spain, given that initial details of the requirements state their parents need to seek their travel permit from their Consular authority rather than from the police, courts, notary or town hall.
Neither is it clear whether there will be a cost involved, and if so, how much.
The new law could also affect under-18s travelling to Spain from elsewhere either on their own, with groups of their peers, or with other adults, even relatives.
Airport governing body AENA, airlines, the Guardia Civil, interior ministry and other public bodies involved in any way in foreign travel and children’s affairs will be releasing further information on social media in the next few days.
Non-Spaniards living in Spain should seek further information from their Consulate or foreign office, via phone or email, or online.