Substitute consent

Substitute consent for passports and holidays abroad

Children of all ages need their own passport or European identity card (ID card) when traveling abroad.

In most cases a passport or ID card can be obtained through a simple request at the counter of the civil affairs department of the municipality.

To apply for an ID card the consent of the parents is no longer required if the minor has reached the age of 12 years. Please keep in mind that this ID card is only valid to travel to a limited amount of European countries.

To apply for a passport for a minor (and for an ID card for children under the age of 12 years), the consent of any person who exercises parental responsibility (custody) is required. These are usually the parents of the minor.  Both parents must be present when applying for a passport or the parental consent must be apparent from the completed and signed document “consent statement” (‘verklaring toestemming’). Generally this document can be downloaded from the website of your municipality. Please check the website of your municipality for the requirements.

Also, the parents should be able to identify themselves at the counter or their original passport must be shown to apply for a passport. Without the required consent the application does not suffice and the passport will not be issued.

After a divorce parents often keep joint parental responsibility of their children. In that case the consent of both parents is required before applying for a passport.

But what if one parent refuses consent? Especially shortly before the other parent is planning a holiday with the childeren. What then? Is there anything to do?

Substitute consent

In these situations the court can be petitioned to replace the consent of the refusing parent by a court order. Such a request can be made by the other parent who exercizes parental responsibility, or by a minor who has reached the age of sixteen.

Before ruling the court must ascertain whether it is possible that the parents will yet come to an agreement. A court hearing is usually determined, to give the parents the opportunity to voice their point of view and further explain them.

The court will then rule what seems desirable in the best interests of the child. If the subsequent consent is granted by the court, the passport can be applied for at the counter of the civil affairs department of the municipality with the original ruling of the court.


Please keep in mind that the consent of the other parent is not only needed to obtain a passport or ID card, but also to travel abroad. Taking the children out of the country – without the needed consent – can be considered as international child abduction.

If the other parent refuses consent without good reason, then also proceedings can be initiated to replace the consent of the refusing parent by a court order.

Please be advised that proceedings in court take can take quite some time. In urgent cases injunction proceedings are possible. Also in that case you should bear in mind that proceedings may take several weeks.

Therefore take timely action!

Do not wait until the eve of your holiday before obtaining the consent of the other parent or in case of refusal, consulting a lawyer.

We represent parents in both situations and are able to advise and provide experienced representation. Please feel free to contact one of our lawyers to discuss your situation or make an appointment. We are happy to advise you.