I've got a a 4-year-old who's in school, and is quite big for their age. I've just booked a train journey, paying only for myself and relying on the fact that under 5s travel free (though quite possibly without a seat).

Is there ever a need to prove that the child is under 5 when relying on the free ticket (and if so how)? I'd rather not have to carry their birth certificate as it's a valuable document that won't fit in my wallet and travelling by train with a small person (and all their stuff) isn't easy without another valuable item to worry about. On the other hand I don't want any awkwardness from an overzealous official. I haven't been able to find anything obvious on the train companies' websites.

  • Does the UK have compact birth certificate summaries? We have them in Canada, and they're as valid as the full-sized original. If so, get one of those. – Jim MacKenzie May 3 '18 at 14:40
  • @JimMacKenzie they're not exactly compact (they're known as "short form"). These days they're not all that common as they're not accepted in questions of nationality – Chris H May 3 '18 at 14:42
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    simply take a photo of the birth certificate with your smartphone. – Aganju May 3 '18 at 15:01
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    @JimMacKenzie Notarising a copy of a birth certificate is probably going to cost more than just buying a child ticket. It's also pointless. – MJeffryes May 3 '18 at 15:24
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    @MJeffryes is right, especially as that's not really done in the UK (getting a duplicate certificate is more common) – Chris H May 3 '18 at 15:32

Nothing in the rail national conditions of carriage about documentary proof either. It only specifies that they can't occupy a seat if it is needed by a ticket holder.

Anecdotally, I've had guards question the ages of children but not demand any documents.

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    An old method, which likely still works, is asking the children themselves and only question the parents when the child gives an age which is over the limit. – Willeke May 3 '18 at 16:53

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