My sons (both under 18) hold French passports while I am British. In the years before Brexit they would spend a week each summer with their British grandparents in the UK, while their parents would return to France to work. Their grandparents would then bring them back home to France at the end of their stay in the UK.

Is this kind of arrangement possible in a post-Brexit world? Is there any special documentation that needs to be completed on either side of the channel in such a situation? Is a visa now required? Are we even able to 'abandon' our children in this way?

Getting them British passports is on my to-do list - would it make things easier?

  • What's the issue? Do you assume the grandparemts will be question where the parents are? Can the boys travel alone? Jan 17, 2022 at 20:04
  • Your sons' entry into the UK will be easier if they use UK passports. Jan 17, 2022 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


You can break this down into different questions:

  • Are children under 18 holding French passports allowed to visit the UK for a week without a visa for leisure purposes?

Yes - there's nothing special about them being under 18 and the standard post-Brexit rules apply: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-as-an-eu-eea-or-swiss-citizen

Getting them a UK passport might be useful anyway, and it'll make entering the UK a tiny bit easier, but is not at all necessary.

  • Will you be in trouble for leaving the UK without your children?

In the unlikely event that anyone even knows you did it, there's no law in either the UK or France that stops you leaving them appropriately looked after by someone else. Brexit has also made no difference to this situation.

  • Can they travel with their grandparents?

It's actually quite unlikely that they would be challenged, particularly if they "look" like they are grandparents travelling with their grandchildren, but you could write a letter to confirm they have permission if you're concerned, as described in this leaflet which was linked from another answer. This also hasn't changed with Brexit as the UK was never in Schengen, though maybe the border formalities will be observed more closely now making it more likely that someone would ask questions.


From https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-travelling-to-the-uk:

Every day thousands of children arrive at the UK border, many return from holiday with their family or with family friends. The safety and welfare of every child is of utmost importance to us and sometimes we may ask a few questions if an adult is not the child’s parent, or has a different family name.

This guidance leaflet explains why we stop and ask questions at the border and our duty under the Borders Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to safeguard travel and promote the welfare of children. It also describes how people can plan ahead when travelling with children and documentation we may ask for, such as adoption papers or proof of travel consent.

  • 10
    This doesn't really answer the question either. It expresses a platitude about concern for children and then links to an off-site resource. It doesn't answer any of OP's actual questions.
    – J...
    Jan 17, 2022 at 19:56

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