The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.
The Hague Convention also deals with issues of international child access. When a parent or guardian lives in a different country to the home country of their child, it may be hard to work out access to them.
The Australian Central Authority in the Attorney-General's Department is responsible for administering the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The convention is a multilateral treaty in force between Australia and a number of other countries. It provides a lawful procedure for seeking the return of abducted children to their home country. It also provides assistance to parents to obtain contact or access to children overseas.
You can contact the Australian Central Authority if you have any general questions about the Hague Convention, the process for making an application to have a child returned to Australia, access application or court order registration application. Please note we cannot provide specific legal advice in relation to your situation. Visit the international parental child abduction page for information on how to make a Hague Convention application, and a copy of the application form.
Hague Convention countries
An application under the Hague Convention for the return of a child can only be made to or from a country that has signed the convention, and which Australia has recognised.
We can only help you with a Hague return or access application if your child is in a Hague Convention country, and if the Hague Convention is in force between Australia and that country.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is in force between Australia and the countries listed below:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Hong Kong (China)
- Macau (China)
- Moldova, Republic of
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea (from 1 June 2015)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- San Marino
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
The below countries have acceded to the Hague Convention, but it is not yet in force between these countries and Australia:
- Seychelles—acceded in May 2008
- Morocco—acceded in March 2010
- Gabon—acceded in December 2010
- Andorra—acceded in April 2011
- Russia—acceded in July 2011
- Guinea—acceded in November 2011
- Lesotho—acceded in June 2012
- Kazakhstan—acceded in June 2013
- Iraq—acceded in March 2014
- Zambia—acceded in August 2014
If your child has been abducted to one of these countries, you cannot seek a return to Australia under the Hague Convention.
For more information on the Hague Convention, including a status table for each signatory country and the most up-to-date country information, visit the Hague Conference on Private International Law website.
Australia also has bilateral agreements on child welfare with Egypt and Lebanon—the Australia-Egypt Agreement and the Australia-Lebanon Agreement.
If your child is in another country, you may want to seek private legal advice in that country about your options. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) may be able to assist left behind parents in accessing an in English speaking lawyer in a non-Hague country.
Call: 1300 555 135 (24-hour consular service), or visit the support and assistance page for more resources.