The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention)
The Hague Abduction Convention is a written agreement between several countries, including the United States, to help return children who have been abducted and taken to another country.
How can this help me?
If your child has been abducted to a different country, the Hague Abduction Convention may be used to have your child returned home. The Hague Abduction Convention can only be used if your child is in a country that has signed the agreement.
Legal documents (often called custody orders) state who the legal and physical custodial parent is. Sometimes these custody orders are in a decree of divorce. Sometimes, if the parents never married, then there may not be any legal document about custody.
What can I do?
The Hague Abduction Convention allows parents to file an application to have their children returned home. The U.S. State Department provides information and resources for parents seeking to use the Hague Abduction Convention. The U.S. State Department can help in contacting foreign officials and attorneys. They can also forward Hague Abduction Convention applications to other countries and monitor the status of applications. They recommend that you talk with an attorney before filing a Hague Abduction Convention application.
Contacting the State Department
If you are in the U.S. or Canada, you can call the U.S. State Department at (888) 407-4747. If you are outside of the U.S. or Canada, you can call (202) 501-4444. Agents are available to answer questions from 8:15 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. The above numbers can be called 24/7 to report an abduction in progress.
The Passport Look-Out Database
The U.S. State Department created the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program. Parents can enroll in the Program to be notified if someone is attempting to receive a passport for their child. Instructions for enrolling in the Program can be found here.
Highlights About the Hague Convention:
- The Hague Abduction Convention only applies to countries that have signed the agreement.
- The United States signed the agreement in 1988. More than fifty (50) other countries have also signed it.
- Return of the child is to the member nation rather than specifically to the parent who filed the application.
- View the Child Abduction Section of the Hague Convention
- U.S. State Department Information on International Abduction
- List of Hague Abduction Convention Member Countries
Resource Date: August 2010, Updated April 2020