To/from a Contracting state - the Hague Convention

In connection with countries that have signed the Hague Convention on child abduction, assistance from the Norwegian authorities is provided through the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

In connection with countries that have signed the Hague Convention on child abduction, assistance from the Norwegian authorities is provided through the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

Child abduction is a criminal offence under Norwegian law, see Section 216 of Norway's General Civil Penal Code. Read more about this under Child abduction is a criminal offence.

Norway and a number of other countries have endorsed the Hague Convention. The convention seeks to prevent child abduction and resolve the issues that arise if a child is, nevertheless, abducted from one country to another.

The intention of the Hague Convention is to ensure the restoration of the child's actual situation before the abduction or retention. Children who are abducted from another country to Norway shall be repatriated to that country, so that any decisions regarding the child's future may be made there. A decision in a Hague case is not a decision with respect to custody, ie who shall have parental responsibility, where the child shall live and the extent of any future access arrangements. On the other hand, repatriation will in practice determine the country in which custody issues are decided. If the child is repatriated, custody issues will be decided in their country of habitual residence. If repatriation is refused, the receiving state (which will at that point be the child's new country of habitual residence) will handle the case.

All countries throughout the world are free to take part to the Hague Convention. It has enormous practical significance, and extensive international case law has been established. Read more about this at http://www.incadat.com/ and www.hcch.net.

When has an unlawful abduction taken place? 

Under the Hague Convention the following conditions must be met before an unlawful abduction is deemed to have taken place:

  • the left-behind parent must be entitled to parental responsibility for the child, and must actually have been exercising parental responsibility at the time of the abduction.
  • the child must have been resident in a country that has signed the Hague Convention, and it must be this country that requests the repatriation of the child (actual citizenship is of no significance).
  • the child must be under the age of 16.

If these conditions have been met, the child shall, in principle, immediately be returned to the country from which they were abducted.

Repatriation is not mandatory in any of the following circumstances:

  • parental responsibility was not being exercised at the time of the abduction, or the applicant has subsequently accepted the abduction in word or deed.
  • more than one year has passed between the abduction taking place and the application for repatriation being filed, and the child has settled into the new country of residence.
  • there is a serious risk that repatriation will cause physical or psychological damage to the child.
  • the child resists repatriation and has reached an age and level of maturity which make it natural to take the child's views into account.

The process step by step to a Contracting State.

If your child has been abducted to Norway from another Contracting State (Hague Convention), the central authorities in the child's country of habitual residence can help you to apply for their repatriation. The central authorities in the child's country of habitual residence send the application to Norway's Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security forwards the petition to the district court where the child is assumed to be staying.

If you do not know where in Norway your child is staying, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security will ask the police to help find the child.

It may be expeditious to file a missing-child report with the police in the child's country of habitual residence, irrespective of whether you know where in Norway the child is or not. The police in Norway will then be able to intervene in the case if necessary at a later date.

The District Court will decide whether the child shall be repatriated. Read more about this under Norwegian court proceedings.

You are not required to be represented by an attorney in connection with the court's hearing of the case in Norway. Read more about this under Legal assistance.

The application

When applying for a child's repatriation you must complete an application form and sign a statement of authorisation. The application and statement of authorisation are included in a single document. The form sent must be the original signed and dated document.

Application form in Norwegian (doc) (pdf)
Application form in English (doc) (pdf)

The following documents should be enclosed with the application:

  • an account of the actual circumstances of the abduction/retention
  • documentation of the child's habitual residence, eg printout of the school register, National Population Register, etc
  • documentation proving parental responsibility, eg marriage certificate, birth certificate, printout from the National Population Register, court order, custody/access agreement
  • photographs of the child and the abductor
  • passport copies

The application for repatriation may be written in Norwegian or English, or be accompanied by a Norwegian translation. The same translation requirements apply to the enclosures.

The process step by step from a Contracting State

If your child has been abducted to Norway from another Contracting State (Hague Convention), the central authorities in the child's country of habitual residence can help you to apply for their repatriation. The central authorities in the child's country of habitual residence send the application to Norway's Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The Ministry of Justice and Public Security forwards the petition to the district court where the child is assumed to be staying.

If you do not know where in Norway your child is staying, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security will ask the police to help find the child.

It may be expeditious to file a missing-child report with the police in the child's country of habitual residence, irrespective of whether you know where in Norway the child is or not. The police in Norway will then be able to intervene in the case if necessary at a later date.

The District Court will decide whether the child shall be repatriated. Read more about this under Norwegian court proceedings.

You are not required to be represented by an attorney in connection with the court's hearing of the case in Norway. Read more about this under Legal assistance.

Further information on the Hague Convention can be found on the Hague Conference's website.