Can you travel or relocate with your child to another country?

If you live with your child in Norway and are considering travelling or relocating to another country, it is important that you make sure you do so lawfully.

If you live with your child in Norway and are considering travelling or relocating to another country, it is important that you make sure you do so lawfully.

This applies not least if you are currently involved in a divorce or similar situation in which decisions are going to be made about parental responsibility for the child. You should therefore clarify whether you are permitted to travel abroad with your child, either on holiday or as a permanent change in your country of residence.

If you wish to take your child abroad you should be aware of the following:

When you have sole parental responsibility:

  • you are, in principle, entitled to relocate abroad without the consent of the other parent. If the other parent has an agreement or decision with respect to access, the parent wishing to relocate must notify them no later than six weeks before relocation takes place.
  • when parental responsibility or permanent custody is in dispute, the child may not be relocated abroad. It is not necessary for legal proceedings to have been initiated. It is, for example, normally enough that the parents have attended mediation.

when parents have shared parental responsibility:

  • both parents must agree if the child is to be relocated to another country.
  • each of the parents may take the child abroad for a short stay, without the consent of the other parent.
  • the court may issue an order prohibiting even a short stay abroad if it is uncertain whether the child will return. The police may issue an order temporarily prohibiting the child from leaving the country until the case has been settled in court.

when you have no parental responsibility:

  • you may not take the child out of the country without the consent of the person who has parental responsibility, even for a short stay abroad.
  • if you nevertheless wish to take the child abroad on holiday, you may attempt to get a court order granting you permission to do so.

NB! Some countries require that when only ONE of the parents is travelling with the child, they must have the written consent of the non-travelling parent. Problems may arise in connection with entry/exit if such permission is not obtained. If you are travelling to a country that operates such a policy you should contact that country's embassy well ahead of time to find out what is required (often a signed authorisation).

You wish to relocate with your child to another country
Even though ONE parent has sole parental responsibility, the child is entitled to access with both parents. Good contact with both parents is usually very positive for the child. It is important that the parent with whom the child lives permanently facilitates access with the other. It can have a significant impact on the implementation of access, and thus the child's contact with the parent still living in Norway, if the child relocates to another country. Before the child relocates to another country the parents should therefore agree new access arrangements which take into consideration the fact that the child now lives abroad. It will often be practical to arrange longer but less frequent visits, whose timing takes account of the school holidays in the new country of residence. It may also be wise to agree other forms of contact between the child and the other parent, eg by telephone or email. Read more about agreements under Agreement between the parents. Read more about parental responsibility under Parental responsibility and travelling abroad with children and in chapter 5, particularly sections 40 and 41 of the Children Act.

See also the Guide for Norwegian families relocating abroad with children (only in Norwegian), a brochure published by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion. The guide provides an overview of the rights of children and young people, and what help is available if problems arise during a stay abroad.

Unlawful child abduction
It may be deemed unlawful child abduction should you take the child abroad in contravention of the rules stated above. Child abduction is a criminal offence under Section 216 of Norway's General Civil Penal Code. You could therefore face criminal prosecution, and you and the child may be placed on an international wanted list. This means that you may not cross a national border without risk of arrest and deportation to Norway. You also run the risk of the other parent initiating legal proceedings against you on the grounds of child abduction and with respect to custody. Should you carry out an unlawful child abduction the court may give weight to this fact in any subsequent custody hearing. 

If the child is abducted to a country that has signed the Hague Convention, that country's authorities will normally be obligated to ensure the child's immediate repatriation to Norway. Read more about this under To/from a Contracting State - the Hague Convention. Under the Council of Europe Convention the country's authorities are obligated to recognise and enforce Norwegian decisions relating to parental responsibility. This may also result in the child being repatriated to Norway. Read more about this under To/from a Contracting State - the Council of Europe Convention. If you take the child to a country that has not signed these conventions, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs may provide the remaining parent with help to get the child returned to Norway. Read more about this under To/from a Non-Contracting State.