Austria and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since October 1, 1988.
For information concerning travel to Austria, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Austria.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Austria. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Austrian Central Authority (ACA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Bundesministerium fur Justiz, located in the Federal Ministry of Justice. The ACA has an administrative role in processing Hague applications. The Federal Ministry of Justice forwards completed Hague petitions to the appropriate Austrian court. A single judge in the local court (Bezirksgericht) holds a hearing and makes the initial Hague decision. The appeal of the first instance may be made to a panel of judges in the Regional court (Landesgericht). The second and final appeal maybe made to a panel of judges in the Supreme Court.
The Austria Central Authority can be reached at:
Austria Central Authority
Bundesministerium fur Justiz
Abteilung I 10
Telephone: +43 (1) 52152 2147 / Fax: +43 (1) 525152 2829
Website: Austrian Central Authority.
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Austria, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at a the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the ACA. It is extremely important that each document written in English be translated into German in order to be accepted by an Austrian court. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to ACA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Austria central authorities. The Austrian courts will appoint an attorney to represent the applicant, and the Austrian government covers the legal expenses when filing a Hague petition in Austria. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Austria. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Austria. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand Austria-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
The U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law. A parent or guardian who hires private counsel should notify both the Austrian and the U.S. central authorities.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
The Austrian federal government is extremely supportive of mediation programs to resolve international parental child abduction cases. While courts cannot order cases into mediation, judges can and do strongly encourage mediated resolutions and can stay hearings to permit parties the time to mediate.
The Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice offers a list of officially recognized mediation organizations (in German). Fees are normally based on hourly rates, but a sliding scale or negotiated rate is sometimes available. The process involves two mediators: one with training in a psycho-social field (such as a social worker or therapist) and the other with legal training (such as an attorney or a judge). All recognized mediators have completed specialized training in addition to their professional qualifications.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.