International Parental Child Abduction

English

Country Information

Belgium

Belgium
Kingdom of Belgium
Exercise increased caution in Belgium due to terrorism.

Exercise increased caution in Belgium due to terrorism.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Belgium. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Belgium:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Belgium.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Hague Convention Participation

Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes

What You Can Do

Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Brussels

27 Boulevard du Régent (the Consular Section is at 25 Boulevard du Régent)
B-1000 Brussels
Belgium
Telephone: 
+(32) (2) 811-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(32) (0) 2-811-4000
Fax: +(32) (2) 811-4546

General Information

Belgium 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 May 1, 1999.

For information concerning travel to Belgium, 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 Belgium.

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.

Hague Abduction Convention

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 Belgium.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website: travel.state.gov

The Belgian Central Authority (BCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Service Public Fédéral Justice.  The BCA has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications.  The BCA forwards completed Hague applications to the appropriate Public Prosecutor in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides.  The Public Prosecutor brings the case on behalf of Belgium.  The BCA can be reached at:

The BCA can be reached at:

Belgium Central Authority
Service Public Fédéral Justice
Direction general de la Législation et des Libertés et Droits fondamentaux
Service de cooperation international civile
Autorité centrale d’Entraide judiciaire internationale en matiére civile
Boulevard de Waterloo 115
B-1000 Bruxelles
Tel.:  +32 (2) 542 67 00
Fax:  +32 (2) 542 70 06
e-mail: rapt-parental@just.fgov.be/ kinderontvoering@just.fgov.be

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Belgium, the USCA encourages parents to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the BCA.  All documents written in English must be translated into either Dutch or French, depending on the area where the child is located in Belgium.  The USCA can help you determine the correct language for translation.  Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary.  Any competent person or organization may translate the documents.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the BCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Belgian Central Authorities.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

Return

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, Belgium.  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.

Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Belgium.  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 country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Retaining an Attorney

Retaining a private attorney is not required in order to submit a Hague Abduction Convention application to a court in Belgium.  The BCA assigns a Public Prosecutor to present a Hague case before the appropriate court.  However, the Public Prosecutor does not represent the left-behind parent or legal guardian who submitted the application; instead, the Public Prosecutor represents Belgium and submits the request for return on behalf of the BCA.  The Public Prosecutor will not have direct contact with the left-behind parent or legal guardian. 

Parents or legal guardians have the option to hire a private attorney to represent them.   However, all attorney fees will be the applicant’s responsibility.  The BCA will withdraw from the Hague case if an applicant hires a private attorney, but they will continue to provide information on the Hague Abduction Convention, if requested, and will monitor the progress of the case, if they are aware of it.

The U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

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.

Mediation

Mediation may be available for both abduction and access cases.  The BCA does not provide mediation services directly; however, the BCA provides referrals to private and non-governmental organizations that offer mediation services.  Mediation is voluntary.

Exercising Custody Rights

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:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

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. 

 

Last Updated: June 1, 2015

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Brussels
27 Boulevard du Régent (the Consular Section is at 25 Boulevard du Régent)
B-1000 Brussels
Belgium
Telephone
+(32) (2) 811-4000
Emergency
+(32) (0) 2-811-4000
Fax
+(32) (2) 811-4546

Belgium Map