Travel.State.Gov > International Parental Child Abduction > Country Information > Finland International Parental Child Abduction Information
Finland 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 August 1, 1994.
For information concerning travel to Finland, 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 Finland.
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 Citizen 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 Finland. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's Issues
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Finnish Central Authority (FCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). The MOJ reviews Hague applications to ensure they are adequately completed. The FCA will confirm receipt of an application with a faxed letter to the USCA and, if necessary, request any additional information or documentation. Once the application is deemed complete, the FCA will forward the application to the applicant's Finnish attorney or directly to the appropriate court. If appropriate, the attorney will contact the taking-parent to inform him or her of the pending Hague return application and ask if he or she would agree to return the child voluntarily.
The FCA can be reached at:
Ministry of Justice
Unit for International Judicial Administration
PO Box 25
Telephone: +358 (9) 1606 7628
Fax: +358 (9) 1606 7524
Website: Ministry of Justice
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Finland, the USCA encourages a parent or guardian 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 FCA. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the FCA, 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 Finnish central authorities.
In Hague proceedings concerning the return of a child, the applicant can request the taking-parent pay the travel and other expenses for the return of the child.
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, Finland. 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 Finland. The FCA does not bring access cases to court on behalf of applicants. Instead, it will transmit the request to Finnish social welfare authorities who work with both parents to reach a mediated access settlement. The services of the social welfare authorities are free of charge. If a settlement is not possible, the applicant is provided information about legal aid in Finland and the Finnish Bar Association to initiate court proceedings.
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.
If the applicant parent decides not to explore a voluntary return, or if such attempts do not succeed, the FCA will forward the application to an advocate specialized in child abduction cases, or the applicant parent may retain a Finnish attorney to represent him or her in bringing the return order to court. Applicants are responsible for all legal fees for privately retained attorneys, though they can apply for legal aid through their attorney. Applicants who elect to utilize the FCA appointed legal counsel receive free legal aid to bring their application, though they may be subject to bear the cost of the other party’s legal fees if the return order is denied.
The U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland, has a link on its website for the Finnish Bar Association's list of attorneys, some of whom 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 following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
The FCA does not offer mediation services in international parental child abduction cases. Typically, the local Finnish Social Office provides mediation services in child custody cases. Parents interested in mediation should submit their request for mediation to their Finnish attorney.
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.