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International Parental Child Abduction

English

Country Information

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for the PRC and Hong Kong due to COVID-19.

The PRC has resumed most business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within the PRC. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the PRC.

Effective March 28, 2020, the PRC suspended entry into mainland China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits. On August 10, 2020, this ban was modified to allow entry of some nationals, not including the United States. Most commercial air carriers have reduced routes to and from mainland China.

The Hong Kong SAR has resumed most transportation and business operations. Other improved conditions have been reported within Hong Kong. Visit the Consulate General's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Hong Kong. 

Please monitor the Hong Kong government’s website for further updates on COVID-19.

Country Summary:

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans: 

  • to compel individuals to participate in PRC government investigations,
  • to pressure family members to return to the PRC from abroad,
  • to influence PRC authorities to resolve civil disputes in favor of PRC citizens, and
  • to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC or Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.

Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government.

The PRC government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-PRC citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the PRC government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.

XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION and TIBET AUTONOMOUS REGION

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uyghur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

Since the imposition of national security legislation on July 1, the PRC unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power in Hong Kong. The PRC has demonstrated an intention to use this authority to target a broad range of activities it defines as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and “collusion” with foreign countries. The new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, which could subject U.S. citizens who have been publicly critical of the PRC to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution. PRC security forces, including the new Office for Safeguarding National Security, now operate in Hong Kong.

Demonstrations: Participating in demonstrations or any other activities that authorities interpret as constituting an act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign country could result in criminal charges. On July 1, 2020, as part of its color-coded system of warning flags, the Hong Kong police unveiled a new purple flag, which warns protesters that shouting slogans or carrying banners with an intent prohibited by the law could now bring criminal charges.

U.S. citizens are strongly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and avoid demonstrations.

Propaganda: A PRC propaganda campaign has falsely accused individuals of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong. In some cases, the campaign, has published their personal information, resulting in threats of violence on social media.

Read the country information page for the PRC and for Hong Kong.

If you decide to travel to Hong Kong:

  • Monitor local media, local transportations sites and apps like MTR Mobile or CitybusNWFB, and the Hong Kong International Airport website for updates.
  • Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
  • Exercise caution if you are in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Avoid taking photographs of protesters or police without permission.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Review your flight status with your airline or at the Hong Kong International Airport website.
  • Follow U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong on Facebook and Twitter.
  • 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 Hong Kong.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates on COVID-19 and China’s implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong.

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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. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau

26 Garden Road, Central,
Hong Kong

Telephone: +(852) 2841-2211, +(852) 2841-2225, +(852) 2841-2323
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(852) 2523-9011
Fax: +(852) 2845-4845
Email: 

General Information

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) has applied between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the United States since September 1, 1997.

For information concerning travel to Hong Kong, including information about the location of the U.S. Consulate General, 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 Hong Kong.

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, including applications concerning the Hong Kong SAR.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority (FCA).

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-736-9132
Website  

The Hong Kong SAR Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Secretary for Justice, International Law Division.  The Hong Kong Central Authority reviews all incoming applications, files applications with the court, monitors the case from beginning to end, updates the requesting Central Authority on the progress of the case, and provides other assistance as appropriate, including involving law enforcement or social workers. The Central Authority does not represent a parent in the court proceedings.

The Hong Kong Central Authority can be reached at:

Central Authority of Hong Kong
(The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction)
c/o International Law Division
(Mutual Legal Assistance Unit)
Department of Justice
47/F, High Block
Queensway Government Offices
66 Queensway, Hong Kong

Telephone Number: (852) 2867 2062
Fax Number: (852)2523 7959 or (852) 2877 9585
Email: childabduct@doj.gov.hk

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Hong Kong, the left-behind parent or the Central Authority of the left-behind parent’s country must submit a Hague application to the Hong Kong Central Authority.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the Hong Kong Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are not fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Hong Kong central authorities.  Attorney fees in Hong Kong can vary depending upon an attorney’s experience and reputation.  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 Hong Kong.  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 Hong Kong.  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 to submit Hague Convention applications to the Hong Kong Central Authority.  However, parents may wish to hire a private attorney to follow up on the case, to provide direct information to the court, and to advise as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances.  A parent may be able to retain a private attorney through legal aid if the parent satisfies the merit and means tests set by the Legal Aid Department.  If a parent wishes to apply for legal aid, the Hong Kong Central Authority will provide that parent direct contact information for legal aid.  Parents may represent themselves if they choose not to have a private attorney.

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law at.

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

The Hong Kong Central Authority strongly recommends that parents reach an amicable settlement for the voluntary return of the child through mediation.  Mediation services are available through the Social Welfare Department or via accrediting bodies such as the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society, Integrated Family Services Centre, and International Social Services (Hong Kong Branch).

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. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau
26 Garden Road, Central,
Hong Kong
Telephone
+(852) 2841-2211, +(852) 2841-2225, +(852) 2841-2323
Emergency
+(852) 2523-9011
Fax
+(852) 2845-4845

Hong Kong Map