Travel.State.Gov > International Parental Child Abduction > Country Information > Iceland International Parental Child Abduction Information
Iceland 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 December 1, 1996.
For information concerning travel to Iceland, 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 Iceland.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Child Abduction. 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 Iceland. 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 Icelandic Central Authority (ICA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). The ICA will review the Hague application and supporting documents before submitting the Hague petition to an Icelandic court. The ICA can be reached at:
Iceland’s Central Authority, the Ministry of Justice.
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Iceland, the USCA encourages a parent or legal 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 ICA. The ICA does not require applicants to translate their application into Icelandic. If the ICA accepts the Hague application, the ICA will forward the petition to the District Court. The parties and/or their attorneys must appear before a District Court judge to formally register the Hague request in the Icelandic legal system. The judge will schedule a hearing date if he or she accepts the case. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ICA, 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 the Icelandic central authorities. U.S. citizens may apply for legal aid through the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry will decide if the person qualifies for legal aid. 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, Iceland. 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 Iceland. 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.
Parents or legal guardians are not required to retain a private attorney in order to file a Hague Abduction Convention application with the ICA, but they are required to hire an attorney at their own expense once the petition is sent to a court. A parent who hires private counsel should notify both the Icelandic and U.S. central authorities. In addition, there are some organizations in Iceland that offer free or reduced cost legal services:
● Law Students University of Iceland (Note: these are law students who cannot represent you in court, although they are willing to offer free legal advice).
● Law Students at University of Reykjavik (Note: these are law students who cannot represent you in court, although they are willing to offer free legal advice.)
The U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland, posts a list of attorneys licensed to practice law in Iceland, including those that specialize in family law.
The list of organizations offering free or reduced cost legal services in Iceland as well as the list of attorneys provided by the U.S. Embassy is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney or organization. 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 or organizations.
The Icelandic government is supportive of mediation programs to resolve international parental child abduction cases. If mediation is successful, the District Commissioner’s office will sign and witness the final agreement. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the case returns to court.
Mediation services are always carried out through the District Commissioner’s office in the district where the child resides. A lawyer and social worker generally preside over the mediation process and offer counseling and advice to parents. There are no costs for this service.
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.