Malta 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 February 1, 2003.
For information concerning travel to Malta, 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 Malta.
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 Malta. 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
SA-17, 9th Floor
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Maltese Central Authority (MCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Department for Social Welfare Standards. The MCA has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. The MCA forwards completed Hague applications to the appropriate Maltese Family Court in the jurisdiction where the child resides.
The MCA can be reached at:
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Malta, 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 MCA. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the MCA, and to monitor its subsequent progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Maltese central authorities. Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. 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, Malta. 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 parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Malta. 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 Family Court in Malta. The MCA assigns a public prosecutor to present the case in the Maltese Court. Parents or legal guardians have the option to hire a private attorney at their own expense in Malta to join the state-appointed attorney in presenting the Hague Abduction Convention case. A privately hired attorney should contact the MCA as soon as possible after the MCA receives the Hague Abduction Convention application.
The U.S. Embassy in Valletta, Malta, posts a list of attorneysincluding 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.
The USCA is not aware of any government or private organizations in Malta that offer mediation services in either abduction or access cases.
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.