File a Hague Application

Discuss your options with your country officer

Deciding whether to file a Hague application is an important decision and must be considered based on each case’s specific circumstances.  Discuss with the country officer assigned to your child’s case what is needed to file a Hague application and what other options are available.  Please note that the country officer cannot provide you with legal advice.  You are encouraged to speak to an attorney about your Hague application and other issues before taking any action on your child’s case. 

NOTE: Submit a Hague application as soon as possible after an abduction or wrongful retention has taken place.  If more than one year passes before you file a Hague application, it may be more difficult to have your child returned under the Hague Abduction Convention.  You do not need to have a custody order to file a Hague application and you should not wait for a custody order before filing.  Any delays in filing could affect the outcome of the case.

Find out if the Hague Abduction Convention is an option for your child's case by contacting a country officer.

 

Are You Eligible to File a Hague Application?

What country was your child taken to?
Is your child under 16 years old?

Are You Eligible to File a Hague Application?

Current Selection(s)

  • Country:

  • Child under 16?

You may be able to file because is a Hague Convention partner with the United States and your child is under 16 years old. To determine whether the U.S. Central Authority will accept your application, please contact your country officer to discuss your case.

The U.S. Central Authority will not accept a Hague application. While is a Hague Convention partner, your child is over 16 years old. Please contact the country officer assigned to your child's case to discuss available options.

The U.S. Central Authority will not accept a Hague application because is not a Hague Convention partner with the United States. Please contact a country officer to discuss options that may be available in your case. It is also always best to discuss your case with an attorney prior to taking any actions.

Contact your country officer to discuss whether the U.S. Central Authority will accept a Hague application in your child's case, and what other options may be available. Additionally, since your country officer cannot provide legal advice, you are strongly encouraged to consult an attorney before taking any actions on your child's case.

1-888-407-4747 from the U.S. & Canada
1-202-501-4444 from abroad

Hablamos español. Llamenos para obtener ayuda.

Note: To file a Hague application, you must:

  • Have had custodial rights and been exercising those rights at the time of the abduction or wrongful retention, or show that you would have been exercising those rights if the abduction or retention had not occurred. Custody rights may be awarded by court order or arise by operation of law (of the place where the child lived prior to the abduction);
  • Have not given permission for the child to be removed or, in the case of wrongful retention, to be retained beyond a specified, agreed-upon period of time;
  • Be able to show that your child was "habitually resident" in the country to which you request the child be returned.

Explore Your Legal Options

If filing a Hague application is not available to you, other actions you may consider, in consultation with an attorney, include:

  • Reaching an agreement with the other parent
  • Mediation
  • Using a foreign country's judicial system
  • Filing a criminal complaint

Contact a country officer to discuss options that may be available to you in your child's case. You should also speak with an attorney prior to taking any actions on your child's case.

1-888-407-4747 from the U.S. & Canada
1-202-501-4444 from abroad

Hablamos español. Llamenos para obtener ayuda.

Locate Your Form

The Hague application form is available in English and Spanish. You can either print a blank form to fill out by hand or fill it out online and then print it.

  • Submit TWO completed applications for EACH child. One copy may be a photocopy.
  • Type or print all information in black or blue ink.
  • Please check the box indicating whether you are seeking the return of your child or access to your child (court-ordered visitation).
  • Provide as much information as possible, using an additional sheet of paper if you need more space.
  • Translation of the supporting documents into the official language of the receiving country may be necessary and can speed up the process, even when they are not required.

View additional guidance on how to complete the application form

Download Hague Application in ENGLISH

Descargar la aplicación de la Haya en ESPAÑOL

Collect Supporting Documentation

Along with your application form, you'll need to submit supporting documentation. Check with your country officer for any additional or specific requirements, which vary by country.

  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable). May need to be certified copy.
  • Birth Certificate for EACH child. May need to be certified copy.
  • Divorce Decree (if applicable). May need to be certified copy.
  • Evidence of Custodial Right (For example: a custody order, a copy of state statute, an affidavit of law regarding presumption of custody order under state law, or an Article 15 determination by a court or relevant administrative authority).
  • Other relevant court documents.
  • Photographs of taking parent and child. (Please note that these will not be returned).
  • Statement regarding the circumstances of removal or detention.
  • Other documents specifically required by receiving country (This may include but is not limited to: an Article 28 statement or Power of Attorney to foreign Central Authority).
  • Translations of the above documents into the language of the receiving country (if applicable).
  • Application for legal assistance (if applicable).

Submit Application

Before submitting your application, we recommend you consult with an attorney to confirm that your application is complete.

Contact a country officer:

1-888-407-4747 from the U.S. & Canada
1-202-501-4444 from abroad

Hablamos español. Llamenos para obtener ayuda.

Submit your completed application to the U.S. Central Authority using a service with mail tracking options to:

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

If you have access to email, please scan and email your application to your country officer.

Note: Be sure to sign and date your application form.

The country officer assigned to your child's case will review your application to ensure that it is complete before forwarding it to the foreign Central Authority.

Next Steps

Stay in frequent contact with the country officer responsible for cases involving the country where your child is located and let our office know if your contact information changes so that we may reach you as your application is processed.

Contact us if your contact information changes.

Once the U.S. Central Authority receives your Hague application and determines that it is complete and meets the requirements for acceptance, it will be transmitted to the foreign Central Authority. That foreign Central Authority is responsible for processing your application. Operations and procedures vary by country. Your country officer, who is experienced with the procedures in the country where your child is located, is available to help you understand the process and will provide updates to you as your child's case progresses through the foreign legal system. However, keep in mind that a country officer cannot provide you with legal advice. It is best to speak with an attorney before taking any action on your child's case.

When a taking parent learns that a Hague application has been or will be filed, he or she may return the child voluntarily to avoid further civil action under the Convention. The taking parent may also be open to mediation. Many Hague cases do go to trial. Some countries may require that you retain an attorney in the country where your child is located. In other countries, the foreign Central Authority is responsible for filing the case in court and may not be able to do so if you retain a private attorney in that country. However, if the foreign Central Authority files the case in court, it may only represent the Hague application, and therefore the foreign Central Authority may not represent your interests. For country-specific details on retaining an attorney and the role of the Central Authority, please contact the country officer assigned to your child's case. Please note that country officers and U.S. Government officials, including Embassy employees, are not able to act as an agent or attorney in legal proceedings.

If the taking parent does not voluntarily agree to return your child, you may want to attend a legal proceeding in the foreign court about your application for return. For this reason, it is a good idea to make sure that you have a valid passport and visa (if necessary) during this process so that you are able to quickly travel to the foreign country if it becomes necessary.

Learn how to retain a foreign attorney

Find an attorney abroad familiar with abduction cases