Contacting Law Enforcement

If your child is missing, an immediate report to law enforcement may keep your child from being abducted.

Steps you can take:

  • Contact your local police
  • File a missing person report
  • Request that your child's name be entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. Federal law requires law enforcement agencies to enter the child's information into NCIC. You can file a missing person report and request that law enforcement enter your child into NCIC even if you think your child is in another country.

Some law enforcement professionals may have limited experience with international parental child abduction cases. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) may be able to assist you at 1-800-843-5678. Also, inform law enforcement if you are working with the Office of Children’s Issues.  

Reporting your child as missing to law enforcement and requesting your child be entered into NCIC as missing does not automatically initiate criminal proceedings against the taking parent. Local and state law enforcement will generally require that you have a custody order before opening a criminal case or seeking a criminal warrant.

If your child has been abducted outside the United States, law enforcement's decision to pursue criminal charges may affect your efforts to return your child. You should consider consulting with an attorney to understand how criminal charges may affect your particular situation.

Keep a record of all the people you speak with, including law enforcement. Such records should include the names of people you speak to, dates and times of the conversations, and the information provided.

Law Enforcement Entities

Local Police

  • Typically receive the first report of an international parental child abduction
  • May seek criminal charges based on violation of a custody order and your state’s criminal parental kidnapping laws
  • May coordinate with the local prosecutor: Consider meeting with your local prosecutor to understand law enforcement’s considerations for moving forward.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Find Resources in Your State

  • Review contact information for your state's clearinghouse on missing children and airports.
  • Locate state statutes and legal aid resources in your state.

Last Updated: November 13, 2023