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Preventing Child Abduction

If you fear that your child may be taken abroad without your consent, you should consider the following:

Do you have parental responsibility for your child or a court order relating to custody/residence, access/contact or guardianship (or are you in the process of applying for such an order)?  If so, you or your solicitor should think about taking the following steps:

  • Alert your local police station, first by telephone and then in person. You will be asked to give a statement.  Where threat of removal is real and imminent, the police will circulate the child’s name to all UK points of departure via the Police National Computer and the details will be entered on a regularly updated list. If there are any difficulties ask to speak to the senior officer in charge.

    A court order is not necessary for the police to act in England and Wales or in Northern Ireland.  They will only require a statement which gives evidence of your rights/responsibilities in relation to your child and of your objection to the removal of your child.

    However, if your child is aged 16 or 17 then in most cases a court order is needed.  The police will need to see a copy of the order, as will the Passport Agency for the procedure below.

  • Contact the Belfast regional office of the United Kingdom Passport Agency or the UKPS Advice Line (Tel: 08705 210 410) to request that passport facilities are not granted to your child. It may be necessary to provide the Agency with any court order, such as a custody/residence, prohibited steps or wardship order. Court orders are not necessary in the case of unmarried mothers wishing to lodge an objection.

    The United Kingdom Passport Agency cannot prevent someone obtaining a passport from their own Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in this country. If the child’s other parent is not a British national, you or your solicitor should consider writing a letter to the Embassy or Consulate of his/her country asking those officials not to issue a passport to your child.  They are not obliged to comply with your request, but may do so voluntarily.

  • Contact Reunite which is a UK charity offering advice, information and support to parents, guardians and family members affected by international parental child abduction. Reunite can provide you with a Child Abduction Prevention Pack (tel: 020 7375 3440).