Legal expertise center
& cross-border mediation

FAQ

Center IKO

The International Child Abduction Center (Center IKO) is the legal expertise center in the field of (the prevention of) international child abduction. We provide free advice, guidance and information to parents and professionals. 

The legal advisors of the Center IKO specialize in the legal aspects of international child abductions. They provide advice and information about the legal possibilities a client has and help to find solutions for a client’s situation. They also offer guidance to parents.

Our legal advisors give advice by phone and e-mail. The legal advisor gives advice based on the information shared by the client. In order to give the most complete advice possible, it is our preference to discuss the situation over the phone. This way, the legal advisor can gather all the necessary information that is needed for an accurate advice.

We do not act as a legal representative or a lawyer. We can, however, assist you and, if necessary, refer you to a lawyer or mediator.

Central Authority

The Center IKO is the first point of contact for legal advice and information about (the prevention of) international child abduction. We can help you with filling in the forms or refer you to a specialized lawyer in the Netherlands or abroad. We can only point out the various options you have and the steps you can take and guide you in this. The Center IKO cannot take any action for you.

The Central Authority implements the Hague Child Abduction Convention. The Central Authority is responsible for handling, assessing and forwarding requests for return, requests for contact arrangements, requests for information and requests for action.

You have received a letter from the Central Authority. This may have shocked you and you probably want to know what to do next. This letter can include several things. You may be requested to voluntarily return your child to the country from which he/she was taken. Or you can receive a request to cooperate in establishing an international contact arrangement. Your child's other parent made the request. Usually this is legally based on the Hague Child Abduction Convention. The Center IKO can explain what to expect and what to do. We can also give you more information about the different procedures.

When you try to open a form of the Central Authority, you might get the message:

“Please wait… If this message is not eventually replaced by the proper contents of the document, your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document…” et cetera

If this is the case, you can open the form using the following instructions:

  1. Download the form and save the file on your computer;
  2. Download Adobe Reader if this software is not installed on your computer. You can download it for free through this link: http://get.adobe.com/reader/;
  3. Go to the downloaded file on your computer. Do not open the file directly;
  4. Open the file using a right click (the right mouse button);
  5. Choose ‘Open with’;
  6. Choose ‘Adobe Acrobat Reader DC’;
  7. The file will open.

Are you still not able to open the form with these instructions? Please contact the Central Authority.

International child abduction

According to the Hague Child Abduction Convention 1980, an international child abduction occurs when a child has been taken from his or her habitual residence to another country - or is retained in another country - without the permission of the other parent who has custody rights. The convention only applies to children until the age of 16 years. Under Dutch law, a parent has custody rights when he or she has the parental authority. This might be different in other countries.

Contact us for more information.

An international child abduction can be a criminal offense. It depends on the laws of the country from which or to where the child is taken. Under Dutch law, international child abduction is a criminal offense. It is referred to as a withdrawal from the parental authority (article 279 of the Dutch Penal Code).

Always contact us first, before you file a report with the police. Filing a report can have advantages and disadvantages. Please contact us first to be well informed about the possible consequences for your situation.

International contact

When one of the parents does not comply with the international contact arrangements, it can be difficult to enforce compliance with the agreements made. You can consider making (new) agreements together with the help of cross-border mediation. You can also start legal proceedings before the court in the country where your child lives. You can ask the judge to decide that the other parent needs to comply with the agreements. The judge can, for example, attach consequences to non-compliance with the agreements. A specialized lawyer can advise and assist you in this.

Relocation

Whether you need permission for a relocation to the Netherlands, depends on the rules of the country where your child is currently living. This does not depend on your or your child's nationality. 

Contact us for more information and advice in your situation.

Traveling with children from/to the Netherlands

A vacation falls within the scope of the parental authority that a parent exercises over the child. At the Dutch border control, they pay extra attention to children who are going abroad. Not every child that crosses a border, goes on a vacation. Once across the border, half of the abducted children do not return. The return of a child after an international child abduction often takes a long time and is complicated.

To prevent international child abduction, the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (RNLM) checks who has the parental authority and if the persons with parental authority gave their permission for traveling abroad. When the permission is not evident, the RNLM may ask additional questions. This happens many times a day and can cause delay. The RNLM even has the possibility of refusing someone to cross the border, if the permission cannot be proven.

Make sure you bring the necessary documents when you are traveling with your child. Find out which documents are needed in your situation here.

Yes, even if you are traveling with your children within Europe, permission is needed. 

Within the Schengen area, people are allowed to travel freely. The border control takes place at the external borders of the Schengen area. Although the chance of a check for the permission is small, permission for travel is still needed. The check takes place on a random basis.

Yes, permission is also needed when you are traveling with your children by car or train.

Permission for traveling abroad is required for children who are minors. Under Dutch law this is up to the age of 18. For children who have reached the age of 18, permission of their parents is no longer necessary. 

Does the other parent refuse to give permission for traveling abroad and are you unable to resolve this? As a parent, you can ask the court for replacement permission. Contact us for more information about this procedure. 

There is an obligation to provide information to the other parent about the residence details and the duration of the holiday.

No, it is not mandatory to bring the authorization form for traveling abroad with a minor. However, the permission itself is mandatory. How you demonstrate the permission is form-free in the Netherlands. The authorization form has been developed to easily demonstrate at the Dutch border control that the parent(s) gave permission. You can adjust the form to your situation. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (RNLM) is also familiar with this form. For a quick and smooth border crossing, the Center IKO therefore recommends using this form.

In some countries, such as South Africa, additional requirements apply for traveling with children. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are traveling to if there are additional requirements for traveling with children.

With the additional documents you can prove who the child's parents are and who the parental authority has. With this you can demonstrate that the persons who gave permission are indeed the child's parents with parental authority.

An (international) extract from the Personal Records Database (BRP) of the child with parental details can be requested at the municipality where the child is living.

An (international) birth certificate can be requested at the municipality (gemeente) where the child was born. 

An extract of the custody register (gezagsregister) can be requested for free at the district court. On the website of the 'Rechtspraak' you can find how to request the extract.

Documents proving that a parent has parental authority (gezag) should stay recent. Parental authority can still change, so it is important to prove the current situation. We recommend that these documents should not be older than 3 months. This means that the documents should not be older than 3 months.

Do you have an international extract of the Personal Records Database (Basisregistratie Personen - BRP) including details on the child's parents and the parental authority? Then you do not need to request a new extract at the municipality every time. You can use the old extract, if you also bring a recent extract of the custody register (gezagsregister). The custody register registers the decisions that have been made about the parental authority. With an extract of the custody register you can prove that nothing has changed since the date of the extract BRP. You can request an extract of the custody register at the district court for free.

Documents that only prove who the child's parents are (and that do not give information about the parental authority), can be requested once and used until the child turns 18. The child's parents usually do not change, so these documents remain valid for traveling with children.

When parents automatically have the parental authority, this is not recorded in the custody register (gezagsregister). Only when parents have applied for joint parental authority or when the court has ruled on the parental authority, is this recorded in the custody register. If this has not happened, the extract will state that your child does not occur in the custody register. With this statement you exclude that you have applied for joint parental authority or that the court has ruled on the parental authority.

The signature on the authorization form will be compared to the signature on the passport, ID-card or driver's license. With the copy, the signature on the authorization form can be checked for authenticity. 

Certain information on the copy may be removed, such as the Citizen Service Number. Only the name and signature on the copy must be clearly visible. 

A copy of the passport, ID-card or driver's license is used to check the signature on the authorization form for authenticity. Therefore, it is not needed that the passport, ID-card or driver's license is still valid. A copy of an expired document can also be added to the authorization form.

No, for the Dutch border control a stamp from the municipality (gemeente) is not necessary. A copy of the passport, ID-card or driver's license of the parent who gives permission, is sufficient to check the signature on the authorization form. 

In some countries, such as South Africa, additional requirements apply and a stamp is indeed mandatory. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are traveling to if there are additional requirements for traveling with children.