International Child Abduction &
Contact Unit (ICACU)
ICACU GUIDE TO MAKING AN APPLICATION
Please read this guide carefully before completing the ‘Central Authority for England and Wales
You will need to complete the form if you are applying for either:
1. the return of a child who has been abducted overseas under the 1980 Hague Convention (Revised
Brussels II Regulation in EU Countries only)
2. contact with a child overseas under the 1980 Hague Convention
3. the registration and enforcement of an order overseas under either the Revised Brussels II Regulation or
the 1980 European Convention (please note the ICACU can only deal with registration and enforcement
applications to other European Countries and European Union Member States)
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) is the Central Authority in England and Wales for the
operation of the 1980 Hague Convention, the Revised Brussels II Regulation and the 1980 European Convention.
The 1980 Hague Convention
The 1980 Hague Convention operates between the UK and 68 other countries. The Convention works on the
principle of returning children aged under 16 years who are wrongfully removed or retained away from their
country of habitual residence. In order to be considered wrongful, a removal or retention must be in breach of
rights of custody which are actually being exercised by a person, an institution or any other body under the law of
the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention to or in another
Parents can also make applications under the Convention to secure contact arrangements with their children if
they live overseas and contact is being prevented.
The Revised Brussels II Regulation
Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of the European Parliament came into effect on 1 March 2005 (the Revised
Brussels II Regulation). The Regulation applies to cases of parental child abduction within the European Union
(with the exception of Denmark) and to the registration and enforcement of orders relating to parental
responsibility and contact within the European Union.
The European Convention
Since 1 March 2005 this Convention only operates between Denmark and European countries which are not
members of the European Union. The Convention can be used for the enforcement of decisions concerning
custody of children and on restoration of custody of children. Orders made in European Convention countries are
recognised, but must be registered before being enforced. Enforcement may not necessarily follow immediately
For more detailed information on 1980 Hague Convention, the Revised Brussels II Regulation and the 1980
European Convention please see our website at www.officialsolicitor.gov.uk or see our Advice to Parents
booklet. You can obtain a copy of the Advice to Parents booklet by contacting the ICACU. Our contact details are
set out at end of this leaflet.
Guidance on completing the ‘Central Authority for England and Wales application form’
Put a cross in the box which corresponds to the type of application that you are making. Please note that you
should only choose one option.
Request for Return
The conditions for applying for a return under the 1980 Hague Convention/Revised Brussels II Regulation are as
1. the child(ren) must be aged under 16
2. the child(ren) must have been habitually resident in the UK before they were removed or retained and
taken to another Hague Convention country (a list of countries in which the 1980 Hague Convention is in
force with the UK is included on page 4 of this leaflet)
3. the permanent removal or retention of the child(ren) from the UK was without the consent or approval of
the left-behind parent, who has parental responsibility for the child(ren) and has not been sanctioned by
an order of the court
Request for Contact
The conditions for applying for securing contact under the 1980 Hague Convention are as follows.
1. the child must be aged under 16
2. the applicant parent is being denied access to the child
3. the child resides in another contracting Hague Convention country (a list of countries in which the 1980
Hague Convention is in force with the UK is included on page 4 of this leaflet)
Request for Registration and Enforcement of an existing court order
You must have an existing court order which gives you parental responsibility and/or contact with respect to the
If the orders were made in proceedings commenced after 1 March 2005 you will be able to enforce those orders
in all European Union countries other than Denmark, in which your child is living, under the Revised Brussels II
Regulation. You will need to obtain the appropriate certificate in accordance with the Revised Brussels II
Regulation from the court which issued the orders.
If the orders were made in proceedings commenced prior to 1 March 2005 the orders may still be enforceable
under the transitional provisions of the Revised Brussels II Regulation. If the orders are not enforceable under
the Revised Brussels II Regulation, you may be able to register and enforce the orders in the country in which
your child is living under the European Convention.
A list of countries which the operate the Revised Brussels II Regulation and the European Convention is included
on page 5 of this leaflet.
If you are unsure as to whether you can make an application for Registration and Enforcement you should
contact your solicitor or the ICACU to discuss the circumstances of your case.
Sections 2 and 3: Details of the Child(ren) and parents
Please complete all the boxes as fully as possible. However, if you do not have the passport numbers you can
leave it blank as this information is not absolutely essential.
Section 4: Details of requesting individual or institution
Please complete all the boxes as fully as possible. You should only provide details of a solicitor if you are actually
instructing one in relation to this matter. You should also indicate whether you wish the ICACU to correspond
directly with you or your solicitor. If you wish the ICACU to correspond directly with your solicitor you should be
aware that there could be cost implications for you. You should discuss this with your solicitor.
If you are a local authority please provide the details of the individual within your legal department who has
conduct of the matter.
Section 5: Details of person alleged to have removed/retained/preventing contact with
child(ren) and current location of child(ren).
Please provide as much detail as possible, especially with respect to the location of the child(ren). Your case
could progress much more quickly if we are able to supply the foreign authorities with a complete address or
even full details of persons in the foreign country who may know the whereabouts of the children. Land line
telephone numbers and mobile telephone numbers can also be helpful.
Section 6(a): Date and circumstances of wrongful removal or retention.
You only need to complete this section if you are making an application for the return of your child(ren). Please
provide as much relevant information as possible for example the date the children left the country and how they
travelled. Were you given any indication of a possible removal before it happened and have you had any contact
with the abductor since they left. If it is a retention you need give details on when and how the children were to
be returned and whether any formal agreements were put in place.
6(b): Factual or legal grounds justifying the request for return of child(ren)
This section is very important as it forms the basis for your application. In order to be considered wrongful, a
removal or retention must be in breach of rights of custody which are actually being exercised by a person, an
institution or any other body under the law of the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately
before the removal or retention
The law which applies to rights of custody in England and Wales is the Children Act 1989 which refers to rights of
custody as parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is defined as all the rights, duties, powers,
responsibilities and authority which by law, a parent of a child has in relation to the child and their property. This
includes the right to determine the child’s place of residence. Therefore, if a child is taken by one parent, out of
the jurisdiction to another Hague Convention country without the consent of the other parent, the removal is in
breach of the rights of custody of that parent and the removal is considered wrongful within the meaning of the
In England and Wales when a child’s parents are married they both share parental responsibility for their child.
When they are not married, only the mother automatically has parental responsibility. As from 1 December 2003,
if both parents are present when the birth of the child is registered under the Births Deaths and Marriages act
1953, an unmarried father will also automatically acquire parental responsibility. An unmarried father can also
obtain parental responsibility either by court order or formal agreement.
Please ensure that your application is accompanied by either a copy of your marriage certificate or divorce
decree. If you have a court order which gives you parental responsibility or a formal parental responsibility
agreement you should include a copy of that. If you have parental responsibility by virtue of the change in law on
1 December 2003, you should include a copy of the child(ren)’s birth certificate(s) which includes details of the
Section 7(a): Circumstances relating to the prevention of contact with child(ren).
You only need to complete this section if you are making an application for contact with your child(ren). Please
provide as much information as possible regarding the circumstances of the prevention of contact. If you have
any documentary evidence of the refusal, for example emails, they can be helpful.
7(b): Proposed arrangements for contact.
Please provide your proposal for the contact you would like to have with your child(ren). You need to be very
specific in your proposal for example, do you want to have regular telephone contact or written contact via
email? If you would like to have visiting contact during the school holidays you need to indicate which country
you would like the contact to take place in and you also need to think about travel costs. For example you may
have to fund the travel costs yourself.
Section 8: Civil court proceedings that have concluded or are in progress
Please provide details of any relevant court proceedings that have concluded or are still ongoing both in and
outside England and Wales. Please also provide copies of any orders which have been made within those
Section 9: List of supporting documents attached
Please list all the supporting documents that you have referred to in your application. Remember you should
include copies of any relevant court orders, statements or affidavits, and recent colour photographs of the
abductor and the child(ren). Please also include copies of the child(ren)’s birth certificate and your marriage
certificate (full A4 size copies which include details of both parents) or divorce decree.
Section 10: Applicant’s authorisation
Please sign and date the form.
Central Authority contact details
Scotland and Northern Ireland have different legal systems from England and Wales and the law in Scotland and
Northern Ireland also differs in some respects so for purposes of the Hague Convention the UK is split into
England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and each have their own Central Authority.
Central Authority for England and Wales
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit is open
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. In an emergency outside
Office of the Official Solicitor these hours you should contact reunite who will provide an
emergency contact number Tel 0116 2556 234.
81 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1DD
DX0012 London Chancery Lane
Tel: 020 7911 7047/7045
Fax:020 7911 7248
Central Authority for Northern Ireland Central Authority for Scotland
Northern Ireland Court Service Scottish Executive Justice Department
Civil and Family Branch Private International Law Branch
21st Floor, Windsor House St. Andrew's House
9-15 Bedford Street EDINBURGH EH1 3DG
BELFAST BT2 7LT Tel: 0131 244 4827
tel.: +44 (28) 90 328 594 ext. 2289 Fax: 0131 244 4848
fax: +44 (28) 90 314 854
1980 Hague Convention Countries
Burkina Faso Montenegro
Chile New Zealand
Costa Rica Panama
Cyprus (southern) Poland
Czech Republic Portugal
Ecuador St Kitts and Nevis
El Salvador Serbia
Finland South Africa
Hong Kong USA
Republic of Ireland Venezuela
The Revised Brussels II Countries
Czech Republic Netherlands
Republic of Ireland Sweden
Italy United Kingdom
Please note that the above lists include only countries in which the 1980 Hague Convention is in force with the UK at present or for Revised Brussels II,
countries which are members of the EU with the exception of Denmark.
1980 European Convention Countries
Czech Republic Moldova
Republic of Ireland Sweden