International Child Abduction

As cohabitating and marital relationships between Irish and non-Irish citizens are becoming much more common, the removal of a child from the state without the other partner’s consent (typically after the parents’ relationship breaks down) is becoming more of an issue. The latest figures from the Department of Justice indicate that they worked on 343 cases of international child abduction in 2016. 

International child abduction is an offence under section 16 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997, which is the starting point for any international child abduction investigation and can only be initiated by a parent or legal guardian.

International and EU legal instruments governing international child abduction include:

  • The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
  • The European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Concerning Custody of Children (Luxembourg Convention).
  • The 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.
  • EC Regulation 2201/2003.

Click here for further information on the instruments governing international child abduction. 

If you believe your child is at risk of abduction, you should seek legal advice and contact the Gardaí at your local garda station. For information on the steps to take if your child is at risk of abduction, click here.

If your child has been internationally abducted, you should contact the Gardaí and the Central Authority in the Department of Justice which supports the return of abducted children. Click here for information on the Central Authority, including the function of the Central Authority (outgoing and incoming applications), the application process and the circumstances outside of its remit. Contact details are listed below.

Further Information

The Citizens Information website has a very informative page relating to international child abduction. This includes guidance on the steps to take if your child is at risk of international abduction or has been abducted.

The Department of Justice provides a useful and detailed resource on international child abduction, including both the laws and the processes involved. It sets out what to do if your child has been taken, outlining how to make an application for the return of a child in such circumstances.

Treoir also provides accessible information on international child abduction, outlining the rules regarding both national and international child abduction in circumstances where the parents of the child are not married to each other. Information is available for those who fear their child has been abducted, including details of related support services.


Organisation Telephone Email Website Address

The Central Authority for Child Abduction


Tel: 01 4790200

LoCall: 1890 555 509  

     Department of Justice and Equality, Bishop’s Square, Redmond’s Hill
Dublin 2 

Department of Justice and Equality

Lo-Call: 1890 221 227    94 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 

Department of Foreign Affairs 

Tel: 01 4780822

LoCall: 1890 426 700  80 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 

Legal Aid Board


Tel: (066) 947 1000 

Lo-call No: 1890 615 200  Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry 



Tel:+353 (0)1 6700120 

Locall:1890 252084  Treoir, 14 Gandon House, Custom House Square, IFSC, Dublin 1 

Citizens Information

0761 07 4000  260 drop-in locations nationwide. Find your local centre here. 

European Parliament Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction



  60 Rue Wiertz,
B-1047 Brussels,

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF