Travel and relocation of a child overseas is a guardianship issue, which means that the guardians (who are usually the mother and father) should agree to this before the child goes anywhere.

If agreement cannot be reached, the court can be asked to assist and make an order. However it is important to keep in mind that, physically, a child can still be removed from New Zealand without either agreement or a court order.

If you are genuinely concerned about your child being taken abroad without your consent, it is crucial that you act fast.

Having possession of your child’s passport may not be enough. The consent of only one parent is required for a child’s passport to be issued, and a child may have multi citizenships. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to apply urgently to the court for an Order Preventing Removal. If this is granted you can also ask for a Border Alert to be registered, which acts to stop a child boarding any aircraft or ship.

It is always best to prevent a child being removed in the first instance, as seeking for them to be returned can be a very long and difficult task.

New Zealand is a signatory to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which is an international treaty aimed to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained overseas, and to ensure that the laws of custody/access in the child’s habitual place of residence are respected.

However the processes under this Convention can be utilised only if the child is taken to another country who has signed the Convention, and it can be much more difficult and expensive if a child is taken to a non-Hague Convention country.

Removal of children from New Zealand is an issue we come across regularly, particularly during a separation when tensions are high.

If you have any concerns about this, please feel free to contact us to discuss. 


Please note that Rainey Collins is not contracted to provide Legal Aid, other than in the Treaty of Waitangi area.  We therefore are unable to take on any Civil or Family Legal Aid work. If you require Legal Aid in those areas, you can search the list of Legal Aid lawyers on the Ministry of Justice website.