Child abduction and custody issues

Canadian officials abroad work closely with local authorities to advocate for the safety, protection and well-being of Canadian children overseas. They also seek the cooperation of provincial and territorial child welfare authorities to ensure that children are protected from harm. If a Canadian child overseas is a victim of sexual assault, neglect, physical violence or abuse, you are encouraged to report it to the nearest Canadian government office abroad of from Canada to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

Canadian officials abroad can also take emergency measures on behalf of Canadian children facing the threat of being, or forced into, marriage abroad, requesting protection from local social services, if required. For more information, please visit our Forced marriage page.

Prevent parental abduction

International parental child abductions and custody cases involving Canadian children in foreign countries are on the rise. If you or your partner are planning to travel to another country with your child and there is a possibility that a custody dispute might develop:

International recognition of Canadian custody orders

Your Canadian child custody order may not be automatically recognized in the country to which your child could be abducted. In extreme cases, you or your child may not be allowed to leave the country once you have arrived. Confirm your status and that of your child with the country’s embassy or consulate in Canada before you travel.

If a custody dispute arises while your child is abroad, or if your child or a child you know is missing and may have been abducted, contact the Case Management Division of Global Affairs Canada toll-free through the Emergency Watch and Response Centre. Consult our publication International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents for further information.

If you have child abduction or custody issues abroad, Canadian officials can:

Canadian government officials abroad cannot:

The RCMP’s Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children maintains a website, Canada’s Missing, that contains a database of missing and abducted children. Once a child has been located, the Travel/Reunification program is designed to assist a parent or legal guardian who cannot afford to return the abducted child to or within Canada.

The Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children is an income support grant delivered by Service Canada. PMMC is available to eligible applicants who have suffered a loss of income as a result of taking time away from work to cope with the death or disappearance of their child or children as the result of a probable Criminal Code offence which occurred in Canada.

Sexual exploitation of foreign children

Some Canadians travel abroad for the purpose of sexually exploiting foreign children. This practice is known as “child sex tourism”. Such travellers take advantage of the poverty and powerlessness of children in foreign countries, expecting to exploit weaknesses in law enforcement. For more information on the sexual exploitation of foreign children, see our publication Child Sex Tourism: It’s a Crime.

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