Stop a child leaving New Zealand

It’s a crime if someone tries to take a child out of New Zealand if:

  • it goes against a Parenting Order
  • a case involving the child is about to go to court
  • another person is about to apply for a Court Order.

Anyone convicted of these crimes can go to jail for up to 3 months or be fined up to $2500 or both.

If you want to take a child overseas

If someone else has the day-to-day care of your child or contact with your child, you need to make sure you have their agreement before you take the child overseas. (If a parent or guardian doesn’t have day-to-day care of their child, they will usually have contact with the child. Contact used to be called access.)

If you want to stop a child from leaving New Zealand

If you want to stop someone from taking a child out of New Zealand, you should apply to the Family Court for an Order Preventing Removal.

Find your local court

You also need to ask the court for a border alert. This means that when the child’s details are checked on the Customs system at any New Zealand sea port or airport, the child can be stopped from leaving the country.

Who can ask for an Order Preventing Removal

Anyone can ask for an Order Preventing Removal. Most people who ask for the Order:

  • are a parent of the child
  • are a legal guardian of the child
  • are a spouse or partner of a parent of the child
  • have day-to-day care or contact with the child under a Parenting Order
  • are about to apply for a Parenting Order.

What an Order Preventing Removal can do

To stop someone taking a child overseas without permission, the court can:

  • issue a warrant so the police or a social worker can get the child and put them with someone who will look after them until the court deals with the case
  • Order that the child's passport be given to the court. This will include any parent's passport that has the child's name in it
  • Order the person who planned to take the child overseas to give their passport to the court
  • Order the person who planned to take the child overseas to hand over any travel tickets for them or the child
  • Order that the child stay in New Zealand, either for a limited time or until the court makes another Order.

If the court makes an Order Preventing Removal, it will stop anyone taking the child out of New Zealand – including the person who asks for the Order. As part of your application to the court you can ask to be able to take the child out of the country.

Back to top

This page was last updated: