International Parental Child Abduction Prevention
There are two critical programs available to U.S. parent citizens that may aid in the prevention of their U.S. child citizen from being internationall abducted. They are:
The Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP) is one of the Department’s most important tools for preventing international parental child abduction. The program allows parents to register theirU.S. citizen children under the age of 18 in the Department’s Passport Lookout System. If a passport application is submitted for a child who is registered in CPIAP, the Department contacts and alerts the parent or parents. The passport lookout system gives all U.S. passport agencies as well as U.S. embassies and consulates abroad an alert on a child’s name if a parent or guardian registers an objection to passport issuance for his or her child. This procedure provides parents advance warning of possible plans for international travel with the child.
The Charleston Passport Center, which is part of Passport Services, is responsible for administering CPIAP.
U.S. Department of State
Passport Services, Charleston Passport Center
Attn: Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program
1269 Holland Street, Building D
Charleston, SC 29405
Who can request a child be entered into CPIAP?
Entry Request Form
Usually a parent requests that his/her child or children be entered into the program. Sometimes both parents will separately submit a request. Requests may also be submitted by law enforcement or a court, or someone acting on behalf of a parent, such as an attorney, a member of Congress, or another family member. All requests for entry of a child into the program must be in writing and signed.
It is not necessary for a parent to have any custodial rights to the child in order to request that the child be entered in CPIAP. So long as a parent has not had his/her rights terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction, he/she can request that the child be entered into CPIAP.
REMEMBER: Only U.S. Citizen children under the age of 18 can be entered into CPIAP.
Does entering a child's name into CPIAP always prevent a passport from being issued?.
Entering a child's name into CPIAP does not guarantee that a child will not be issued a passport. The parent who requests entry of his/her child into the program may consent to issuance of the passport after receiving notification of the passport application. It is also possible for a passport to be issued to a child under 16 without consent of both parents (or legal guardian), if the applicant for the passport can establish that consent of both parents is not required under Federal law (22 CFR 51.28). A court order providing the applicant parent or guardian with sole custody of the child, or a court order specifically authorizing the applicant parent or guardian to travel with the child, for example, would allow the Department to issue a passport without the consent of another parent or guardian. This is true even if the child has been entered into CPIAP.
If a passport application is executed on behalf of a child entered into CPIAP, the parent who requested the alert will receive notification of the passport application and will generally receive 30 days to consent or object to issuance of the passport, absent extraordinary circumstances. However, if the applicant can demonstrate that he/she has sole authority to apply for a passport under U.S. law, the passport may still be issued at any time.
How Do I Enter My Child into CPIAP?
To enter your child into CPIAP, you must submit three items to the Department of State's Passport Services.
1. Completed Entry Request Form
2. Proof of Your Identy (Your driver’s license or other identity card)
3. Birth Certificate or Documentation that Shows Your Parentage/Guardianship (Hospital issued certificate or Consular Report of Birth Abroad)
E-mail, fax, or mail these three items to Passport Services, Charleston Passport Center (contact information above).
A child is automatically removed from CPIAP when he/she reaches the age of 18. In the event a parent wants to remove a child or children from CPIAP prior to reaching age 18, the parent must submit a photo ID and a notarized statement requesting the removal from the program. Only the parent or entity who requested the child’s entry into the program can request the child’s removal from the program.
IMPORTANT: It is very important that parents keep Passport Services informed in writing of any changes to contact information and legal representation. Failure to notify Passport Services of a current address may result in a passport issuance for your child without your consent.
What if my child already has a passport?
You may enter your child's name into CPIAP even if he/she already has a passport. This will allow the Department of State to notify you if Passport Services receives an application for renewal of the passport.
The Department may not revoke a passport that has already been issued to the child. There is also no way to track the use of a passport once it has been issued, since the United States does not have exit controls for people leaving the U.S. If your child already has a passport, and you fear the other parent may abduct your child from the United States, ask a court or your attorneys to hold it.
What if my child has a passport of another country?
Many United States citizen children who fall victim to international parental abduction possess dual nationality. While the Department of State will make every effort to avoid issuing a United States passport without the consent of both parents, the Department cannot prevent other countries from issuing their passports to children who are also their nationals. You can, however, ask a foreign embassy or consulate in the United States not to issue a passport to your child. Send the embassy or consulate a written request, along with certified complete copies of any court orders you have which address custody or the overseas travel of your child. In your letter, inform them that you are sending a copy of this request to the United States Department of State. If your child is only a United States citizen, you can request that no visa for that country be issued in his or her U.S. passport. Just keep in mind that no international law requires compliance with such requests, although some countries may comply voluntarily.
IMPORTANT: The United States government does not have exit controls at the border. The U.S. government does not check the names or the documents of travelers leaving the United States. If your child has a valid passport from any country, he or she may be able to travel outside the United States without your consent.
2. Prevent Departure Program
One of the primary loopholes that exist today is for a non-national parent who has intent to abduct their child to simply obtain a foreign passport for their United States born citizen from the embassy of the nation they are a citizen of. And there is nothing that a United States court can do to prevent this from happening. Even if a United States court orders a foreign embassy to not issue a passport in the child’s name, they have no jurisdiction over that nation and their ability to issue a passport to a child possessing dual citizenship. Tragically, the instances of foreign passports issued despite concerns of abduction are substantial, and the tragedies endless.
But there is in fact something that United States citizens can do if they believe that the child’s other parent, who must not be a United States citizen, is intending to abduct their child across international borders. In the aftermath of 911, the Department of Homeland Security’s ‘Prevent Departure Program’ was created to stop non-U.S. citizens from departing the country.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) oversees this program and it is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ‘Prevent Departure Program’ was created to ensure that no alien will depart the United States if his or her departure would not be to the national interest of the United States.
What the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ does is provide immediate information to the transportation industry, including all air, land, and sea channels a single point of contact at Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and provides a comprehensive database of individuals the United States believes may immediately depart to a foreign country. It is believed that information placed in the ‘Prevent Departure Program’ is also included in databases for points of entry at all land entry/exit points.
The program only applies to aliens, and is not available to stop U.S. citizens or dual U.S./foreign citizens from leaving the country. Under Section 215 of the ‘Immigration and Nationality Act’ (8 U.S.C. 1185) and it’s implementing regulations (8 CFR Part 215 and 22 CFR Part 46), it authorizes departure-control officers to prevent an alien’s departure from the United States if the alien’s departure would be prejudicial to the interests of the United States. These regulations include would-be abductions of U.S. citizens in accordance to court orders originating from the child’s court of habitual residency.
If the abductor and child are identified, they will be denied boarding. In order to detain them after boarding is denied, there must be a court order prohibiting the child’s removal or providing for the child’s pick-up, or a warrant for the abductor. In order for an at risk parent to participate in the program, all of the following must be demonstrated:
1. Subject may NOT be a US citizen; and,
2. The nomination must include a law enforcement agency contact with 24/7 coverage; and,
3. There must be a court order showing which parent has been awarded custody or shows that the Subject is restrained from removing his/her minor child from certain counties, the state or the U.S.; and,
4. The Subject must be in the US; and,
5. There must be some likelihood that the Subject will attempt to depart in the immediate future.
With respect to the established guidelines listed above, note that in order to request the listing of the other parent, that person must be an alien of the United States. Additionally, it is mandatory that the request must include support by a law enforcement agency or from the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, which has the authority of requesting for the Department of Homeland Security to list a suspected child abductor on the ‘Prevent Departure Program’.
For more information on the Prevent Departure Program, please contact the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (www.travel.state.gov/childabduciton) and speak with someone from the Preventio