Children and parental consent
- We normally require the written consent of every person who has parental responsibility before a passport can be issued to a child
- This is to protect children from abduction and safeguard the rights of all people who have parental responsibility
Who needs to give consent?
There are laws governing the issue of Australian passports to children.
These laws are designed to protect children from abduction and to safeguard the rights of all people with parental responsibility for children.
Before a passport may be issued to a child (anyone under 18 years who has never married), the written consent of all people with parental responsibility for the child is needed.
Where consent cannot be lodged with the application, it can be provided through an Australia Post outlet, Australian passport office or overseas at an Australian diplomatic mission or consulate.
In most cases, people with parental responsibility are the parents named on the child’s full birth certificate. Their parental responsibility can only be removed by an Australian court.
Where only one person is named on a child’s birth certificate but another person has parental responsibility, that person must also provide consent before a passport may be issued.
As well as the parents named on the child’s full birth certificate, other people (including child welfare agencies) may have parental responsibility through Australian court orders covering residence, contact, access rights,
guardianship, custody, or other specific issues relating to the child.
Applicants must provide the originals of all court orders relating to the child with a completed Form B-7 (No further court orders - Child Application).
Foreign court orders
Foreign court orders, even if they remove parental rights of a person, do not override the consent requirements under Australian passport legislation.
The consent of the other person(s) is still required despite the foreign court order.
The only exceptions are:
- orders from a court of a signatory country to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction permitting a child to travel internationally that allow the issue of a passport without full parental consent under special circumstances, or
- foreign court orders registered under the Australian Family Law Act 1975.
However, all foreign court orders should be submitted with the application as supporting documentation. They may be taken into account in assessing the application.
If a foreign court order is being submitted in a language other than English, a full translation must be provided by an approved translating and interpreting service (see this website for detailed requirements).
What happens if you cannot get consent?
The only way to guarantee the issue of a passport to a child without full parental consent is with an Australian court order that permits the child to travel internationally.
Alternatively, you may request that your child’s application be considered under the special circumstances set out in section 11(2) of the Australian Passport Act 2005 and section 2.1 of the Australian Passports Determination 2005.
In such cases, the passport application must be accompanied by a completed Form B-8 (Mother’s name only on child’s birth certificate) or B-9 (Child without full parental consent or Australian court order permitting international travel) in which the applicant states why the necessary consent has not and cannot be obtained.
Forms B-7, B-8 and B-9 are available online at this website, and through Australia Post outlets and Australian passport offices in Australia. Overseas, they are available from Australian diplomatic missions or consulates.
The legislation governing passport issue in Australia can be found at www.dfat.gov.au/publications/passports/LegislativeAuthority/index.htm.
An application lodged for consideration under special circumstances will be assessed by a delegate of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The delegate may:
- decide a passport may be issued on the basis of special circumstances, or
- decide a passport cannot be issued as special circumstances do not exist, or
- may refuse to exercise his/her discretion because the matter should be dealt with by a court.
There is no guarantee that an application lodged under special circumstances will result in a passport being issued to the child. The application fee is generally not refunded if a passport is not issued to the child.
Right of review
A decision not to issue an Australian passport to a child because special circumstances do not exist is a reviewable decision under section 48 of the Act. There is no right of review if the delegate approves the issue of a passport or refuses to exercise his/her discretion to issue a passport.
A decision not to refund the application fee for a child passport is also a reviewable decision.
The normal processing times and the option to select priority processing are only available where full parental consent is confirmed at time of lodgement.
Where a child’s application is lodged without the consent of a person with parental responsibility, an additional three to four weeks is generally required to determine whether special circumstances exist.
This time is needed for passport officers to make inquiries, which may include writing to the other people with parental responsibility to advise them that an application has been lodged and to seek their consent.
Note: It is advisable not to make firm travel plans or pay for tickets until you know whether passport approval has been given.
Preventing the issue of a passport to your child
A person with parental responsibility for a child may raise a Child Alert which warns the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) there may be circumstances that need to be considered before an Australian travel document is issued to a child.
Child Alert Request Forms (Form PC9) are available at passport offices in Australia, from this website, by phoning the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 or from Australian diplomatic missions or consulates overseas.
A Child Alert will not stop a child from travelling if she/he already has, or is legally entitled to, an Australian passport or travel document issued by another country. However, you may seek a court order to have your child’s name placed on the Airport Watch List by the Australian Federal Police. For more information, go to http://www.afp.gov.au/policing/family-law/family-law-kit.
International parental child abduction
Before travelling overseas with your child you should be aware that removing a child from Australia without the other parent’s consent may constitute a criminal offence under the Family Law Act 1975, punishable by up to three years in prison.
If you want to travel overseas with your child without the other parent’s consent you should seek legal advice before doing so.
If you want to relocate overseas with your child you should seek the other parent’s agreement in writing, or seek relocation orders through the Australian Family Law Courts.
For more information, go to www.ag.gov.au/childabduction.