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Removing a child from the list

Information about taking a child's name off the airport watch list.

It will generally be necessary to apply to court for an order that removes the child's name from the airport watch list when the parent wants to allow the child to travel again.

Unless the order has an expiry date, the child’s name will stay on the airport watch list until they are 18 years old unless there is a court order to remove their name.

How to remove the order

If both parties agree to the order being removed they must complete and sign an application for consent orders.

If there is no consent, an application will have to be made for a variation. If proceedings are already on foot, they can file an Application in a case.

See Forms.

Orders may include an expiry date

Frequently airport watch list orders will be made to include an expiry date. These orders will usually set an expiry for either 12 months or 2 years from the date that the order is made. This prevents a child being detained and refused permission to leave the country years later if nobody remembered to withdraw the order.

See Forms.

Suspending orders

It is possible to seek an order that allows the child to travel for a particular period of time.

It may also be possible for a parent to consent to travel by statutory declaration if the order restricting overseas travel makes allowance for this. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will need to get this at least 7 days before travel.

If an amending court order is made to permit travel a copy of the original order must be sent to the AFP at least 7 days before the parties intend travelling.

When to make an application to remove orders

A person may need a good reason for the orders to be removed, particularly if the child is young. For example, they may apply to remove the orders if:

  • the matter is urgent, for example if an immediate family member is dying
  • the other party cannot be located
  • it is in the best interests of the child to travel.

Courts may decide not remove orders

Any decision that the court makes will be in the best interests of the child. Therefore they may be reluctant to remove orders when:

  • the child is young and will not remember the travel (if they are too young)
  • the party has a greater connection with the other country
  • the country is a non Hague convention country
  • the travel is for a holiday, or
  • the parent can make alternative arrangements for a young child to stay behind in someone else's care.

More information


Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)

See Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).


Australian Federal Police (AFP)

The AFP site has a kit to assist parents including information about the airport watch list.

See Australian Federal Police—Family Law Kit.

VLA Professional support resources about airport watch

See Practice resources—Family law resources—PACE alerts.