Information on proceedings abroad

General Information

This page contains information about country-specific requirements and difficulties in proceedings carried out abroad based on the experience of the Federal Office of Justice as the Swiss central authority. The information does not guarantee completeness and accuracy in all proceedings.

The Federal Office of Justice will be happy to answer any questions you may have by telephone or e-mail.

  • The Convention provides that that the work done by the central authorities is free of charge. Court or administrative proceedings, including any necessary legal representation, are also free of charge.

    However, Contracting States may make it a condition that an exemption from costs is granted only in accordance with national rules on legal aid (see List of Contracting States). These rules can vary from one State to another. Due to the difference in purchasing power between certain countries and Switzerland, applicants from Switzerland, even if their income is low by Swiss standards, may not be granted legal aid e.g. in the USA).

    Some States will grant legal aid even though they made a reservation on costs (e.g. Finland and the United Kingdom [only in the case of return proceedings] and Bulgaria [provided that legal representation is provided through the central authority]). In some States in which the proceedings are conducted by the central authority or the prosecutor’s office (e.g. Brazil, France, Portugal, Spain and the Dominican Republic), you normally have to pay if you instruct a legal representative.

    Legal representation and court costs vary from country to country and are for the most part difficult to estimate. The translation costs for the documents to be provided are paid by the applicants. Certified translations are sometimes required (e.g. in Thailand and Poland).

  • List of contracting States (PDF, 109 kB, 23.09.2020)

Last modification 27.04.2021

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