Ad hoc query on the Return of Unaccompanied Minors

This compilation of responses to a french ad hoc query provides information on the removal of unaccompanied minors in the EU Member States.

17 Member States (AT, BE, BG, DE, EE, ES, FI, FR, HU, LU, LT, LV, FR, SE, SK, SI, UK) answered this ad-hoc query. AT and LT EMN NCPs have requested that their reply should not be further disseminated.


1. Among the Member States which provided data (BE, BG, ES, FI, FR, HU, LU, LV, FR, SI, SK, SL), FR (6,721), BE (4,000) and NL (2,375) are the countries with the most important number of UAMs present on their territory in 2011.

2. In general, it seems that very few UAMs are returned or repatriated to their country of origin from the different Member States.

3. Some Member States do not enforce forced return of UAMs (FR, BE, SK). In general, repatriation, forced or voluntary returns of UAMs are carried out in accordance with the principle of the best interest of the minor and only if measures have been taken to ensure appropriate reception in the country of origin. In most Member States (BE, DE, ES, FR, FI, HU, LV, NL, SE, SI, SK), it is considered that appropriate reception has been ensured when an UAM can be returned to a member of her/his family willing to take care of him/her or a youth welfare organisation in the country of origin. In DE, LU, SI and SK, return of UAMs cannot be implemented without the consent of the legal guardian in the Member State. In BE and FI, voluntary return is limited to UAMs for whom IOM can provide/link to appropriate reintegration and follow-up assistance in their countries or origin.

4. In many Member States (BE, BG, EE, HU, NL, LU, LV, SI), UAMs are not kept in detention facility but are placed in appropriate facilities adapted to the need of minors in order to allow the forced return or the repatriation. Certain Member States (DE, and LV) have also defined a minimum age under which a minor cannot be deprived of his/her liberty. This minimum age can vary from 14 (LV) to 16 years old (DE). The maximum period during which a minor can be deprived of his/her liberty can vary from 6 days (SE) to 12 months (LV).

5. Only few Member States (DE, NL, SE) have implemented specific projects for UAMs. In BE, FI, LV, SI, global projects for returnees offer special provisions for returning UAMs.

6. In case of any doubt on the applicant's statements, the authorities of most Member States use the method consisting in an X-ray of his/her hand and wrist and teeth examination to assess his/her age. In most cases, the minority of the applicant is recognised when the uncertainty persists about his/her age.

7. Most Member States require UAMs to hold a residence permit after 18 years old. Depending on the Member State, the access to residence is facilitated (BE, FI, FR, LU, UK) or does not differ from common law scheme (EE, HU, SI, SK). In certain Member States (FR, LV, NL), provisions regarding the access to residence vary according to the age from which UAMs have been placed under the care of the competent social services or applied for a residence permit.

8. The entity which is in charge of restoring family links is, depending on the Member State, either an international organisation/NGO (BE, DE, LU) or a public authority (ES, SE, SK, SI). In EE, HU and NL, both types of organisms cooperate to restore family links. In certain Member States (FI, FR, LV, SE), the body responsible for family tracing varies according to the nature of the procedure. In most countries, the Red Cross plays an active role in restoring family links.

Publication Date:
Thu 17 Jan 2013
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