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11 May 2020

Practical guidance for protecting unaccompanied children in the relocation process

Based on the lessons learned from relocation
experiences and on existing international and EU legal
standards, FRA has developed a number of practical
suggestions for the adjustment of relocation efforts to
the protection needs of unaccompanied children. This
guidance aims to be a practical tool for Member States
that wish to engage in the relocation of unaccompanied
children and in any future responsibility-sharing
mechanisms, and to gain knowledge on how this can
be done while respecting the child’s best interests.

Download the full guide on Relocating unaccompanied children: applying good practices to future schemes >>


  • Protocols and standard operating procedures laying down steps, responsibilities and safeguards in a transparent and clear manner
  • One coordinating body
  • Child protection authorities involved to ensure better integration of child protection expertise

Age assessment

  • Age assessment only in cases of doubt, and with adequate safeguards
  • Apply the benefit of the doubt
  • Use EASO practical guidance on age assessment, and the gradual implementation of methods starting with non-medical methods

Idenitfication and selection of children

  • Common and non-discriminatory eligibility criteria applied by all Member States
  • Avoid too stringent eligibility criteria
  • Prioritisation of especially vulnerable children
  • Involvement of NGOs and international actors in reaching out

Guardian and legal support

  • Immediate appointment and involvement of the guardian throughout the procedure
  • Guardian trained on relocation and on Dublin procedures
  • Coordination of the guardian with other actors involved
  • Free legal information, assistance and representation to the child and to the guardian


  • Timely, effective and regular information at each step of the procedure
  • Information easy to understand for children, written and oral
  • Support of help lines and cultural mediators or other communication channels

Best interests determination

  • Accelerate family reunion in Dublin cases
  • Child’s views are considered during the whole process
  • Repetitive questioning to the child is avoided
  • Child and guardian consent to the relocation

Security checks

  • Prioritisation of checks based on existing biometric data against European and national databases
  • Guardian accompanies the child in case interview is strictly necessary
  • Interview done by trained staff and with child appropriate methods
  • Explicit justification in case of rejection for security concerns

Pre-departure preparation and transfer

  • Child-friendly pre-departure information sessions
  • Early coordination of both Member States to transfer the child’s care responsibilities
  • Establish as soon as possible contact between the child and the future child guardian or carer
  • Travel escort is the same person that was in contact with the child before the transfer
  • Timely, safe and data protection compliant transfer of files

Services after transfer

  • Information about the child to child protection authorities in the Member State of relocation
  • Information to the child about procedures and next
  • Transition plan for the child reaching majority