6. Adopting a child from overseas

You can adopt a child from overseas if:

  • they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country
  • the adoption would be in their best interests
  • the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency in the UK

If you want to adopt a child from overseas, you should contact either:

The adoption process is similar to a UK adoption and will be done by a UK adoption agency which may charge a fee.

There are several other steps, for example:

  • the assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority
  • you’ll need to visit the child in their own country
  • your application will be sent to the child’s country

The UK adoption agency will let you know what you need to do.

Fees

The Department for Education (DfE) may charge a fee for processing your application. Fees depend on your income. All fees are exempt from VAT.

Income Fee
Under £25,000 No fee
£25,000 to £45,000 £885
Over £45,000 £1,775

Complete the form if you want to apply for a means test to get a fee reduction. Close relatives who want to adopt are exempt from fees.

The fee includes case management but does not include legalisation costs.

Contact the relevant authority to find out about fees and procedures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Restrictions

The UK has restricted adoption from the following countries:

  • Cambodia
  • Guatemala
  • Nepal
  • Haiti

You must contact the Intercountry Adoption Team if you want to adopt a child from any of these countries. You’ll have to apply in writing, telling them the reasons why your case should be an exception.

Intercountry Adoption Team
Department for Education
Mowden Hall
Darlington
DL3 9BG

Scotland has a different system for dealing with restricted countries.

If you live abroad

You must follow the adoption laws of the country you’re in if you’re normally resident in that country and want to adopt.

You must follow UK adoption law if you’re normally resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands. This is sometimes called ‘habitual residence’ and can apply even if you’re living abroad at the time of the adoption.

You may have to give a sworn statement in front of a solicitor that you’re no longer habitually resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands if the country asks for a ‘no objection’ letter from the UK government. You must send this statement either to the Intercountry Adoption Team at the Department of Education or the nearest British embassy.

If you’ve adopted a child – either in the UK or overseas - and then travel or move to a third country, the adoption may not be recognised in that country. If you have any doubts you should get legal advice.

Registering an adoption

You can register the adoption with the General Register Office (GRO) - fill out the relevant application form and send it to GRO.

There are some restrictions on how a child can be adopted to the UK.

Child born Child adopted Restriction
Overseas Overseas The adoption can only be registered if the adoptive parents were residents in England or Wales at the time of adoption
England or Wales Overseas The adoption can only be registered if the child’s birth was registered in England or Wales

You’ll need to provide supporting documents - read the guidance notes before you register.

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