Adopting a Child from Overseas to UK

This guide explains how to adopt a child from another country and bring them to live in United Kingdom. Check DfE fees, several key restrictions, and how to register an overseas adoption.

As a rule, you can adopt a child from abroad to United Kingdom providing:

  • The child cannot get cared for in a safe environment in their own country.
  • The adoption would be in the best interest of the child.
  • A UK adoption agency assesses the adopter as eligible and suitable to adopt a child from overseas.

You would need to contact your local council authority or one of the voluntary adoption agencies that deal with overseas adoption (e.g. CVAA).

There are several similarities to the UK child adoption process. The main difference is that the adoption agency is likely to charge a fee for their services. Other differences include the need to:

  • Send the adoption assessment to the relevant overseas adoption authority.
  • Travel abroad and visit the child while they are in their own country.
  • Send your adoption application to the country where the child has been living.

Note: The United Kingdom adoption agency will guide you through the process of adopting a child from abroad.

DfE Adoption Application Fees

The Department for Education (DfE) charge a fee of £1,975. The fees are for processing the application and are exempt from VAT.

Use the ‘Intercountry adoption: means test form‘ to apply for a fee reduction. As a close relative of the child you would be exempt from the adoption fees.

Note: The fee includes the charges for case management but excludes legalisation costs. The relevant authority can confirm the fees and procedures in Scotland, Wales, and in Northern Ireland

UK Intercountry Adoption Rules and Restrictions

The United Kingdom has some restricted adoption practice and procedures from these countries:

  • Cambodia
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria

You might still be able to adopt a child from a restricted country. But, you would need to contact the Intercountry Adoption Team.

Intercountry Adoption Casework Team
Level 0, Riverside
Bishopsgate House
Darlington DL1 5QE

You can check the full list of countries and the reasons why some special restrictions are in place. You would have to apply in writing and give some reasons why your particular case should be an exception.

Note: In Scotland, there are countries in which special restrictions are in place too. You will find them published under section 62 of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007.

If You are Living Abroad

You may be able to adopt even if you are ‘normally’ resident in a country overseas. You would need to follow the adoption laws of the country where you live.

Follow the UK adoption law if you are ‘normally’ resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. Often called ‘habitual residence’, it can apply even for people living abroad at the time of the adoption.

The country might ask for a ‘no objection’ letter from the United Kingdom government. If so, you might need to give a sworn statement in front of a solicitor. It would state that you are no longer ‘habitually’ resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. Send it to (either):

  • The Intercountry Adoption Team at the Department of Education.
  • The nearest British embassy.

Note: Moving or traveling to a third country after adopting a child (abroad or in the UK) means that country may not recognise the adoption. Always seek legal advice if you have any doubts.

Registering an Overseas Adoption

In some cases, you can make an application to register an overseas adoption in the Adopted Child Register for England and Wales. Eligibility for applying would depend on whether:

  • The adoption took place in one of the qualifying overseas countries.
  • The parent(s) were ‘habitually’ resident in England or Wales when the adoption took place.
  • The parent(s) can provide all the required supporting documentation.

You can read further guidance notes before filling in the application form. Registration would then take place with the General Register Office (GRO).

Adopting a Child from Overseas to the United Kingdom