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Intercountry Adoption

English

Country Information

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Country Information

Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.)
Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) because of ongoing instability and sporadic violence in many parts of the country.  Very poor transportation infrastructure throughout th

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) because of ongoing instability and sporadic violence in many parts of the country.  Very poor transportation infrastructure throughout the DRC, and poor security conditions in the Eastern Congo and Kasais, make it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services anywhere outside of Kinshasa. All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance. This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 29, 2017.

Armed groups operate in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, and the Kasai region. These groups have been known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, and carry out operations in which civilians may be indiscriminately targeted. 

Congolese military and United Nations forces continue to operate throughout North and South Kivu, Tanganyika, Ituri, and near the DRC's borders with the Central African Republic and the Republic of South Sudan, particularly in and around Garamba National Park and the Kasai regions. Travelers in these regions may encounter troop movements, rebel groups, or militias. Kidnapping for ransom is also common, particularly in North and South Kivu.

For further information:

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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes, obtain in advance

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


5 million CDF ($5,400)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Illegal to export CDF

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa

310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone: +(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151

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Destination Description

See our Fact Sheet on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for information on U.S. - Democratic Republic of the Congo relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination.

Visas:

Obtain your visa before traveling. Visit the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo website for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese Embassy or Consulate.

Visa applicants must provide an invitation letter notarized in the DRC and approved at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kinshasa. Allow at least two to three weeks for visa processing.

The DRC does not recognize dual nationality. U.S. citizens should always present themselves as U.S. citizens to Congolese authorities. Otherwise, it may impede our ability to provide consular services.

Airport Fees

All departing international travelers must pay these official fees when checking in:

  • $50 airport exit fee
  • $5 boarding fee
  • Passengers on domestic flights pay $10.

If you experience harassment at any of port of entry, such as detention, passport confiscation or demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “fees,” ask to contact the U.S. Embassy.

Intending Residents

If you are planning to reside in the DRC, register at the office of the Direction General of Migration (DGM) in your commune of residence.

Journalists

Journalists working in the DRC must:

  • enter the DRC through Kinshasa
  • obtain a permit from the Ministry of Communication and Media (a $250 permit is valid for one month)

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the DRC.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Warning for the DRC.

The security situation in parts of eastern DRC remains unstable due to the activities of rebel and other armed groups and ongoing military operations. Sporadic but severe outbreaks of violence targeting civilians, including killing, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Ituri, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele provinces.

The kidnapping of humanitarian workers is on the rise as rebel groups look for supplemental means of income. More than 35 humanitarian workers were kidnapped and held for ransom in Eastern Congo in the first half of 2016. There was a series of kidnappings in North Kivu in the area around Goma in 2015 and 2016.

There is also continued potential for civil unrest in parts of Kinshasa and other major cities related to elections. On September 19 and 20, 2016 large-scale demonstrations erupted into violent clashes resulting in fatalities between demonstrators and security forces in Kinshasa and elsewhere in the country.

Safety Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent and turn deadly.
  • Monitor consular messages and local and international news from reliable sources. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.6 FM. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6:00 p.m., and provides updates throughout the day. In emergencies, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8.

Roadblocks: Both inside and around Kinshasa, security forces set up spontaneous roadblocks, especially after dark, to conduct vehicle searches and check passengers for identity papers. They may also solicit bribes. To protect yourself:

  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed at all times.
  • Do not permit soldiers or police officers to enter your vehicle, and do not get into the vehicle of anyone purporting to be a security official.
  • Remain inside your vehicle with doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate.
  • Carry color photocopies of your passport and other identity documents to give to security or police officials.
  • Remain courteous and calm and, if threatened, do not resist.
  • Report any incident to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.

Crime:

Armed robberies, burglaries, and vehicle thefts occur throughout the country. Carjackings in the North Kivu area have resulted in deaths. Criminals may pose as law enforcement officials especially after nightfall. Avoid traveling throughout the eastern DRC after dark when robbery and banditry are common.

In Kinshasa, U.S. citizens continue to be the victims of serious crimes, including armed robbery. Be aware of vehicle theft and carjacking by armed gangs. Most criminal incidents involve crimes of opportunity, which include pick-pocketing and petty theft, often committed by gangs of homeless street children called “shegues” who can be aggressive and persistent.

  • Be vigilant, particularly on public transportation, in traffic jams, and areas surrounding hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and nightclubs.
  • In heavy traffic, be wary of shegues who may open car doors and steal belongings.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark, and displaying cash and valuable personal property.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.

Report crimes to the local police at +243 81-555-5944 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +243 97 261- 6145. Dial 112 to contact the police in an emergency in Kinshasa. This number eventually will be deployed throughout the DRC, but is currently only operative in the communes of Linguala and Gombe in Kinshasa.

Remember local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You may have difficulties at immigration if you are traveling with satellite phones, GPS receivers or military clothing. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Exit Permits for Adopted Children: U.S. adoptive families of Congolese children are cautioned that attempting to circumvent the exit permit suspension could have severe consequences.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and along border areas. You could be fined, have your photographic equipment confiscated, or be detained or arrested. Do not take photos of Congolese without permission.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Phone Service: Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is unreliable and landlines are nearly non-existent. It may be possible to purchase a SIM card locally and use a U.S.-compatible cell phone.

Currency: The Congolese Franc is the currency of the DRC (CDF) but U.S. dollars are widely accepted in urban areas. Most vendors and banking institutions will accept only bills printed from 2010 or later. Bills must be crisp and in good condition; even those with minor stains or small tears may be rejected. One-dollar bills are rarely accepted.

Counterfeit currency is widely circulated. Examine U.S. bills before accepting them to ensure they are legitimate. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. 

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the DRC.

Individuals engaging in public displays of same-sex sexual conduct can be subject to prosecution under public indecency provisions nevertheless. Homosexuality remains a cultural taboo, and harassment by the state security forces occurs.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, communication, accommodations, and public buildings. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Sexual assault is widespread and occurs largely in the conflict zones in North Kivu province, but also throughout the country by security forces, rebel and militia groups, and civilians, often during attacks on villages and sometimes as a tactic of war to punish civilians. Domestic violence is common. Although the law considers assault a crime there is no specific penalty for spousal abuse. Intervention by police or action by judicial authorities is rare. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Consult the CDC website for the Democratic Republic of the Congo prior to travel. There is currently a yellow fever epidemic in the country.

Medical facilities are severely limited. Medicines are in short supply. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. All care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars in full before treatment is performed. Trusted facilities in Kinshasa are often membership based and require monthly payment for access to care.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

U.S. citizens die from malaria every year in the DRC. Use mosquito repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Malaria chemoprophylaxis is strongly recommended prior to arriving in the DRC and for the duration of your stay.

Due to the high levels of air borne irritants, individuals with respiratory illnesses should carry their medications and complete equipment with adapters. Parts cannot be found in pharmacies (voltage is 220 instead of 110 as in the U.S).

The following diseases are prevalent:

HIV/AIDS: 9.8 percent of female sex workers in Kinshasa are estimated to be HIV positive.

Vaccinations: Yellow Fever vaccine is required. Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for those who may have sexual contact, tattoos or require medical treatment.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Outside of Kinshasa and other main cities, most roads are not drivable, even with an off-road vehicle. Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season from October to May. Traffic safety is hazardous due to lack of infrastructure, poorly trained/disciplined drivers, inadequately maintained vehicles, and indifference among many drivers toward the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. When traveling outside Goma and Bukavu, you should travel in a convoy and avoid all travel after dark due to the threat of roadside hoodlums.

Traffic Laws: You will need an international driving permit to drive in the DRC. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited.

Accidents: In the event of an automobile accident, remain inside the vehicle and wait for police. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly.

Official motorcades pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians in Kinshasa.

  • Pull to the side of the road as far as possible and extinguish the vehicle’s headlights when sirens or security forces announce their presence.
  • Do not take photographs of motorcades.
  • Do not attempt to move until the entire motorcade has passed and proceed only when security forces permit it.
  • Failure to comply may result in arrest or vehicle damage with possible personal injury. 

Drivers should stop their cars and pedestrians should stand still when passing a government installation during the raising and lowering of the Congolese flag. This ceremony occurs daily at roughly 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Public Transportation: Avoid all travel by public transportation, and hire private transport from a reliable source. Any form of public transportation is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe. Mini-buses, buses, trains, and ferries are in poor mechanical condition and are often filled well beyond their intended capacity.

Few independent taxis are available in Kinshasa, and most do not meet U.S. safety standards.

Reputable car rental firms will include the services of a driver. Be particularly vigilant at airports where criminals have been known to use luggage tag information to present themselves as pre-arranged drivers.

Ferry: Ferry accidents are commonplace and often fatal. Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close completely with minimal notice. The ferry stops running in late afternoon, and there is no service on Sundays. A visa for the destination country (Republic of Congo or DRC) is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

The U.S. Embassy prohibits official travel by U.S. government employees and certain contractors on some airlines flying domestic routes in the DRC due to safety and maintenance concerns. This prohibition does not apply to international flights on foreign-owned-and-operated carriers. A list of airlines approved for use by U.S. Embassy personnel may be found on the U.S. Embassy Kinshasa’s Regional Specific Information page

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa

310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone: +(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151

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General Information

For information concerning travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.  

Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Bangladesh and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website:  travel.state.gov
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental child abduction is a crime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo according to the Law on Child Protection of 2009, Article 131.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.  Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

U.S. Department of State is not aware of any government agencies or non-governmental organizations that offer mediation programs. 

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

U.S. prospective adoptive parents are reminded of several key items to keep in mind when considering adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

  • The Congolese Office of Immigration must grant a special authorization permit for adopted children to depart the country. Adoptive parents are cautioned that, per the Department’s September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert, Congolese immigration authorities suspended issuance of exit permits to adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents. 
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa anticipates that case reviews will take approximately three to six months to complete after the Embassy receives a Form I-600 petition. Case reviews may take longer if children come from an area experiencing civil unrest, where the security situation impacts the ability of Embassy staff to travel, or if the investigation uncovers facts that require additional inquiries.
  • Congolese procedures require that adoptions are completed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although an adoption is finalized by the court, adoptive parents may not take their children out of the country until the Ministry of Gender and Family’s interministerial adoption committee issues the bordereaux letter approving/certifying the adoption.
  • The Tribunal pour Enfants in each region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds exclusive jurisdiction over intercountry adoptions. As reported in the Department’s July 16, 2013 Adoption Notice, Congolese immigration authorities will only issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if the adoption was completed prior to June 12, 2013. All adoptions completed on or after June 12, 2013, must be completed in the local Tribunal pour Enfants. Children from provinces that do not yet have this court must be adopted either in the Tribunal pour Enfants in Kinshasa or a neighboring city. Please see the Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration’s website (in French) for more details.

    Tribunaux pour Enfants exist in Kinshasa, Matadi (Bas-Congo), Kikwit (Bandundu), Goma (Nord-Kivu), and Lubumbashi (Katanga).

  • Prospective adoptive parents may be required to attend all Tribunal pour Enfants hearings related to their adoption in accordance with the requirements of the Congolese Family Code. The Department of State strongly encourages prospective adoptive families to comply with all elements of Congolese adoption law.
  • The application of Congolese law may not be consistent from court to court and various Ministries may have different perspectives concerning the legal basis for exceptions to legal requirements. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to consult an attorney about any questions regarding the application of Congolese law and cautioned that decisions by one Congolese government entity may not be supported or shared by others in the adoption process.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo must meet the following requirements:

  • Residency: None.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the intended adoptee and at least 18 years old to adopt a Congolese child. The Tribunal pour Enfants may waive the age requirement if a child is being adopted by his/her parent’s spouse. There is no age limit for adopting parents.
  • Marriage: Under Congolese law, adopting parents may be married, single, widowed, or divorced. Single, unmarried prospective adoptive parents may not adopt a child of the opposite sex unless the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo grants an exemption. However, while Congolese courts may grant adoptions to single, unmarried prospective adoptive parents, Congolese immigration authorities will no longer issue exit permits for children adopted by single, unmarried parents. Please see the September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert for more information.

    Couples must be married for at least five years before seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for couples married fewer than five years.

    Congolese law prohibits gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples from adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for gays, lesbians, or same-sex couples seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Income: Proof of employment and/or sufficient funds may be required.
  • Other: Any person who has a prior history of child abuse is not permitted to adopt a Congolese child. No adoptive parent may marry their adopted child. There are no specified medical ineligibilities for prospective adoptive parents.

    The Family Code states that no couple may adopt more than three children unless a subsequent prospective adoptee is the biological child of one of the parents. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for families seeking to adopt more than three children, even if the children are part of a family group.

    Additionally, prospective adoptive parents may not have more than two living children in the home when completing an adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo can waive this requirement for families with more than two living children already in the home.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

  • Relinquishment: Birth parents must give written consent (autorisation parentale) documenting their relinquishment of parental rights to the local commune’s Social Services office, which is supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs. This Social Services office is responsible for documenting the written consent and providing that documentation to the Tribunal pour Enfants when a family applies to the court to adopt a Congolese child.

    The Social Services office will also prepare documentation (Attestation d’Indigence) that the relinquishing birth parent does not have the means to care for the child. 

    The local Guardianship Council may decree that specific children are wards of the state following relinquishment to Social Services (PV Tutelage Report). The same Guardianship Council is then responsible for consenting, by decree, that a ward of the state is eligible for adoption. These decrees must be presented to the Tribunal pour Enfants as part of the child’s information following a match.

    Once the Guardianship Council declares that the children are wards of the state, Social Services must place them in orphanages or foster care. Social Services must present the placement to the Tribunal pour Enfants clerk for approval/confirmation within five days. The clerk’s approval grants the orphanage director or foster care supervisor the legal authority to match the child with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Abandonment: Local Social Services must provide a PV Tutelage Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat d'Abandon d'un Enfant) in all cases of abandonment, including an absence of parents due to loss, separation, death, desertion, or disappearance of the biological parents.

    The local Guardianship Council may decree that specific children are wards of the state following abandonment (PV Tutelage Report). The same Guardianship Council is then responsible for consenting, by decree, that a ward of the state is eligible for adoption. These decrees must be presented to the Tribunal pour Enfants as part of the child’s information following a match.

    Once the Guardianship Council declares that the children are wards of the state, Social Services must place them in orphanages or foster care. Social Services must present the placement to the Tribunal pour Enfants clerk for approval/confirmation within five days. The clerk’s approval grants the orphanage director or foster care supervisor the legal authority to match the child with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Congolese law does not limit prospective adoptees’ age. Adoptees fifteen years and older must consent to the adoption. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
  • Sibling Adoptions: None.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: None.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: None.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities

Ministry of Gender and Family
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration

The Process

The process for adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps: 

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
  3. Apply to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan  (Form I-600)
  6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

Before taking steps to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.

There are no adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, many U.S.-based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and U.S. immigration law.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47

3. Apply to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the central adoption authority or other authorized entity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be found eligible to adopt by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

Prospective adoptive parents should know that, in the case of children who are Wards of the State, the “Guardianship Council” of the local government must first release the child for adoption. 

4. Adopt the Child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The process for finalizing the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Adoption oversight responsibilities are shared between five ministries in the Congolese government that participate in enforcing adoption law and policies: 

    Ministry of Gender and Family: The Ministry of Gender and Family is the newest adoption authority for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Ministry is charged with the protection of minors and coordinates the creation of adoption policies. The Ministry also chairs committees that review prospective adoptive parents’ applications to adopt Congolese children. The Ministry of Gender and Family must also approve each adoption. Adoptive parents or their local representative may submit their case to the Ministry any time after the adoption decree (Acte d’Adoption) is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants, although the Ministry generally encourages applicants to submit their dossier as soon as possible. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue an exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country unless the Ministry has approved the adoption.

    Ministry of Justice:
     The Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoption court procedures. Individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides, or in the Tribunal pour Enfants in a neighboring jurisdiction or Kinshasa if a Tribunal pour Enfants does not exist in the region where the child resides. Congolese attorneys assisting with adoption cases should have current contacts at the appropriate courts.

    Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs:
     The Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with the role of protection of “vulnerable children,” and oversees communes and social workers throughout the country. The local “commune,” or township, and its Guardianship Council create a child’s abandonment or relinquishment document, when appropriate, designate a child as a Ward of the State, and temporarily assign the child to foster care or an orphanage. The temporary guardianship is valid for only five days unless confirmed by the local Tribunal pour Enfants clerk. The Ministry also oversees the local L’Etat Civil, which maintains each commune’s birth and adoption records.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for certifying whether an adopted child is eligible for a Congolese passport, and for the passport’s issuance.

    Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration: The Direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM) controls the departure of children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and seeks to prevent child trafficking. The DGM issues exit permits to children who qualify under local procedures to depart the country with their adoptive parents. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue the exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country without the Ministry of Gender and Family’s approval of the adoption. The DGM requires that both adoptive parents, if a child is adopted by a married couple, or the adoptive parent, if a child is adopted by a single individual, apply in person for the exit permit.
  • Role of the Court: The Tribunal pour Enfants in each region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds exclusive jurisdiction over intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that decrees issued by Tribunal de Paix will only be accepted if the area where the child resides does not yet have a Tribunal pour Enfants, and that the DGM will only issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if the adoption was completed prior to June 12, 2013.

    The Tribunal pour Enfants plays two roles in the adoption process. First, the Tribunal’s clerk must confirm a Guardianship Council’s temporary guardianship of a Ward of the State within five days of the child’s abandonment or relinquishment in order for a child to remain in the assigned orphanage or foster care home. Second, the Tribunal oversees the adoption process. The Tribunal pour Enfants requires consent to the adoption before granting a judgment. Biological parents, or appointed guardians, must give their consent, if applicable. If no family members or guardians are identified, the court will determine consent. Any child over the age of 15 must give his or her own consent.

    After the child’s family or guardian(s) consents to adoption, the prospective adoptive parents request a hearing in open court at the Tribunal pour Enfants in the area where the child resides. Prospective adoptive parents or their legal representative must submit copies of their birth certificates and the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee. The court will require proof that any and all interested family members of the child were informed of the adoption and received notice of the court hearing. After the initial hearing, the court conducts an investigation to determine that all conditions for placement or final adoption have been met and that all documents are legitimate.

    Once the investigation is completed and all requirements have been satisfied, the court will issue a Jugement d’Adoption, which authorizes the L’Etat Civil to issue an adoption decree (Acte d’Adoption) and updated birth certificate (Acte de Naissance). The adoption will be retroactively recorded under the date of the first court appearance. The adopted child's name on the judgment will incorporate his/her original name along with the newly adopted family name, but adoptive parents must ensure that the names on the local and U.S. documents match. At the time of adoption, the adoptive parent (in the case of minors) or the adoptee (if 18 years or older) may decide whether the child will retain his or her Congolese citizenship.

    The adoptive parents must also register the judgment at the local city hall or magistrate within one month or the adoption will be null and void. This is done either where the adoptive parents live (if they live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) or where the child resides (if the adoptive parents do not live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). At the end of the month, the magistrate will issue a “Certificate of Non-Appeal,” at which time the adoption is officially finalized under Congolese law.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; however, many U.S. based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.

    Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
    • Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
    • Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
    • Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
    • Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
    • Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
    • When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
  • Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents apply for permission to adopt by sending a letter to the Tribunal pour Enfantsin the region where the child resides. Postal delivery is generally not available, so a letter should be sent by messenger or delivered by hand by the prospective adoptive parents, their agency’s local representative, or their local attorney. There is no application form. The Tribunal pour Enfants Judge approves foreign prospective adoptive parents for adoption.

    Families also need to apply to the Ministry of Gender and Family for approval of an adoption after the adoption decree is issued. Because postal delivery is generally not available, the application should be sent by messenger or delivered by hand by the adoptive parents, their agency’s local representative, or their local attorney. There is no application form.
  • Time Frame: It can take from a minimum of three months to approximately one year to complete the adoption process from match proposal to filing the Certificate of Non-Appeal, although some cases can take considerably longer. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa estimates that it will take an additional three to six months to complete the case review and investigation once the Embassy receives the Form I-600 petition filed on behalf of a Congolese child. Please also see the Department’s September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert regarding the suspension of exit visas.
  • Adoption Fees:  Court fees for an adoption case generally range between $200 and $250, a birth certificate between $20 and $50, a passport $170, and lawyer fees between $5,000 and $6,000. Fees can be kept to a minimum if, prior to the first consultation, prospective adoptive parents or their local representatives secure required documents, such as birth, death, marriage, and relevant court records, on their own. In addition to these fees, prospective adoptive parents may be expected to pay for the care and feeding of their child after the adoption is finalized and before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued. Please note that there are no official fees or procedures to expedite cases established or authorized under Congolese law or practices. The UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
  • Documents Required: Prospective adoptive parents must submit copies of their own birth certificates, the birth certificate of the prospective adoptive child, police certificates from the prospective adoptive parents' place of residence, and attestations of good conduct from their city hall.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject.

5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan

After you finalize the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of anorphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S.Embassy in Kinshasa.

When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Kinshasa must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.

For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.

In addition to the required supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents filing the Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, for children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents with the petition:

  • Adoption judgment (Jugement d'Adoption): This is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the child’s area.
  • Act of Adoption, also known as the adoption decree (Acte d'Adoption). This is issued by the L’Etat Civil in the area where the child was born.
  • Certificate of Non-Appeal: This is issued by the Magistrate in the child’s area or the Magistrate in the area where the Tribunal pour Enfants is located.
  • Birth Certificate (Acte de Naissance): This is a birth registration that must be issued by the L’Etat Civil within 90 days of the child’s birth and which remains valid for the child’s lifetime. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa requires the actual birth certificate or an official copy (Copie Integrale d’Acte de Naissance) for immigrant visa processing.
  • Abandonment Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat D'Abandon d'un Enfant): The abandonment report is required if the child was abandoned by his/her biological parent(s). This report is completed by Social Services.
  • Parental Authorization (Autorisation Parentale): The Authorization Parental is required when a biological parent is directly relinquishing his/her child for adoption and emigration.
  • PV Tutelage Report: The PV Tutelage Report is the decree that documents that designates a child as a Ward of the State and eligible for adoption. This report is completed by the Guardianship Council where the child was born.
  • Ward of the State Document (Attestation de Placement du Pupille de l'Etat): This document is required if the local government terminated the parental rights of the biological parent(s).
  • Indigence Report (Attestation d'Indigence): The Indigence Report is often required when the adoptive child has known biological parent(s).
  • Death Certificate (Acte de Deces): The Death Certificate is required when the adoptive child’s biological parent(s) passed away. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa only accepts the legal death certificate produced by the local commune, not a hospital death certificate. 

6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate: If you have finalized the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

Congolese birth certificates may be obtained at the commune where the child was born. The price for Congolese birth certificates can range from $20 to $50 and takes up to five days to issue. The child may retain his or her own name; however, if the adoptive family wishes the child to acquire their name, the change can be ordered in the court’s Jugement d'Adoption. The Jugement can be provided to the commune as a basis for adoptive parents or their representative to seek an amended birth certificate.

Adoptive parents are advised that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa does not accept Attestation de Naissance documents for immigration purposes because the Attestation de Naissance is a report of birth used for administrative purposes. It has no juridical value and is only valid for three months. Adoptive parents, their local agency representatives, or their local attorneys should make sure they acquire one of the following accepted civil documents as proof of the adopted child’s birth:

  • The birth certificate (Acte de Naissance) or an official copy (Copie Integrale d’Acte de Naissance): Birth registrations that must be issued within 90 days of the birth and which remain valid for the child’s lifetime. 
  • If the Acte de Naissance was not issued within 90 days of the child’s birth, the applicant needs to get a Jugement Supplétif from the court having jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence. The Jugementwill help the applicant obtain a valid birth certificate. 
  • The replacement birth document (Extrait d'Acte de Naissance), which is issued when an Acte de Naissance was lost or stolen.

    If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Adoptive parents or their lawyers should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to apply for a Congolese passport for the adoptive child. The application and passport cost approximately $170 dollars. Passport issuance takes approximately two weeks.

U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa before making final travel arrangements.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

The Democratic Republic of the Congo does not have any post-adoption reporting requirements.

Post-Adoption Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

COMPLAINTS

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Kinshasa, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
310, Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa, Gombe
République Démocratique du Congo
Tel: +243 81 884-6623 (Mondays through Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m.) or +243-81-880-556-0151
Email: KinshasaAdoptions@state.gov 
Website: cd.usembassy.gov

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities
Direction Générale de Migration
65, Boulevard du 30 Juin
Commune de la Gombe
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D.Congo
Tel: + +243 81 682 77 82 or +243 99 994 27 67
Email: dgm@dgm.cd or dgmetatmajor@yahoo.fr
Internet: www.dgm.cd

Division of Urbaine des Affaires Sociale
33 Avenue Busudjano
Quartier Ancien Combattant
Commune de Kasavubu
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel: +243 99 873 5200 or +243 89 991 5933

Tribunal Pour Enfants – Kinshasa
Terrain Saint Therese
Quartier 5 Commune de N’Djili
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel : +243 81 065 21 23

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
1726 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 234-7690

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
B-2 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
B-1/B-2 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
C-1 $100 One 1 Month
C-1/D $100 One 1 Month
C-2 None One 1 Month
C-3 None One 1 Month
CW-1 None One 3 Months
CW-2 None One 3 Months
D $100 One 1 Month
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Two 3 Months
E-2C None Multiple 3 Months
F-1 $150 Multiple 1 Month
F-2 $150 Multiple 1 Month
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-1C $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-2A $250 N/A N/A3
H-2B $250 N/A N/A3
H-2R $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-4 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
I $250 Multiple 3 Months
J-1 4 $250 Multiple 3 Months
J-2 4 $250 Multiple 3 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months
L-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months
M-1 $150 Multiple 1 Month
M-2 $150 Multiple 1 Month
N-8 $150 One 3 Months
N-9 $150 One 3 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
O-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
O-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-4 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 3 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 3 Months
R-2 None Multiple 3 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Tiered Fee Schedule

    Fee Number
    of Applications
    Validity
    Period
    $250.00 Multiple 3 Months

 

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Note: All civil records, with the exception of the Extrait du Casier Judiciaire, must be requested from the appropriate office in the district in which the event (birth, marriage, death, etc.) took place.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

Available. Birth certificates, Actes de Naissance or Extraits d'Actes de Naissance, together with records of marriage and death, are maintained by the District Registrar (Officier de l'Etat Civil). Acte de Notoriété Supplétif à un Acte de Naissance is also an acceptable birth certificate when a person was born before August 1986 and when it is accompanied by a Ordonnance d'homologation à un Acte de Notoriété Supplétif à un Acte de Naissance. The first registers were inaugurated on January 7, l886. They do not include natives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo still living in tribal conditions.

Death/Burial

Extraits d'Actes de Deces or Actes de deces are available to the same extent and obtained from the same officials.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

Available. Extraits d'Actes de Mariage, Actes de Mariage, or Attestation de Marriage are available and are issued and legalized by the same officials and for a fee comparable to birth certificates. It should be noted that some natives still believe in, and practice polygamy, despite the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is officially a monogamous country.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Divorce

Available. Certificats de Divorce are obtained from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages for the district in which the marriage occurred.

If the marriage occurred elsewhere than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, proof of divorce may be furnished in the form of a certified copy of the Decree of Divorce issued by the Clerk (Greffier) of the Court in which the divorce was granted.

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. When requesting a police clearance, it is essential that the full name of the applicant's mother and father and their date and place of birth be included with the request. A penal record, Extrait du Casier Judiciaire, may be obtained from the Inspector General of the Criminal Police (Police Judiciaire) in Kinshasa. This document includes details of dates and courts of condemnation, nature of the offense and sentence imposed, and the possibility of deportation proceedings. It is signed on behalf of the Attorney General and bears the seal of the Attorney General or the office seal.

Court Records

Unavailable.

Prison Records

Available. Acte de Liberation is issued to all former prisoners upon their release, listing the crime for which they were convicted and the sentence imposed.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents


Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Kinshasa, Congo (Embassy)

Address:
U.S. Embassy, Kinshasa
310 Avenue des Aviateurs

Tel: (Consular Section) 243-88-43608, extension 2164/2376 or 243-88-46859 or 44609.

Fax: 243-88-00228, 43467 or 03276.

Visa Services

Embassy Kinshasa processes IVs, NIVs, Diversity Visas and Visas 92 and 93 for all of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 234-7690 (202) 234-2609 (202) 233-3377

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone
+(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency
+(243) 081-556-0151
Fax
No Fax
Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:


6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:


1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:


Yes, obtain in advance

VACCINATIONS:


Yellow fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:


5 million CDF ($5,400)

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:


Illegal to export CDF

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa

310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone: +(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151

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Destination Description

See our Fact Sheet on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for information on U.S. - Democratic Republic of the Congo relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Requirements for Entry:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • World Health Organization (WHO) card with yellow fever vaccination.

Visas:

Obtain your visa before traveling. Visit the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo website for the most current visa information. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese Embassy or Consulate.

Visa applicants must provide an invitation letter notarized in the DRC and approved at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kinshasa. Allow at least two to three weeks for visa processing.

The DRC does not recognize dual nationality. U.S. citizens should always present themselves as U.S. citizens to Congolese authorities. Otherwise, it may impede our ability to provide consular services.

Airport Fees

All departing international travelers must pay these official fees when checking in:

  • $50 airport exit fee
  • $5 boarding fee
  • Passengers on domestic flights pay $10.

If you experience harassment at any of port of entry, such as detention, passport confiscation or demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “fees,” ask to contact the U.S. Embassy.

Intending Residents

If you are planning to reside in the DRC, register at the office of the Direction General of Migration (DGM) in your commune of residence.

Journalists

Journalists working in the DRC must:

  • enter the DRC through Kinshasa
  • obtain a permit from the Ministry of Communication and Media (a $250 permit is valid for one month)

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the DRC.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

See the Department of State Travel Warning for the DRC.

The security situation in parts of eastern DRC remains unstable due to the activities of rebel and other armed groups and ongoing military operations. Sporadic but severe outbreaks of violence targeting civilians, including killing, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Ituri, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele provinces.

The kidnapping of humanitarian workers is on the rise as rebel groups look for supplemental means of income. More than 35 humanitarian workers were kidnapped and held for ransom in Eastern Congo in the first half of 2016. There was a series of kidnappings in North Kivu in the area around Goma in 2015 and 2016.

There is also continued potential for civil unrest in parts of Kinshasa and other major cities related to elections. On September 19 and 20, 2016 large-scale demonstrations erupted into violent clashes resulting in fatalities between demonstrators and security forces in Kinshasa and elsewhere in the country.

Safety Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and public gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent and turn deadly.
  • Monitor consular messages and local and international news from reliable sources. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.6 FM. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6:00 p.m., and provides updates throughout the day. In emergencies, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8.

Roadblocks: Both inside and around Kinshasa, security forces set up spontaneous roadblocks, especially after dark, to conduct vehicle searches and check passengers for identity papers. They may also solicit bribes. To protect yourself:

  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed at all times.
  • Do not permit soldiers or police officers to enter your vehicle, and do not get into the vehicle of anyone purporting to be a security official.
  • Remain inside your vehicle with doors locked and open the window slightly to communicate.
  • Carry color photocopies of your passport and other identity documents to give to security or police officials.
  • Remain courteous and calm and, if threatened, do not resist.
  • Report any incident to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa.

Crime:

Armed robberies, burglaries, and vehicle thefts occur throughout the country. Carjackings in the North Kivu area have resulted in deaths. Criminals may pose as law enforcement officials especially after nightfall. Avoid traveling throughout the eastern DRC after dark when robbery and banditry are common.

In Kinshasa, U.S. citizens continue to be the victims of serious crimes, including armed robbery. Be aware of vehicle theft and carjacking by armed gangs. Most criminal incidents involve crimes of opportunity, which include pick-pocketing and petty theft, often committed by gangs of homeless street children called “shegues” who can be aggressive and persistent.

  • Be vigilant, particularly on public transportation, in traffic jams, and areas surrounding hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and nightclubs.
  • In heavy traffic, be wary of shegues who may open car doors and steal belongings.
  • Avoid walking alone, especially after dark, and displaying cash and valuable personal property.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy.

Report crimes to the local police at +243 81-555-5944 and contact the U.S. Embassy at +243 97 261- 6145. Dial 112 to contact the police in an emergency in Kinshasa. This number eventually will be deployed throughout the DRC, but is currently only operative in the communes of Linguala and Gombe in Kinshasa.

Remember local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You may have difficulties at immigration if you are traveling with satellite phones, GPS receivers or military clothing. Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Exit Permits for Adopted Children: U.S. adoptive families of Congolese children are cautioned that attempting to circumvent the exit permit suspension could have severe consequences.

Photography: It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations, and along border areas. You could be fined, have your photographic equipment confiscated, or be detained or arrested. Do not take photos of Congolese without permission.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Phone Service: Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is unreliable and landlines are nearly non-existent. It may be possible to purchase a SIM card locally and use a U.S.-compatible cell phone.

Currency: The Congolese Franc is the currency of the DRC (CDF) but U.S. dollars are widely accepted in urban areas. Most vendors and banking institutions will accept only bills printed from 2010 or later. Bills must be crisp and in good condition; even those with minor stains or small tears may be rejected. One-dollar bills are rarely accepted.

Counterfeit currency is widely circulated. Examine U.S. bills before accepting them to ensure they are legitimate. Exchange currency only at reputable banks. 

Faith-Based Travelers: See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the DRC.

Individuals engaging in public displays of same-sex sexual conduct can be subject to prosecution under public indecency provisions nevertheless. Homosexuality remains a cultural taboo, and harassment by the state security forces occurs.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, communication, accommodations, and public buildings. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: Sexual assault is widespread and occurs largely in the conflict zones in North Kivu province, but also throughout the country by security forces, rebel and militia groups, and civilians, often during attacks on villages and sometimes as a tactic of war to punish civilians. Domestic violence is common. Although the law considers assault a crime there is no specific penalty for spousal abuse. Intervention by police or action by judicial authorities is rare. See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

Consult the CDC website for the Democratic Republic of the Congo prior to travel. There is currently a yellow fever epidemic in the country.

Medical facilities are severely limited. Medicines are in short supply. Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. All care providers expect payment in U.S. dollars in full before treatment is performed. Trusted facilities in Kinshasa are often membership based and require monthly payment for access to care.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

U.S. citizens die from malaria every year in the DRC. Use mosquito repellents containing at least 20 percent DEET. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Malaria chemoprophylaxis is strongly recommended prior to arriving in the DRC and for the duration of your stay.

Due to the high levels of air borne irritants, individuals with respiratory illnesses should carry their medications and complete equipment with adapters. Parts cannot be found in pharmacies (voltage is 220 instead of 110 as in the U.S).

The following diseases are prevalent:

HIV/AIDS: 9.8 percent of female sex workers in Kinshasa are estimated to be HIV positive.

Vaccinations: Yellow Fever vaccine is required. Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for those who may have sexual contact, tattoos or require medical treatment.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Outside of Kinshasa and other main cities, most roads are not drivable, even with an off-road vehicle. Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season from October to May. Traffic safety is hazardous due to lack of infrastructure, poorly trained/disciplined drivers, inadequately maintained vehicles, and indifference among many drivers toward the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. When traveling outside Goma and Bukavu, you should travel in a convoy and avoid all travel after dark due to the threat of roadside hoodlums.

Traffic Laws: You will need an international driving permit to drive in the DRC. Use of cell phones while driving is prohibited.

Accidents: In the event of an automobile accident, remain inside the vehicle and wait for police. If a hostile mob forms or you feel your safety is in danger, leave the scene and proceed directly to the nearest police station or gendarmerie to report the incident. Do not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly.

Official motorcades pose serious risks to drivers and pedestrians in Kinshasa.

  • Pull to the side of the road as far as possible and extinguish the vehicle’s headlights when sirens or security forces announce their presence.
  • Do not take photographs of motorcades.
  • Do not attempt to move until the entire motorcade has passed and proceed only when security forces permit it.
  • Failure to comply may result in arrest or vehicle damage with possible personal injury. 

Drivers should stop their cars and pedestrians should stand still when passing a government installation during the raising and lowering of the Congolese flag. This ceremony occurs daily at roughly 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Public Transportation: Avoid all travel by public transportation, and hire private transport from a reliable source. Any form of public transportation is unregulated, unreliable, and generally unsafe. Mini-buses, buses, trains, and ferries are in poor mechanical condition and are often filled well beyond their intended capacity.

Few independent taxis are available in Kinshasa, and most do not meet U.S. safety standards.

Reputable car rental firms will include the services of a driver. Be particularly vigilant at airports where criminals have been known to use luggage tag information to present themselves as pre-arranged drivers.

Ferry: Ferry accidents are commonplace and often fatal. Ferry service between Brazzaville and Kinshasa may close completely with minimal notice. The ferry stops running in late afternoon, and there is no service on Sundays. A visa for the destination country (Republic of Congo or DRC) is required to cross the Congo River between Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

The U.S. Embassy prohibits official travel by U.S. government employees and certain contractors on some airlines flying domestic routes in the DRC due to safety and maintenance concerns. This prohibition does not apply to international flights on foreign-owned-and-operated carriers. A list of airlines approved for use by U.S. Embassy personnel may be found on the U.S. Embassy Kinshasa’s Regional Specific Information page

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
No
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa

310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone: +(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(243) 081-556-0151

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General Information

For information concerning travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

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Hague Abduction Convention

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention), nor are there any bilateral agreements in force between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

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Return

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.  

Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in Bangladesh and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances. 

The Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues provides assistance in cases of international parental child abduction.  For U.S. citizen parents whose children have been wrongfully removed to or retained in countries that are not U.S. partners under the Hague Abduction Convention, the Office of Children’s Issues can provide information and resources about country-specific options for pursuing the return of or access to an abducted child.  The Office of Children’s Issues may also coordinate with appropriate foreign and U.S. government authorities about the welfare of abducted U.S. citizen children.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Website:  travel.state.gov
Email: AskCI@state.gov

Parental child abduction is a crime in the Democratic Republic of the Congo according to the Law on Child Protection of 2009, Article 131.

Parents may wish to consult with an attorney in the United States and in the country to which the child has been removed or retained to learn more about how filing criminal charges may impact a custody case in the foreign court.  Please see Pressing Criminal Charges for more information. 

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Visitation/Access

Legal systems and laws pertaining to custody, divorce, and parental abduction vary widely from country to country.  Parents are encouraged to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who can provide accurate legal guidance that is specific to their circumstances.

The Office of Children’s Issues may be able to assist parents seeking access to children who have been wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States.  Parents who are seeking access to children who were not wrongfully removed from or retained outside the United States should contact the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for information and possible assistance.

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Retaining an Attorney

Neither the Office of Children’s Issues nor consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or Consulates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are authorized to provide legal advice.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

U.S. Department of State is not aware of any government agencies or non-governmental organizations that offer mediation programs. 

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.  For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

U.S. prospective adoptive parents are reminded of several key items to keep in mind when considering adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

  • The Congolese Office of Immigration must grant a special authorization permit for adopted children to depart the country. Adoptive parents are cautioned that, per the Department’s September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert, Congolese immigration authorities suspended issuance of exit permits to adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents. 
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa anticipates that case reviews will take approximately three to six months to complete after the Embassy receives a Form I-600 petition. Case reviews may take longer if children come from an area experiencing civil unrest, where the security situation impacts the ability of Embassy staff to travel, or if the investigation uncovers facts that require additional inquiries.
  • Congolese procedures require that adoptions are completed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although an adoption is finalized by the court, adoptive parents may not take their children out of the country until the Ministry of Gender and Family’s interministerial adoption committee issues the bordereaux letter approving/certifying the adoption.
  • The Tribunal pour Enfants in each region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds exclusive jurisdiction over intercountry adoptions. As reported in the Department’s July 16, 2013 Adoption Notice, Congolese immigration authorities will only issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if the adoption was completed prior to June 12, 2013. All adoptions completed on or after June 12, 2013, must be completed in the local Tribunal pour Enfants. Children from provinces that do not yet have this court must be adopted either in the Tribunal pour Enfants in Kinshasa or a neighboring city. Please see the Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration’s website (in French) for more details.

    Tribunaux pour Enfants exist in Kinshasa, Matadi (Bas-Congo), Kikwit (Bandundu), Goma (Nord-Kivu), and Lubumbashi (Katanga).

  • Prospective adoptive parents may be required to attend all Tribunal pour Enfants hearings related to their adoption in accordance with the requirements of the Congolese Family Code. The Department of State strongly encourages prospective adoptive families to comply with all elements of Congolese adoption law.
  • The application of Congolese law may not be consistent from court to court and various Ministries may have different perspectives concerning the legal basis for exceptions to legal requirements. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to consult an attorney about any questions regarding the application of Congolese law and cautioned that decisions by one Congolese government entity may not be supported or shared by others in the adoption process.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo must meet the following requirements:

  • Residency: None.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the intended adoptee and at least 18 years old to adopt a Congolese child. The Tribunal pour Enfants may waive the age requirement if a child is being adopted by his/her parent’s spouse. There is no age limit for adopting parents.
  • Marriage: Under Congolese law, adopting parents may be married, single, widowed, or divorced. Single, unmarried prospective adoptive parents may not adopt a child of the opposite sex unless the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo grants an exemption. However, while Congolese courts may grant adoptions to single, unmarried prospective adoptive parents, Congolese immigration authorities will no longer issue exit permits for children adopted by single, unmarried parents. Please see the September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert for more information.

    Couples must be married for at least five years before seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for couples married fewer than five years.

    Congolese law prohibits gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples from adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for gays, lesbians, or same-sex couples seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Income: Proof of employment and/or sufficient funds may be required.
  • Other: Any person who has a prior history of child abuse is not permitted to adopt a Congolese child. No adoptive parent may marry their adopted child. There are no specified medical ineligibilities for prospective adoptive parents.

    The Family Code states that no couple may adopt more than three children unless a subsequent prospective adoptee is the biological child of one of the parents. The Congolese Family Code, Child Protection Act of 2009, and Adoption Guide do not authorize waivers for families seeking to adopt more than three children, even if the children are part of a family group.

    Additionally, prospective adoptive parents may not have more than two living children in the home when completing an adoption from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo can waive this requirement for families with more than two living children already in the home.
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Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

  • Relinquishment: Birth parents must give written consent (autorisation parentale) documenting their relinquishment of parental rights to the local commune’s Social Services office, which is supervised by the Ministry of Social Affairs. This Social Services office is responsible for documenting the written consent and providing that documentation to the Tribunal pour Enfants when a family applies to the court to adopt a Congolese child.

    The Social Services office will also prepare documentation (Attestation d’Indigence) that the relinquishing birth parent does not have the means to care for the child. 

    The local Guardianship Council may decree that specific children are wards of the state following relinquishment to Social Services (PV Tutelage Report). The same Guardianship Council is then responsible for consenting, by decree, that a ward of the state is eligible for adoption. These decrees must be presented to the Tribunal pour Enfants as part of the child’s information following a match.

    Once the Guardianship Council declares that the children are wards of the state, Social Services must place them in orphanages or foster care. Social Services must present the placement to the Tribunal pour Enfants clerk for approval/confirmation within five days. The clerk’s approval grants the orphanage director or foster care supervisor the legal authority to match the child with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Abandonment: Local Social Services must provide a PV Tutelage Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat d'Abandon d'un Enfant) in all cases of abandonment, including an absence of parents due to loss, separation, death, desertion, or disappearance of the biological parents.

    The local Guardianship Council may decree that specific children are wards of the state following abandonment (PV Tutelage Report). The same Guardianship Council is then responsible for consenting, by decree, that a ward of the state is eligible for adoption. These decrees must be presented to the Tribunal pour Enfants as part of the child’s information following a match.

    Once the Guardianship Council declares that the children are wards of the state, Social Services must place them in orphanages or foster care. Social Services must present the placement to the Tribunal pour Enfants clerk for approval/confirmation within five days. The clerk’s approval grants the orphanage director or foster care supervisor the legal authority to match the child with prospective adoptive parents.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Congolese law does not limit prospective adoptees’ age. Adoptees fifteen years and older must consent to the adoption. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
  • Sibling Adoptions: None.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: None.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: None.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities

Ministry of Gender and Family
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration

The Process

The process for adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps: 

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
  3. Apply to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan  (Form I-600)
  6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

Before taking steps to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.

There are no adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, many U.S.-based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and U.S. immigration law.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47

3. Apply to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the central adoption authority or other authorized entity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be found eligible to adopt by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

Prospective adoptive parents should know that, in the case of children who are Wards of the State, the “Guardianship Council” of the local government must first release the child for adoption. 

4. Adopt the Child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The process for finalizing the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Adoption oversight responsibilities are shared between five ministries in the Congolese government that participate in enforcing adoption law and policies: 

    Ministry of Gender and Family: The Ministry of Gender and Family is the newest adoption authority for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Ministry is charged with the protection of minors and coordinates the creation of adoption policies. The Ministry also chairs committees that review prospective adoptive parents’ applications to adopt Congolese children. The Ministry of Gender and Family must also approve each adoption. Adoptive parents or their local representative may submit their case to the Ministry any time after the adoption decree (Acte d’Adoption) is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants, although the Ministry generally encourages applicants to submit their dossier as soon as possible. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue an exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country unless the Ministry has approved the adoption.

    Ministry of Justice:
     The Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over adoption court procedures. Individual cases are handled by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the region where a prospective adoptive child resides, or in the Tribunal pour Enfants in a neighboring jurisdiction or Kinshasa if a Tribunal pour Enfants does not exist in the region where the child resides. Congolese attorneys assisting with adoption cases should have current contacts at the appropriate courts.

    Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs:
     The Ministry of Social Affairs is charged with the role of protection of “vulnerable children,” and oversees communes and social workers throughout the country. The local “commune,” or township, and its Guardianship Council create a child’s abandonment or relinquishment document, when appropriate, designate a child as a Ward of the State, and temporarily assign the child to foster care or an orphanage. The temporary guardianship is valid for only five days unless confirmed by the local Tribunal pour Enfants clerk. The Ministry also oversees the local L’Etat Civil, which maintains each commune’s birth and adoption records.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for certifying whether an adopted child is eligible for a Congolese passport, and for the passport’s issuance.

    Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration: The Direction Generale d’Immigration (DGM) controls the departure of children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and seeks to prevent child trafficking. The DGM issues exit permits to children who qualify under local procedures to depart the country with their adoptive parents. Congolese immigration authorities will not issue the exit permit to allow the adopted child to depart the country without the Ministry of Gender and Family’s approval of the adoption. The DGM requires that both adoptive parents, if a child is adopted by a married couple, or the adoptive parent, if a child is adopted by a single individual, apply in person for the exit permit.
  • Role of the Court: The Tribunal pour Enfants in each region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds exclusive jurisdiction over intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that decrees issued by Tribunal de Paix will only be accepted if the area where the child resides does not yet have a Tribunal pour Enfants, and that the DGM will only issue exit permits to children adopted in Tribunal de Paix if the adoption was completed prior to June 12, 2013.

    The Tribunal pour Enfants plays two roles in the adoption process. First, the Tribunal’s clerk must confirm a Guardianship Council’s temporary guardianship of a Ward of the State within five days of the child’s abandonment or relinquishment in order for a child to remain in the assigned orphanage or foster care home. Second, the Tribunal oversees the adoption process. The Tribunal pour Enfants requires consent to the adoption before granting a judgment. Biological parents, or appointed guardians, must give their consent, if applicable. If no family members or guardians are identified, the court will determine consent. Any child over the age of 15 must give his or her own consent.

    After the child’s family or guardian(s) consents to adoption, the prospective adoptive parents request a hearing in open court at the Tribunal pour Enfants in the area where the child resides. Prospective adoptive parents or their legal representative must submit copies of their birth certificates and the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee. The court will require proof that any and all interested family members of the child were informed of the adoption and received notice of the court hearing. After the initial hearing, the court conducts an investigation to determine that all conditions for placement or final adoption have been met and that all documents are legitimate.

    Once the investigation is completed and all requirements have been satisfied, the court will issue a Jugement d’Adoption, which authorizes the L’Etat Civil to issue an adoption decree (Acte d’Adoption) and updated birth certificate (Acte de Naissance). The adoption will be retroactively recorded under the date of the first court appearance. The adopted child's name on the judgment will incorporate his/her original name along with the newly adopted family name, but adoptive parents must ensure that the names on the local and U.S. documents match. At the time of adoption, the adoptive parent (in the case of minors) or the adoptee (if 18 years or older) may decide whether the child will retain his or her Congolese citizenship.

    The adoptive parents must also register the judgment at the local city hall or magistrate within one month or the adoption will be null and void. This is done either where the adoptive parents live (if they live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) or where the child resides (if the adoptive parents do not live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo). At the end of the month, the magistrate will issue a “Certificate of Non-Appeal,” at which time the adoption is officially finalized under Congolese law.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; however, many U.S. based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.

    Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
    • Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
    • Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
    • Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
    • Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
    • Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
    • When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
  • Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents apply for permission to adopt by sending a letter to the Tribunal pour Enfantsin the region where the child resides. Postal delivery is generally not available, so a letter should be sent by messenger or delivered by hand by the prospective adoptive parents, their agency’s local representative, or their local attorney. There is no application form. The Tribunal pour Enfants Judge approves foreign prospective adoptive parents for adoption.

    Families also need to apply to the Ministry of Gender and Family for approval of an adoption after the adoption decree is issued. Because postal delivery is generally not available, the application should be sent by messenger or delivered by hand by the adoptive parents, their agency’s local representative, or their local attorney. There is no application form.
  • Time Frame: It can take from a minimum of three months to approximately one year to complete the adoption process from match proposal to filing the Certificate of Non-Appeal, although some cases can take considerably longer. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa estimates that it will take an additional three to six months to complete the case review and investigation once the Embassy receives the Form I-600 petition filed on behalf of a Congolese child. Please also see the Department’s September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert regarding the suspension of exit visas.
  • Adoption Fees:  Court fees for an adoption case generally range between $200 and $250, a birth certificate between $20 and $50, a passport $170, and lawyer fees between $5,000 and $6,000. Fees can be kept to a minimum if, prior to the first consultation, prospective adoptive parents or their local representatives secure required documents, such as birth, death, marriage, and relevant court records, on their own. In addition to these fees, prospective adoptive parents may be expected to pay for the care and feeding of their child after the adoption is finalized and before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued. Please note that there are no official fees or procedures to expedite cases established or authorized under Congolese law or practices. The UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry.  Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
  • Documents Required: Prospective adoptive parents must submit copies of their own birth certificates, the birth certificate of the prospective adoptive child, police certificates from the prospective adoptive parents' place of residence, and attestations of good conduct from their city hall.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject.

5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan

After you finalize the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of anorphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.

If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S.Embassy in Kinshasa.

When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Kinshasa must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.

For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.

In addition to the required supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents filing the Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, for children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents with the petition:

  • Adoption judgment (Jugement d'Adoption): This is issued by the Tribunal pour Enfants in the child’s area.
  • Act of Adoption, also known as the adoption decree (Acte d'Adoption). This is issued by the L’Etat Civil in the area where the child was born.
  • Certificate of Non-Appeal: This is issued by the Magistrate in the child’s area or the Magistrate in the area where the Tribunal pour Enfants is located.
  • Birth Certificate (Acte de Naissance): This is a birth registration that must be issued by the L’Etat Civil within 90 days of the child’s birth and which remains valid for the child’s lifetime. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa requires the actual birth certificate or an official copy (Copie Integrale d’Acte de Naissance) for immigrant visa processing.
  • Abandonment Report (Proces-Verbal de Constat D'Abandon d'un Enfant): The abandonment report is required if the child was abandoned by his/her biological parent(s). This report is completed by Social Services.
  • Parental Authorization (Autorisation Parentale): The Authorization Parental is required when a biological parent is directly relinquishing his/her child for adoption and emigration.
  • PV Tutelage Report: The PV Tutelage Report is the decree that documents that designates a child as a Ward of the State and eligible for adoption. This report is completed by the Guardianship Council where the child was born.
  • Ward of the State Document (Attestation de Placement du Pupille de l'Etat): This document is required if the local government terminated the parental rights of the biological parent(s).
  • Indigence Report (Attestation d'Indigence): The Indigence Report is often required when the adoptive child has known biological parent(s).
  • Death Certificate (Acte de Deces): The Death Certificate is required when the adoptive child’s biological parent(s) passed away. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa only accepts the legal death certificate produced by the local commune, not a hospital death certificate. 

6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate: If you have finalized the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

Congolese birth certificates may be obtained at the commune where the child was born. The price for Congolese birth certificates can range from $20 to $50 and takes up to five days to issue. The child may retain his or her own name; however, if the adoptive family wishes the child to acquire their name, the change can be ordered in the court’s Jugement d'Adoption. The Jugement can be provided to the commune as a basis for adoptive parents or their representative to seek an amended birth certificate.

Adoptive parents are advised that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa does not accept Attestation de Naissance documents for immigration purposes because the Attestation de Naissance is a report of birth used for administrative purposes. It has no juridical value and is only valid for three months. Adoptive parents, their local agency representatives, or their local attorneys should make sure they acquire one of the following accepted civil documents as proof of the adopted child’s birth:

  • The birth certificate (Acte de Naissance) or an official copy (Copie Integrale d’Acte de Naissance): Birth registrations that must be issued within 90 days of the birth and which remain valid for the child’s lifetime. 
  • If the Acte de Naissance was not issued within 90 days of the child’s birth, the applicant needs to get a Jugement Supplétif from the court having jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence. The Jugementwill help the applicant obtain a valid birth certificate. 
  • The replacement birth document (Extrait d'Acte de Naissance), which is issued when an Acte de Naissance was lost or stolen.

    If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Adoptive parents or their lawyers should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to apply for a Congolese passport for the adoptive child. The application and passport cost approximately $170 dollars. Passport issuance takes approximately two weeks.

U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.

Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa before making final travel arrangements.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

The Democratic Republic of the Congo does not have any post-adoption reporting requirements.

Post-Adoption Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

COMPLAINTS

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Kinshasa, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
310, Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa, Gombe
République Démocratique du Congo
Tel: +243 81 884-6623 (Mondays through Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m.) or +243-81-880-556-0151
Email: KinshasaAdoptions@state.gov 
Website: cd.usembassy.gov

The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities
Direction Générale de Migration
65, Boulevard du 30 Juin
Commune de la Gombe
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D.Congo
Tel: + +243 81 682 77 82 or +243 99 994 27 67
Email: dgm@dgm.cd or dgmetatmajor@yahoo.fr
Internet: www.dgm.cd

Division of Urbaine des Affaires Sociale
33 Avenue Busudjano
Quartier Ancien Combattant
Commune de Kasavubu
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel: +243 99 873 5200 or +243 89 991 5933

Tribunal Pour Enfants – Kinshasa
Terrain Saint Therese
Quartier 5 Commune de N’Djili
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel : +243 81 065 21 23

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
1726 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 234-7690

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 24 Months
A-2 None Multiple 24 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
B-2 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
B-1/B-2 $150 A Multiple A 1 Month A
C-1 $100 One 1 Month
C-1/D $100 One 1 Month
C-2 None One 1 Month
C-3 None One 1 Month
CW-1 None One 3 Months
CW-2 None One 3 Months
D $100 One 1 Month
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Two 3 Months
E-2C None Multiple 3 Months
F-1 $150 Multiple 1 Month
F-2 $150 Multiple 1 Month
G-1 None Multiple 24 Months
G-2 None Multiple 24 Months
G-3 None Multiple 24 Months
G-4 None Multiple 24 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-1C $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-2A $250 N/A N/A3
H-2B $250 N/A N/A3
H-2R $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
H-4 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
I $250 Multiple 3 Months
J-1 4 $250 Multiple 3 Months
J-2 4 $250 Multiple 3 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months
L-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months
M-1 $150 Multiple 1 Month
M-2 $150 Multiple 1 Month
N-8 $150 One 3 Months
N-9 $150 One 3 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
O-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
O-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-1 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-2 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-3 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
P-4 $250 Multiple 3 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 3 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 3 Months
R-2 None Multiple 3 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Tiered Fee Schedule

    Fee Number
    of Applications
    Validity
    Period
    $250.00 Multiple 3 Months

 

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Note: All civil records, with the exception of the Extrait du Casier Judiciaire, must be requested from the appropriate office in the district in which the event (birth, marriage, death, etc.) took place.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

Available. Birth certificates, Actes de Naissance or Extraits d'Actes de Naissance, together with records of marriage and death, are maintained by the District Registrar (Officier de l'Etat Civil). Acte de Notoriété Supplétif à un Acte de Naissance is also an acceptable birth certificate when a person was born before August 1986 and when it is accompanied by a Ordonnance d'homologation à un Acte de Notoriété Supplétif à un Acte de Naissance. The first registers were inaugurated on January 7, l886. They do not include natives of the Democratic Republic of the Congo still living in tribal conditions.

Death/Burial

Extraits d'Actes de Deces or Actes de deces are available to the same extent and obtained from the same officials.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage

Available. Extraits d'Actes de Mariage, Actes de Mariage, or Attestation de Marriage are available and are issued and legalized by the same officials and for a fee comparable to birth certificates. It should be noted that some natives still believe in, and practice polygamy, despite the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is officially a monogamous country.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Divorce

Available. Certificats de Divorce are obtained from the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages for the district in which the marriage occurred.

If the marriage occurred elsewhere than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, proof of divorce may be furnished in the form of a certified copy of the Decree of Divorce issued by the Clerk (Greffier) of the Court in which the divorce was granted.

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. When requesting a police clearance, it is essential that the full name of the applicant's mother and father and their date and place of birth be included with the request. A penal record, Extrait du Casier Judiciaire, may be obtained from the Inspector General of the Criminal Police (Police Judiciaire) in Kinshasa. This document includes details of dates and courts of condemnation, nature of the offense and sentence imposed, and the possibility of deportation proceedings. It is signed on behalf of the Attorney General and bears the seal of the Attorney General or the office seal.

Court Records

Unavailable.

Prison Records

Available. Acte de Liberation is issued to all former prisoners upon their release, listing the crime for which they were convicted and the sentence imposed.

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents


Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Kinshasa, Congo (Embassy)

Address:
U.S. Embassy, Kinshasa
310 Avenue des Aviateurs

Tel: (Consular Section) 243-88-43608, extension 2164/2376 or 243-88-46859 or 44609.

Fax: 243-88-00228, 43467 or 03276.

Visa Services

Embassy Kinshasa processes IVs, NIVs, Diversity Visas and Visas 92 and 93 for all of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 234-7690 (202) 234-2609 (202) 233-3377

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Kinshasa
310 Avenue des Aviateurs
Kinshasa/Gombe
Telephone
+(243) 97-261-6145 (Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency
+(243) 081-556-0151
Fax
No Fax
Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) Country Map

Learn about a country
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.