Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Dominican Republic Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime.
Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic. The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo. The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to the Dominican Republic:
Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with updates to information on crime.
The Dominican Republic is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between the Dominican Republic and the United States must meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Dominican adoption law is governed by the Dominican Code of Fundamental Protection and Rights for Children and Adolescents, Law 136-03, Articles 82-169. The adoption process is comprised of an administrative and judicial phase. The Dominican authorities will not allow a child to exit the country until the adoption is complete under Dominican law.
The Dominican Central Authority (CONANI) is responsible for the administrative phase of an international adoption. The Dominican judiciary in the Court of Children and Adolescents, responsible for the child's physical locality, completes the judicial phase.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Dominican Republic you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to 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 a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
Adoption between the United States and the Dominican Republic is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from the Dominican Republic, the adopting family must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements, the Dominican Republic also has the following requirements:
Because the Dominican Republic is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from the Dominican Republic must meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Hague Adoption Convention requires that the Dominican Republic attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to the Dominican Republic's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for the adopting family to bring him or her back to the United States.
Learn more about the Convention's requirements for adoptable children.
Dominican Republic Adoption Central Authority
Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI), http://www.conani.gov.do/
Because the Dominican Republic is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from the Dominican Republic must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Hague Adoption Convention process is given below. The PAP (s) must complete these steps in the following order so that the adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If a full and final adoption was completed in the Dominican Republic or filed an I-600a with USCIS before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply. The adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
The first step in adopting a child from the Dominican Republic is to select an adoption service provider (ASP) in the United States that is accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and the Dominican Republic. Note that an ASP will be obligatory for certain parts of the adoption process. Learn more.
After choosing an accredited adoption service provider, PAPs apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Benefits Center. Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that the PAPs are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, the representative ASP will forward this information to CONANI. CONANI will review the application to determine whether the PAPs are also eligible to adopt under Dominican Republic's law.
If both the United States and the Dominican Republic determine that the PAPs are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, CONANI may provide the PAP with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
If CONANI is satisfied with the documentation submitted by the PAPs, the PAPs are then placed on a waiting list for assignment of a child. If PAPs are applying for the adoption of a child known to them and prior coexistence can be demonstrated both apparent and uninterrupted, then the case continues through the rest of the process without joining the waiting list.
DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must meet the documentary requirements of Dominican law (see below). Once all the required documents are complete, the PAP(s) must submit the original along with two set of copies to the Department of Adoptions of CONANI.
After the match is suggested, the family will need to file an I-800 petition for the child with the National Benefits Center (NBC) of the USCIS. CONANI will then need confirmation that the NBC provisionally approved the I-800 petition for the matching process to be complete
THE WAITING LIST:
After PAPs accept a match with a child, they then apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
Once approved, the child's file will be transferred electronically to the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. A staff member of the U.S. Embassy will contact the PAPs or their ASP to ask for a completed visa application and two photographs of the child. Once received, a Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.
If the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he or she will send a letter (an "Article 5 Letter") to CONANI. PAPs are cautioned not to adopt or obtain custody of a child before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Role of the Dominican Court of Minors (the Court): Dominican adoption law is governed by the Dominican Code of Fundamental Protection and Rights for Children and Adolescents, Law 136-03, Articles 111-167. The Dominican Court of Minors receives the formal, legal application for adoption. If the application is approved, the Court issues a Final Order of Adoption.
Role of Adoption Service Providers: The adoption service provider (ASP) forwards the prospective adoptive parents' application to CONANI. The ASP also is responsible for obtaining further permissions from the U.S. and Dominican authorities as well as ensuring that the PAPs are fully versed in the remaining procedures to be completed.
Time Frame: An adoption can be completed within nine to ten months of U.S. and Dominican requirements being met. It should be noted that many variables can affect the total time it takes to complete the intercountry adoption of a Dominican child.
Adoption Application: The prospective adoptive parents initiate contact with CONANI (via their attorney) and begin the process of locating a child who meets the definition of "Convention adoptee" under both Dominican and U.S. law.
Adoption Fees: Attorney fees for the adoption of a Dominican child range from $5,000 to $8,000 USD. All adoption-related expenses, including court costs and document fees, are included in this estimate. These expenses should have been itemized in the fees and estimated expenses section of the adoption services contract. Learn more about adoption service provider responsibilities.
SOCIALIZATION: If the PAPs accept the child placement, then the socialization period begins. This is the first contact between the child and prospective adoptive parents.
THE JUDICIAL PROCESS:
NOTE: In Dominican Republic, the Law of Minors and Adolescents 136-03 states that only after completing an official adoption can a child be taken out of Dominican Republic for purposes of international adoptions. Thus, PAPs must complete the full and final adoption in Dominican courts before the child can be taken to the United States. In essence, there is no such thing as an IH4/IR4 visa for Dominican Republic. While guardianship exists for domestic purposes, it does not exist for intercountry adoptions.
CONTACTS: For more information or guidance on the process of Adoption in Dominican Republic, please contact the Department of Adoptions CONANI (see at bottom of page).
In the adoption services contract that PAPs sign at the beginning of the adoption process, the ASP shall itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to the adoption process.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If PAPs are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
Dominican Law requires adoptive parents to first apply for a new birth certificate for their child, so that they can later apply for a passport. The adoptive parents' names will be added to the new birth certificate.
How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in the Dominican Republic
An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a Passport from the Dominican Republic.
How to obtain a Passport for the child in the Dominican Republic
Please visit this link to learn more http://pasaportes.gov.do/2009/07/pasaportes-por-primera-vez-para-adultos-y-menores/.
U.S. Immigrant Visa:
Before adoptive parents come in for a final visa interview, they need to have obtained a new birth certificate and passport for their child as well as have completed the co-residency requirements under Dominican law. Once adoptive parents are ready, they may contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo at CONSULARSANTOD2@state.gov.
Adoptive parents will be given an open appointment via email to come to the Consular Section at their convenience during normal working hours to complete the visa interview. However, the visa cannot be issued until a U.S. Embassy designated panel physician completes a medical examination of the child. Once the final medical report is obtained from the panel physician, the adoptive parents and the child may come in with an open appointment letter for the visa interview.
On the day of the interview, adoptive parents will present their appointment letter to the guards outside the Consular Section who will direct them inside. Once inside, adoptive parents may proceed to Window 15 to inquire about an adoption visa interview for the day. The Embassy employee will ask for the SDO case number and the child's name in order to locate the file. The employee may ask for some additional documentation, including the final medical report, and payment of the Immigrant Visa Interview Fee at the Cashier. If the child is over 14 years of age, then s/he will be sent to be fingerprinted. Otherwise, after taking in all necessary documents, adoptive parents will be given a unique number that will be called when it is time for the interview. Until the number is called, the U.S. Embassy requests that families have a seat in the waiting area.
At the interview, the officer may ask questions regarding the entire adoption process on both the U.S. and Dominican procedures. If there are any questions, recommendations, suggestions, etc. adoptive families are free to provide these to the officer at this time. Assuming that everything is fine, the officer will approve the visa, finally approve the I-800 form, and send the file for printing the visa and the Hague Adoption Certificate. Again, families are asked to wait in the waiting area again for the visa to be prepared and printed.
Once printed, families will again be called to Window 15 by name or by the case number and will be given the child's passport with a visa inside and a manila envelope known as the Visa Packet. DO NOT OPEN THIS PACKET, as it is for the U.S. immigration officials to open once the family enters the United States. The family is now free to travel home.
TWO ITEMS TO REMEMBER: 1) DO NOT OPEN THE PACKET AT ANY TIME, and 2) Please allow enough time to go through secondary at the first Port of Entry into the United States. The family will be asked to go into secondary for the Immigration Officer to open the packet and process the documents inside. If families do not allow sufficient time for this, they may miss onward travel plans.
CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s admission 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 if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including that the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for a U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required for American citizens to enter and leave the Dominican Republic. 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 Passport Application Wizard will help the applicant determine which passport form is needed, complete the form online, estimate the payment, and generate the form to print-all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, the family will also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows an individual to visit. Where required, visas are attached to the passport and allow entry into a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for the Dominican Republic, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before traveling, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage United States Citizens to register their trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact the individual if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in the Dominican Republic, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching a United States Citizen.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does the Dominican Republic require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
POST-ADOPTION / POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
CONANI requires post adoption reports to be submitted by the ASP for 5 years after the child has entered the United States; the first report must be submitted 6 months after the child entered the US, the second report after the first year, then once a year for the next 5 years. The reports are to be submitted to the closest Embassy or Consulate of the Dominican Republic to the residence of the child in the United States.
Adoptive parent are reminded that they are required by law and international treaty to complete all post-adoption reporting requirements in a timely manner. The ASP is required to assist families as well.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents. Adoption Services Support Groups for Adopting Persons
U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic
IV Unit (Adoptions)
Unit 3470, Box 531
APO AA 34041-0531
The mailing address if you use a private delivery service is:
Embassy of the United States of America
César Nicolás Penson 85A esq. Leopoldo Navarro
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic's Central Authority
Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (CONANI)
Av. Máximo Gómez esq. República de Paraguay # 154
Ensanche La Fe (Frente a la Bomba Esso)
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
Tel: 809-567-2233 (Office of Adoptions, ext. 1157)
Embassy of the Dominican Republic
1715 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 332-6280
Fax: (202) 265-8057
Consulate of the Dominican Republic
1501 New Broadway Ave., Suite 410
New York, NY 10036
Tel: (212) 768-2480
Fax: (212) 768-2677
Note: the Dominican Republic also has consulates in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, New York, and Puerto Rico.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax: 1- 913-214-5808
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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