Exercise normal precautions in Switzerland.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Switzerland:
Switzerland 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 Switzerland and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and the U.S. law implements the Convention.
Switzerland is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. Few Swiss born children are eligible for adoption. Additionally, the demand for adopted children among Swiss citizens is typically high with a long waiting list of Swiss prospective adoptive parents. Most intercountry adoptions in Switzerland are by legal residents of Switzerland who adopt in third countries. The majority of adoptions pursued successfully by American citizens through the Swiss government involve U.S. nationals residing legally in Switzerland who choose to adopt from a third country.
While legally possible, intercountry adoption of a Swiss orphan by foreigners is unlikely. No Swiss orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Switzerland, including adoptions of Swiss children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Switzerland.
NOTE: For Americans living in Switzerland who plan to adopt from third countries, it is advisable to adopt a child from a country that is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Non-Hague Convention adoptions are not recognized by the Swiss Government. If the adoption does originate in a country which is not party to the Hague Convention, the child will arrive in Switzerland as a "Pflegekind" (foster child), not as an officially adopted family member. After one year, the official adoption procedure of the "Pflegekind" foster child can begin according to Swiss law. Prospective adoptive parents should contact legal counsel or the CCA to get proper information before they start an adoption procedure.
Adoption between the United States and Switzerland is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. In order for an American applicant to adopt a child from Switzerland, within the framework of the Hague Adoption Convention, a determination of eligibility must first be made 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). Read more on Who Can Adopt.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Switzerland also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Because Switzerland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Switzerland must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be considered eligible for adoption. For example; the Convention requires that Switzerland attempt to place a child with a family in Switzerland before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Switzerland's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for a prospective adopter to bring him or her back to the United States.
WARNING: Switzerland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Switzerland before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.” Read on for more information.
The Government office responsible for adoptions in Switzerland is the Municipality (Gemeinde/Commune/Comuni) and/or the local Guardianship Board. The physical location of a prospective adopter directly affects which local governing authority will process their application. Each of the 26 Cantons in Switzerland now has a Central Authority. In order to determine which authority is most relevant, the prospective adopting parents or individual should contact the Cantonal Central Authority (CCA). A list of approved agencies is available from the Embassy or on the Internet at www.bj.admin.ch.
As Switzerland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, Switzerland must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. The requirements outlined in the Treaty must be followed to successfully prosecute an adoption from within Switzerland.
NOTE: The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Switzerland, including adoptions of Swiss children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Switzerland.
If determination of eligibility are issued by both governments to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Switzerland may provide you 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.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Switzerland generally includes the following:
If an American citizen living in Switzerland is attempting to adopt a child from a third country, the documentary requirements of the child's country of origin have to be taken into consideration, possibly including psychological analysis, a medical report that may need to include certain tests such as HIV, sterility tests, and any other medical tests required by the country of origin.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. Read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
In the case of an intercountry adoption by Americans from a third country, the time frame depends very much upon the country of origin of the adoptive child.
Bring Your Child Home Once an adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, an applicant has to apply for three documents for the child before he or she can travel to the United States:
If the adoption took place in the U.S. or in a country that is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention, the adoptive parents will receive a "Certificate of Conformity of Intercountry Adoption - According to Art. 23 of the Hague Convention of 29 July 1993. The Registry office (Zivilstandsamt/Service de l'etat civil/Servizio dello stato civile ) of the municipality where the parents and adoptive child are registered is the authority responsible for the issuance of the Swiss birth certificate.
An adoption from a non-Hague country is more complicated. The adoptive parents will have a waiting period of one year as the child will have entered Switzerland as a foster child with a passport and the original papers from the country of origin. After one year the adoption procedure can be processed and finalized under Swiss law.
It is advisable to communicate with the Swiss Registry office to seek advice.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Switzerland.
The first step is to go to the population office in the municipality where one resides and is registered. In Switzerland everyone is registered at the population office in the municipality where they live. Swiss law stipulates that anyone who wishes to obtain an identity document must appear in person (including children and infants) at the commune of residence/population office in Switzerland. It would be advisable to contact this office first to ascertain which documents must be presented. The second step is for parents or the individual to go with the adoptive child to the Cantonal passport office. There is a passport office in each of the 26 Cantons of Switzerland. After January 1, 2003 only new passports will be issued. Each applicant will receive his or her own travel document. Children can no longer be included in the parents' passports. There is a link of all the coordinates of the passport offices which can be found on the following website: www.schweizerpass.admin.ch
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination
For adoptions finalized abroad : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*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.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Switzerland. 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 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.
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Switzerland, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Before you travel, it's 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.
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Switzerland, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Switzerland require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
There are no post-adoption reporting requirements in Switzerland.
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 to your family -- 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 contacts.
U.S. Embassy in Switzerland
The Swiss Adoption Authority
Contact the appropriate Cantonal Central Authority (CCA).
A list of approved agencies is available from the Embassy or on the Internet at www.bj.admin.ch.
Embassy of Switzerland
2900 Cathedral Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (202) 745-7900
Fax: (202) 387-2564
Switzerland also has consulates in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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