Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Tanzania Intercountry Adoption Information
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Mtwara Region in southern Tanzania – Level 3: Reconsider Travel
There have been reports of violence in Mtwara Region in southern Tanzania. Increased activity by extremists along the southern border has led to attacks against both government and civilian targets.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.
Tanzania 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 of 2012 (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the requirement that adoption service providers be accredited or approved, and therefore meet the accreditation standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also applies in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider act as the primary provider in every Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption case, and that adoption service providers providing any adoption services, as defined at 22 CFR Part 96.2, on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website on the impact of the UAA on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the home study requirements listed at 8 CFR 204.311, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
Prospective adoptive parents must either be Tanzanian citizens or resident in Tanzania for three consecutive years before seeking to adopt. There are separate laws governing adoption for mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. Mainland Tanzania adoption law is outlined in Part VI of Tanzania’s 2009 Law of the Child. In Zanzibar, the adoption law is under part VIII of the Zanzibar Children’s Act, 2011. Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned that adoptions are allowed in Zanzibar, but the prospective adoptive parent must submit a joint application with a Tanzanian citizen who is resident in Zanzibar. For further information, see Section 83 of the Zanzibar Children’s Act.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Tanzania, 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 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.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Tanzania must meet the following requirements:
Minimum Residency: Prospective adoptive parent(s) must be Tanzanian residents for at least three consecutive years to adopt a child from Tanzania unless they are Tanzanian citizens. The Tanzanian Office of Social Welfare considers a person to be resident if that person holds a Resident Permit (Class A, B or C), a Dependent's Pass, or an Exemption Permit, and lives in Tanzania. This residency requirement may be waived in cases where the applicant is a Tanzanian citizen or the High Court of Tanzania determines an adoption by non-Tanzanians to be “in the best interests of the child” (Tanzania Law of the Child, Article 74, Section 2).
Age of Adopting Parents: A prospective adoptive parent (or one of the prospective adoptive parents in the case of a joint application) must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted. If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative of the child, he or she must be at least 25 years old, but there is no requirement regarding the minimum age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and the prospective adoptee.
Marriage: Married heterosexual couples may adopt from Tanzania. If one spouse applies for an adoption order, the other spouse must consent. Single women who are Tanzanian citizens may adopt. A single man with Tanzanian citizenship may only adopt a child if the child is his biological son (or biological daughter if the court is satisfied that special circumstances warrant the order..
Minimum Income: Prospective adoptive parents are required to have sufficient funds to be able to take care of their adoptive child.
Other Requirements: There are no additional requirements.
Under the INA 101(b)(1)(F), a child can be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents, or in the case where there is a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements of Tanzania:
Eligibility for adoption: Relinquishment: The District Social Welfare Officer will work with the police departments to confirm whether a child relinquished has any living relatives. In circumstances where family members are located, formal written consent from the family must be obtained before the child is released for adoption.
Abandonment: In circumstances where no living relatives can be located, the police department will issue a Certificate of Abandonment. The certificate is needed for the adoption to be completed.
Age of Adoptive Child: Children 14 years of age or older must consent to the adoption, if capable of providing consent. 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 meets the age requirements and immigrated or will immigrate as an orphan based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
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 possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Tanzania’s Adoption Authority
Department of Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Tanzania generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider To Act as Your Primary Provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
3. Apply to Tanzania’s Authorities to Adopt, and to be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Tanzania
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
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 to Act as Your Primary Provider
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Tanzania, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
Supervising and being responsible for any supervised providers, and otherwise complying with the requirements regarding the provision of adoption services using other providers. (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 (UAA). See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Tanzania, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government and laws of Tanzania and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may 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. If you have already identified the child you wish to adopt, you may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition for the child and include all the required supporting documentation for the Form I-600A application (i.e. an approved home study) so USCIS can make a determination on your suitability and eligibility to adopt before revieiwing the child’s eligibility as an orphan. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Unless an exception applies, the home study must be prepared by a person who is authorized under 22 CFR 96 to prepare home studies and must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.
3. Apply to Tanzania’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, Tanzania requires you to submit an adoption application to the Department of Social Welfare of Tanzania to be found eligible to adopt by Tanzania.
To apply to adopt from Tanzania, you will need to:
The competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in Tanzania will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, may provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consider consulting with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child, but you must decide for yourself whether you will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for a specific child. You must also ultimately adhere to the USCIS’ suitability determination (i.e. typically the Form I-600A approval notice) with respect to the number of children you are approved to adopt and the characteristics of the child(ren) (such as age, gender, nationality, and/or special need, disability, and/or impairment) that you are approved to adopt. Learn more about Health Considerations.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Tanzania’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.
4. Adopt the Child in Tanzania
The process for finalizing the adoption in Tanzania generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority or Competent Authority: Tanzania’s Adoption Authority is the Office of Social Welfare. The District Social Welfare Officer, who is supervised by the Commissioner of Social Welfare, evaluates prospective adoptive parents to determine suitability and eligibility to adopt under Tanzanian law, takes certain steps when a child is relinquished to government authorities, oversees the fostering and pre-adoption period as the child’s guardian ad litem, and makes recommendations regarding the suitability of specific child placements.
Role of the Court: The Tanzanian High Court approves the legal adoption of a child. If the child has been in your continuous care for the immediate six months prior and you meet the other requirements for the High Court to approve the adoption, the court will decide whether to issue an adoption order.
Role of Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Providers: 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.
Though U.S. adoption service providers are the primary providers in intercountry adoption cases for U.S. purposes, you will also need to hire a local attorney to file an adoption case with the High Court.
Note: See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required.
Adoption Application: You will need to apply to the District Social Welfare Office to be found suitable and eligible to adopt, and your local attorney will apply to the High Court for the adoption, after the match is officially approved by the Office of Social Welfare.
Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions in Tanzania may take approximately six months to complete from the time a dossier is accepted by the Office of Social Welfare to the time the final adoption is issued. This does not include the three year residency requirement for non-Tanzanian citizens.
Adoption Fees: Neither the courts nor the Office of Social Welfare charge for adoption services. Attorney fees may range from U.S. $500 – $2,000. Civil documents, such as birth certificates, can range from U.S. $10 – $30 for each document and passports are TSH 150,000 (roughly $70)
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them 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 Tanzania, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments violate applicable law, or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in Tanzania at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the UAA and IAA make certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent authority, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.
Documents Required: Prospective adoptive parents must provide proof of citizenship and identity, marital status, Tanzanian residency, financial means, home study, and an application for adoption.
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 to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in Tanzania, USCIS must determine if the child meets the definition of an orphan 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, on behalf of the child and unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider.
If you have a valid Form I-600A approval, you may file your Form I-600 petition in the United States with the USCIS National Benefits Center or at the U.S.Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 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.
When a Form I-600 petition is filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, to verify the child’s orphan status. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the non-Convention 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.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once 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, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Tanzania, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
Your attorney will take the adoption order to the civil registry (RITA) and request an adoption certificate listing your name(s) as the parent(s) of the child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Tanzania.
You or your attorney may apply for your child’s Tanzanian passport at the Immigration office by presenting the adoption certificate and any other documents they require for processing, such as your identification.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with 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. You 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 confirmation page to the visa interview. Review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam processes immigrant visas for non-U.S. citizens located in Tanzania. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam can be found on the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam’s website.
Upon receipt of the case at post, the Consular Section generally notifies the petitioner. 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. You should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam before making final travel arrangements. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on our website.
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 after the child’s admission into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s admission 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.
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 acquires U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for 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 Tanzania
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 Tanzania, 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 abroad 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 Tanzania, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Tanzania, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Tanzanian law requires foreign adoptive parents to notify the Commissioner of the Office of Social Welfare of their intent to remove an adopted child from Tanzania on a permanent basis after the adoption. The penalties for not doing so include sizeable fines (U.S. $6,000 – $30,000) and/or imprisonment (for six months to two years).
If a family has custody of the child and only an interim adoption order, then the family must seek the consent of the High Court before removing the child from Tanzania.
We urge you to comply with Tanzania’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Tanzania’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
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. You may wish to 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 adoptions.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which can be a useful resource to get you started on your support group search.
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, 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/A process.
The 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 not have been in 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 Complaint Registry.
Tanzania’s Adoption Authority
Office of Social Welfare
4th Floor NSSF Building
Corner of Morogoro and Bibi Titi Mohamed Road
P.O. Box 1949
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Department of Community Development
Ministry of Health University of Dodoma
Block No. 11
P. O. Box 573
Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) (Adoption Certificates)
Tower, 4 Simu Street
P.O. Box 9182
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Fax: +255-22-2924182 and +255 22 2924180/81
Immigration Services (Tanzanian Passports)
Liliondo Street, Kurasini
P.O. Box 512
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255-22-285-0575 or -0576
Fax: +255-22-285-0598 or -0584
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with the
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax:1- 913-214-5808
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with a USCIS international field office:
Please visit http://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-immigration-offices and select the appropriate office.
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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