Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Thailand Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise normal precautions in Thailand. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Reconsider travel to:
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Thailand:
Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla Provinces
Periodic violence directed mostly at government interests by a domestic insurgency continues to affect security in the southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla. U.S. citizens are at risk of death or injury due to the possibility of indiscriminate attacks in public places. Martial law is in force in this region.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in these provinces as U.S government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to these provinces.
Thailand is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Thailand.
A domestic adoption of a Thai child cannot be processed under Thailand’s laws and procedures implementing the Hague Adoption Convention. A domestic adoption will not render a child eligible under U.S. law as a beneficiary of a Form I-800 petition or an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa. In certain circumstances, such an adopted child may be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits through approval of a Form I-130 petition, after two years of physical and legal custody. For more information on this process, please visit the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Thailand, 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.
In addition to the U.S. requirements, Thailand obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Thailand:
Other: PAPs must be legally qualified under U.S. law to adopt a child.
Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Thailand must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Thailand have determined that placement of the child within Thailand has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Thailand’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
WARNING: Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Thailand before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Thailand’s Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC), Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW)
In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with the CAC in cases where a child is to be placed abroad. Contact information for each organization is available in the “Contact Information” section.
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Thailand as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.
Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Thailand must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may not confer immigration benefits on the adopted child (i.e. it is possible the child would not qualify for an immigrant visa if adopted out of order).
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Thailand is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Thailand. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Thailand as part of your adoption dossier. Thailand’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Thai law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in Thailand
If both the United States and Thailand determine that you are eligible to adopt and the DSDW has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the DSDW in Thailand may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Thailand. The DSDW will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the DSDW in Thailand. Learn more about this critical decision.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Thailand. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Thai Central Authority (DSDW) in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Thailand where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Thai Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Thailand before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of Child in Thailand
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Thailand, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Thailand.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Thailand generally includes the following:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that you have adopted or obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If a Thai child does not already have a birth certificate when s/he is taken to live at an orphanage, officials at the orphanage will arrange for the issuance of a birth certificate with the local District Registration Office, either in the jurisdiction where the child was born, if known, or in the jurisdiction where the orphanage is located.
An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document (passport) in order to travel from Thailand. The orphanage will arrange for the issuance of this travel document with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and present it to the adoptive family before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.
The passport costs 35 USD and processing takes two business days if picking up in person or five business days for delivery. Obtaining the passport is part of the overall services provided by the ASP.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. After and adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Bangkok for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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.
[POST-ADOPTION/POST-PLACEMENT REPORTING REQUIREMENTS]
Adoptive parents are required to register their adoption with the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
If prospective adoptive parents did not complete the six-month pre-adoption (post-placement) period in Thailand, then the U.S. Hague accredited ASP must submit to DSDW three bi-monthly reports detailing the child’s progress in adjusting to his or her new family and environment and his or her general welfare before the PAPs can finalize the adoption in U.S. state court.
We strongly urge you to comply with Thai post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.
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 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.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. 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.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Thailand
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 affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Thailand, 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 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 you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Thailand, 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).
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.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Thailand
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 205-4000
Fax: (66-2) 253-6250
U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai, Thailand
387 Wichayanond Road
Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand
Tel: 001-800-13-202-2457 (outside the U.S.), 1-800-202-2457 (inside the U.S.)
Fax: (66-53) 252-633
Note: The U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai does not handle adoptions. All adoption cases are handled by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.
Thai Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC)
Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW)
255 Rajvithi Road
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 354-7500 ext. 412-419
In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with DSDW's Child Adoption Center in cases where a child is to be placed abroad:
Friends for All Children
104/8 Soi Ronnachai 2, Setsiri Road
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 279-1059
Fax: (66-2) 617-1995
Holt Sahathai Foundation
850/33 Soi Sukhumvit 71 Mailing Address
Sukhumvit Road, Wattana P.O. Box Nana Nua 1478
Bangkok 10110, Thailand Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 381-8834-6
Fax: (66-2) 381-8837
Thai Red Cross Foundation
King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital
Henri Dunant Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 256-4178, (66-2) 256-4207 ext. 201
Fax: (66-2) 256-4277
The Pattaya Orphanage
P.O. Box 300
Pattaya Post Office, Pattaya City
Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel: (66-38) 423-468, (66-38) 416-426
Fax: (66-38) 416-425, (66-38) 716-204
Embassy of Thailand
The Royal Thai Embassy
1024 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tel: (202) 944-3600
Thailand also has consulates in: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
You are about to leave travel.state.gov for an external website that is not maintained by the U.S. Department of State.
Links to external websites are provided as a convenience and should not be construed as an endorsement by the U.S. Department of State of the views or products contained therein. If you wish to remain on travel.state.gov, click the "cancel" message.
You are about to visit: