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International Travel

English

Country Information

Sierra Leone

Country Information

Sierra Leone
Republic of Sierra Leone
Last Updated: February 9, 2017
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Freetown

Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Telephone: +(232) (99)105-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(232)(99) 905-029

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sierra Leone for information on U.S. – Sierra Leone relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for travel to Sierra Leone. Visitors to Sierra Leone are required to show their International Certificates of Vaccination (yellow card) upon arrival at the airport with a record of vaccination against yellow fever.  

Visit the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone’s website for the most current visa information.

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

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

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Safety and Security

Areas outside Freetown lack basic services. Travel outside the capital after dark is not allowed for U.S. Embassy officials and should be avoided by all travelers. Emergency response to vehicular and other accidents ranges from slow to nonexistent.

Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive device/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.

Crime: Crime is widespread in Sierra Leone; U.S. citizens have experienced armed mugging, assault, and burglary. Petty crime and pick-pocketing of wallets, cell phones, and passports are very common, especially on the ferry to and from Lungi International Airport, as well as in the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the Lumley Beach and Aberdeen areas of Freetown.

The Embassy receives regular reports from U.S. citizens about financial scams. See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:
There is no local number equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sierra Leone. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.

Report crimes to the local police at (232) (76) 771 721 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.

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. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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.

Exports: Sierra Leone's customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the export of gems and precious minerals, such as diamonds and gold. All mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, belong to the State, and only the Government of Sierra Leone can issue mining and export licenses. The National Minerals Agency (NMA) can provide licenses for export, while the agency’s Directorate of Precious Minerals Trading is responsible for Kimberly Process certification of diamonds. For further information on mining activities in Sierra Leone, contact the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, or see the Department of State’s annual Investment Climate Statement.

The Embassy has received reports in recent years of U.S. citizens investing in Sierra Leone who have been victims of fraud, often in the mining industry. Examples of fraud include advance-fee schemes where individuals have approached U.S. citizens urging them to purchase diamonds directly from Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy cannot interfere or intervene in any legal disputes, including those related to precious minerals. Please be aware that the U.S. Embassy cannot conduct checks on potential local partners. 

Photography: Travelers must obtain official permission to photograph government buildings, airports, bridges, or official facilities including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the U.S. Embassy. 

Dual Nationals: U.S. citizens who are also Sierra Leonean nationals must provide proof of payment of taxes on revenue earned in Sierra Leone before being granted clearance to depart the country.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual sexual relations between men are criminalized in Sierra Leone. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent prosecutions for consensual sexual activity between men, such activity is illegal and penalties can include imprisonment. While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, lesbians of all ages can be victims of “planned rapes” initiated by family members in an effort to change their sexual orientation.

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

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Sierra Leone law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and offers no specific protections for such persons. The law does not mandate accessibility of buildings or assistance to disabled persons and there is no government policy or program to assist persons with disabilities.

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

Women Travelers: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal in Sierra Leone and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, rape is common and indictments are rare. Domestic violence is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to five (5) million leones ($943) and up to two years in prison. However, domestic violence is common and police are unlikely to intervene.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is widespread in Sierra Leone. The government imposed a moratorium on practicing FGM/C as an emergency health response to the Ebola outbreak, and the moratorium remains in place, but the prohibition is not actively enforced.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

There are no 911 equivalent ambulance services in Sierra Leone. Travelers should expect only the most rudimentary health care facilities. The most recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak taxed the country's healthcare system and the possibility of another outbreak exists.

The quality of medications in Sierra Leone is inconsistent and counterfeit drugs remain a problem. In the event medications are needed, travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy's American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit to receive general information about reliable pharmacies. ACS maintains a list of physicians, clinics, and pharmacies.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that the medication is legal in Sierra Leone. 

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, and a copy of your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevelant:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Most main roads in Freetown are navigable, but narrow and often have potholes. There is limited roadside assistance in country and it is often difficult to find adequate fuel for longer journeys. Serious accidents are common, especially outside of Freetown, where the relative lack of traffic allows for greater speeds. Nighttime travel should be avoided. 

Traffic Laws: International road signs and protocols are not rotinuely observed in Sierra Leone. In the event of a traffic accident, you should follow all police instructions. Large mobs often form at the scene of an accident and threaten the safety of the driver. You should go to the nearest police station for safety, even in the smallest of accidents.

Public Transportation: Public transport (bus or group taxi) is erratic, unsafe, and not recommended. U.S. Embassy officials are prohibited from using public transportation or taxis.Motorcycle taxis are ubiquitous in Freetown and are often the cause of serious accidents. The U.S. Embassy strongly advises against utilizing these motorcycles. Pick pocketing is common in public taxis and mini-buses.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Visit the website of Sierra Leone’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Sierra Leone, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Siera Leone’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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Sierra Leone should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
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U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
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Learn why the Hague Abduction Convention Matters.
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 Freetown

Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Telephone: +(232) (99)105-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(232)(99) 905-029

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General Information
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Hague Abduction Convention
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Return
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Visitation/Access
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Retaining an Attorney
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Mediation
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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 when 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.

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

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

Sierra Leone is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Sierra Leone did not change.

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Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from Sierra Leone, you must be found eligible to be an adoptive parent 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, Sierra Leone also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Under Sierra Leonean law, adoptive parents are currently required to be resident in Sierra Leone for six months and to attend the court hearing for the adoption. Although in the past the High Court of Sierra Leone would sometimes waive either the personal appearance of prospective adoptive parents at adoption proceedings or the six-month residency requirement, this was always at the Court's discretion and should not be considered the norm. The High Court is currently reviewing its application of the Adoption Act and practices may change without notice.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Unless related to the child, one of the adoptive parents must be at least twenty-five years old and twenty-one years older than the child. A relative of the child need only be twenty-one years old. Sierra Leonean law allows adoption by a father or mother (either alone or jointly with a spouse), and has no age requirement at all in this case.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: A single male may not adopt a child unless there are exceptional circumstances or the child is a son of the prospective adoptive father, Only married couples may adopt jointly.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Sierra Leone has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Sierra Leone unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her home back to the United States. Find out more on Who Can be Adopted and these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

RELINQUISHMENT REQUIREMENTS:

The High Court may require the written consent by the biological parents. If the child was born in wedlock, the consent of both parents may be required. If the child was not born in wedlock, only the mother must consent. Birth parents who have granted consent to the adoption may withdraw their consent at any point during the adoption proceedings, with the High Court's permission.

ABANDONMENT REQUIREMENTS:

The High Court will not require the consent of the biological parents if those parents have legally abandoned the child, if a Sierra Leonean Governmental or judicial authority has terminated their parental rights or appointed a different legal guardian for the children, or if the parents are deceased. Birth parents who have granted consent to the adoption may withdraw their consent at any point during the adoption proceedings, with the High Court's permission.

AGE REQUIREMENTS:

The child must be under 17 years old. If the child is 16 years of age or older, only the child must consent to the adoption. Note: U.S. immigration law requires an orphan be under the age of 16 at the time of the adoption in order to be eligible for an immigrant visa. A child can be 16 or 17 if adopted with younger siblings and will be eligible for an immigrant visa.

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How to Adopt

SIERRA LEONE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs

THE PROCESS

The process for adopting a child from Sierra Leone generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in Sierra Leone
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bringing Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

    The first step in adopting a child from Sierra Leone is usually to select an agency or attorney in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right Adoption Service Provider

    The U.S. Embassy in Freetown maintains a list of local attorneys which is available upon request. There are no registered adoption agencies in Sierra Leone. There are organizations registered as non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) or private voluntary organizations (PVOs) that provide assistance to children and facilitate international adoptions. While the Government of Sierra Leone does not have a list of registered NGOs or PVOs, your adoption agency should be able to provide you with copies of a local organization's registration certificates. The U.S. Embassy cannot recommend the services of any specific attorney or organization.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state Government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

    To bring an adopted child from Sierra Leone to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

    In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the country's requirements as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

  3. Be Matched with a Child

    If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority will provide you with a referral to a child. The child must meet the country's eligibility requirements for adoptable children, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Sierra Leone

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Sierra Leone generally includes the following:

    • Role of The Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs is the Government office responsible for overseeing adoptions and child welfare issues in Sierra Leone. To initiate an adoption, an attorney in Sierra Leone sends a letter with relevant documents attached to the Social Development Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in Freetown.
    • Role of The Court: The High Court is the only authority in Sierra Leone that can issue an order granting an adoption or legal custody of minor children. After the Social Development Officer approves the prospective adoption the attorney files a petition for adoption with the High Court of the Sierra Leone. The High Court may order an investigation by an investigator appointed by the Court. The investigator should file a written report of the investigation with the High Court within 30 days of issuance of the investigation order. The High Court will schedule a hearing after these steps are completed to the court's satisfaction. The High Court currently requires at least one prospect adopting parent and the adoptive children to attend the hearing. The High Court may waive the appearance of the child for good cause and will usually state this in the order of adoption. The High Court may require the biological parents to appear in court to confirm sworn statements or affidavits. All hearings are confidential and held in closed court. The High Court must be satisfied that the "moral and temporal interests" of the child will be served by the adoption. While the High Court usually makes a ruling after one hearing, in some cases it will request additional documentation and/or investigation and schedule another hearing. If the High Court approves the adoption, it will issue a court order that either grants a full and final adoption, or authorizes the leave to adopt. There are no fixed time-lines or constraints on the High Court's processing of adoptions.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no registered adoption agencies in Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy in Freetown maintains a list of local attorneys which is available upon request. The U.S. Embassy cannot recommend the services of any specific attorney or organization.

    • Adoption Application: Most prospective adoptive parents work through an adoption agency in the U.S., which in turn maintains a relationship with an orphanage or organization in Sierra Leone, throughout the adoption process. Adoptive parents who do not want to go through a local organization are advised to hire an attorney to assist with the adoption application and process.
    • Time Frame: There are no fixed time lines or constraints on the Court's processing of adoptions. In the past, U.S. prospective adoptive parents have taken between six months to two years to complete the adoption procedures.
    • Adoption Fees: Official Government fees associated with adoptions in Sierra Leone are minimal and consist mainly of court filing costs. Such filing fees normally are less than U.S. $10. The cost of employing local counsel varies, but prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay several hundred dollars at a minimum for an attorney. Some adoption agencies charge prospective adoptive parents monthly maintenance fees that can be several hundred dollars per month. While monthly maintenance fees are legal in Sierra Leone, it appears that some local orphanages may have delayed adoption proceedings in order to continue payments of maintenance fees longer than necessary.
    • Documents Required: The following documents are required for adoption in Sierra Leone:
      • Petition for Adoption
      • Written consent of living biological parents
      • Affidavits concerning the prospective adoptive parents
      • Marriage certificate if appropriate
      • Evidence of finances such as bank statements and job letters
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption

    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody), you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to bring the child home to the United States. USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted. Visit USCIS website for more information.

    Because of the high incidence of fraud in Sierra Leone adoption cases, Embassy Freetown conducts a field investigation to confirm a child's status as an orphan under U.S. law. The field investigation will be conducted only after we have either (a) received an approved I-600 petition from the USCIS, or (b) have accepted an I-600 petition filed by the adopting parent(s) at the Embassy. Field investigations usually take between 2 to 4 months, depending on the availability and location of witnesses required to confirm evidence of orphan status. Upon receipt of the final results of the field investigation, we will notify the adopting parents and provide instructions on how to proceed.

    Prior to completing an adoption in Sierra Leone, prospective adoptive parents should request that the U.S. adoption agency or Sierra Leonean orphanage that has identified the child as potentially adoptable provide clear evidence that the child is likely to meet the INA definition of "orphan." Adoption agencies and orphanages should be able to provide the following items for each child being offered as available for adoption:

    • A copy of the child's official intake form completed at the time the child was brought to the orphanage. The intake form should indicate the circumstances under which the child was brought to the orphanage and any actions taken to confirm the facts.
    • A copy of the child's birth certificate.
    • A copy of a death certificate for any parent who has died.
    • If the child has a sole or surviving parent, a copy of the statement the biological parent made at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs irrevocably relinquishing parental rights.
    • If a parent has abandoned a child or disappeared, copies of the police report, the report by Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs detailing efforts to locate the parent and severing parental ties to the missing parent, and/or a court order making the child a ward of the state.
    • In Sierra Leone it appears that the only way a sole or surviving parent can irrevocably relinquish his or her parental rights to his or her child is at the Ministry of Social Welfare in the presence of either the Minister and/or the Chief Social Development Officer. Also, there does not appear to be any adoption agency or orphanage in Sierra Leone that is authorized under the child welfare laws of Sierra Leone to take the relinquishment or release of a child who has been abandoned by his or her birth parents.
  6. Bringing Your Child Home

    Now that your 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, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

    • Sierra Leone Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Sierra Leone.

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa
      After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child.

      Once the U.S. Embassy in Freetown has confirmed the adopted child's status as an orphan, a consular officer will contact the adopting parent(s) in order to schedule an appointment to process the child's immigrant visa.

      The adopted child must be physically present at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown at the time of the visa interview.

    CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

    For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

    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.

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport 

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Sierra Leone. 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 Your Visa 

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa from Sierra Leone. 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 Sierra Leone, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip 

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.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip 

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 Sierra Leone, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Sierra Leone require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

We strongly urge you to comply with any post-adoption requirements Sierra Leone may require and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Sierra Leone's history of positive experiences with American parents.

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 contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy
Consular Section
2160 Freetown Place
Washington, DC 20521-2160

International Mailing Address:
Consular Section
American Embassy
P O Box 50
Freetown, Sierra Leone

or 

Consular Section
U.S. Embassy
Leicester
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: (232) 22 515 000 or (232) 76 515 000
Fax: (232) 22 515 355
Email: AdoptionsFreetown@state.gov
Internet: http://sl.usembassy.gov

Sierra Leone's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs
New England, Freetown
Sierra Leone
Tel: (232) 22 241 256

Embassy of Sierra Leone
1701 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Telephone: (202) 939-9261
Fax: (202) 483-1793

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

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)

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 36 Months
A-2 None Multiple 36 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 36 Months
B-2 None Multiple 36 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 36 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 36 Months
C-3 None Multiple 36 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 36 Months
F-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 36 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 36 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 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 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 36 Months
M-2 None Multiple 36 Months
N-8 None Multiple 36 Months
N-9 None Multiple 36 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 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 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

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

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth and Death Certificates

Available. A certified copy of an entry in the register of births or deaths may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, 3 Wilberforce St., Freetown. Local registrars record births and deaths outside of Freetown. When registry volumes are full, usually after a period of several years, they are forwarded to the central archives of the Freetown registrar. Thus, records of recent births and deaths outside Freetown are available only at the local registries.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Four types of marriages are recognized as legal in Sierra Leone: civil, native (also called customary), Moslem and Christian. All civil and Christian marriages are required to be registered. Certified copies of certificates of registered marriages are available from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown. Certificates of Moslem marriages are also available from the mosque where they were performed; a certificate of a native marriage may also be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the marriage.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Divorces of people married in civil and Christian ceremonies must be granted by the courts, and therefore are registered. Certified copies of these divorce decrees are available from the Master and Registrar, High Court, Freetown. A certificate of Moslem divorce may be obtained from the mosque that sanctioned the divorce, and a certificate of native divorce may be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the divorce. If a Moslem or native divorce was also registered with the civil authorities, a certified copy may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Police records are available at the Criminal Investigation Department at No. 1 Pademba Road. For Sierra Leone passport holders, a police clearance certificate fee is LE 50,000; for foreign nationals the fee is LE 150,000. The certificates are usually available on the same day they are requested.

Prison Records

Available. May be obtained from the Director of Prison, Prison Headquarters, New England, Freetown.

Military Records

Available. May be obtained from the Records of Officer, Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces, Wilberforce, Freetown.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Effective June 05, 2002, only machine-readable Sierra Leonean passports will be valid for travel. The bio data page contains a photodigitized picture of the bearer as well as a smaller copy of the same photo.

Immigrant Visas: 9 FAM 42.64 discusses passport requirements for immigrant visa applicants. Generally, the passport must be valid for at least sixty (60) days beyond visa validity. The Government of Sierra Leone decision on passport validity produces the following results:

If the alien is exempt from the passport requirement under 9 FAM 42.2, post may continue to process the case despite the presentation of the old passport, but post must annotate the visa properly to indicate that the visa was issued based on a passport exemption (see 9 FAM 42.64 PN1).

In most other cases, no immigrant visas can be issued if an old passport is presented because it is impossible for the passport to be valid for sixty days beyond the visa's expiration date. In such cases, the alien must either be required to obtain a new, machine-readable Sierra Leone passport or the alien must apply for and obtain an individual passport waiver under 22 CFR 42.2(g).

Nonimmigrant Visas: Unless the alien benefits from a waiver of the passport requirement, posts may not issue nonimmigrant visas to applicants bearing non-machine-readable Sierra Leone passports because INA 212(a)(7)(B) requires nonimmigrant visa applicants to have a passport with at least six months of validity. Posts are reminded that, for nonimmigrant visa applicants who are unable to obtain a machine-readable Sierra Leone passport and who are otherwise qualified for a visa, they may consider recommending an emergency passport waiver to INS under 212(d)(4) if the purpose of travel is of compelling humanitarian or USG concern. Such a visa would be issued on Form OF-232.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts
Visa Services

The U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone processes family-based immigrant visas, diversity visas, and nonimmigrant visas.

 

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 939-9261/62/63 (202) 483-1793

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Freetown
Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Telephone
+(232) (99)105-000
Emergency
+(232)(99) 905-029
Fax
No Fax
Sierra Leone 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

Sierra Leone
Republic of Sierra Leone
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

6 months

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page per stamp

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Yes

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow Fever

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

$10,000

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Freetown

Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Telephone: +(232) (99)105-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(232)(99) 905-029

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Sierra Leone for information on U.S. – Sierra Leone relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A passport and visa are required for travel to Sierra Leone. Visitors to Sierra Leone are required to show their International Certificates of Vaccination (yellow card) upon arrival at the airport with a record of vaccination against yellow fever.  

Visit the Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone’s website for the most current visa information.

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

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

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Safety and Security

Areas outside Freetown lack basic services. Travel outside the capital after dark is not allowed for U.S. Embassy officials and should be avoided by all travelers. Emergency response to vehicular and other accidents ranges from slow to nonexistent.

Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive device/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.

Crime: Crime is widespread in Sierra Leone; U.S. citizens have experienced armed mugging, assault, and burglary. Petty crime and pick-pocketing of wallets, cell phones, and passports are very common, especially on the ferry to and from Lungi International Airport, as well as in the bars, restaurants, and nightclubs in the Lumley Beach and Aberdeen areas of Freetown.

The Embassy receives regular reports from U.S. citizens about financial scams. See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:
There is no local number equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Sierra Leone. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.

Report crimes to the local police at (232) (76) 771 721 and contact the U.S. Embassy at (232) (99) 105 500.

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. 

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

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.

Exports: Sierra Leone's customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning the export of gems and precious minerals, such as diamonds and gold. All mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, belong to the State, and only the Government of Sierra Leone can issue mining and export licenses. The National Minerals Agency (NMA) can provide licenses for export, while the agency’s Directorate of Precious Minerals Trading is responsible for Kimberly Process certification of diamonds. For further information on mining activities in Sierra Leone, contact the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, or see the Department of State’s annual Investment Climate Statement.

The Embassy has received reports in recent years of U.S. citizens investing in Sierra Leone who have been victims of fraud, often in the mining industry. Examples of fraud include advance-fee schemes where individuals have approached U.S. citizens urging them to purchase diamonds directly from Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy cannot interfere or intervene in any legal disputes, including those related to precious minerals. Please be aware that the U.S. Embassy cannot conduct checks on potential local partners. 

Photography: Travelers must obtain official permission to photograph government buildings, airports, bridges, or official facilities including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the U.S. Embassy. 

Dual Nationals: U.S. citizens who are also Sierra Leonean nationals must provide proof of payment of taxes on revenue earned in Sierra Leone before being granted clearance to depart the country.

Faith-Based Travelers:  See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: Consensual sexual relations between men are criminalized in Sierra Leone. Although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent prosecutions for consensual sexual activity between men, such activity is illegal and penalties can include imprisonment. While there is no explicit legal prohibition against sexual relations between women, lesbians of all ages can be victims of “planned rapes” initiated by family members in an effort to change their sexual orientation.

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

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Sierra Leone law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and offers no specific protections for such persons. The law does not mandate accessibility of buildings or assistance to disabled persons and there is no government policy or program to assist persons with disabilities.

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

Women Travelers: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal in Sierra Leone and punishable by up to 15 years in prison. However, rape is common and indictments are rare. Domestic violence is illegal and punishable by a fine of up to five (5) million leones ($943) and up to two years in prison. However, domestic violence is common and police are unlikely to intervene.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is widespread in Sierra Leone. The government imposed a moratorium on practicing FGM/C as an emergency health response to the Ebola outbreak, and the moratorium remains in place, but the prohibition is not actively enforced.

See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

There are no 911 equivalent ambulance services in Sierra Leone. Travelers should expect only the most rudimentary health care facilities. The most recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak taxed the country's healthcare system and the possibility of another outbreak exists.

The quality of medications in Sierra Leone is inconsistent and counterfeit drugs remain a problem. In the event medications are needed, travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy's American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit to receive general information about reliable pharmacies. ACS maintains a list of physicians, clinics, and pharmacies.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas. 

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Sierra Leone to ensure that the medication is legal in Sierra Leone. 

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, and a copy of your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevelant:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Most main roads in Freetown are navigable, but narrow and often have potholes. There is limited roadside assistance in country and it is often difficult to find adequate fuel for longer journeys. Serious accidents are common, especially outside of Freetown, where the relative lack of traffic allows for greater speeds. Nighttime travel should be avoided. 

Traffic Laws: International road signs and protocols are not rotinuely observed in Sierra Leone. In the event of a traffic accident, you should follow all police instructions. Large mobs often form at the scene of an accident and threaten the safety of the driver. You should go to the nearest police station for safety, even in the smallest of accidents.

Public Transportation: Public transport (bus or group taxi) is erratic, unsafe, and not recommended. U.S. Embassy officials are prohibited from using public transportation or taxis.Motorcycle taxis are ubiquitous in Freetown and are often the cause of serious accidents. The U.S. Embassy strongly advises against utilizing these motorcycles. Pick pocketing is common in public taxis and mini-buses.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

Visit the website of Sierra Leone’s national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Sierra Leone, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Siera Leone’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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Sierra Leone should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
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U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
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Learn why the Hague Abduction Convention Matters.
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 Freetown

Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone

Telephone: +(232) (99)105-000

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(232)(99) 905-029

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General Information
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Hague Abduction Convention
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Return
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Visitation/Access
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Retaining an Attorney
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Mediation
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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 when 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.

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

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

Sierra Leone is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Sierra Leone did not change.

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Who Can Adopt

To bring an adopted child to United States from Sierra Leone, you must be found eligible to be an adoptive parent 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, Sierra Leone also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Under Sierra Leonean law, adoptive parents are currently required to be resident in Sierra Leone for six months and to attend the court hearing for the adoption. Although in the past the High Court of Sierra Leone would sometimes waive either the personal appearance of prospective adoptive parents at adoption proceedings or the six-month residency requirement, this was always at the Court's discretion and should not be considered the norm. The High Court is currently reviewing its application of the Adoption Act and practices may change without notice.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: Unless related to the child, one of the adoptive parents must be at least twenty-five years old and twenty-one years older than the child. A relative of the child need only be twenty-one years old. Sierra Leonean law allows adoption by a father or mother (either alone or jointly with a spouse), and has no age requirement at all in this case.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: A single male may not adopt a child unless there are exceptional circumstances or the child is a son of the prospective adoptive father, Only married couples may adopt jointly.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Sierra Leone has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Sierra Leone unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.

In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her home back to the United States. Find out more on Who Can be Adopted and these U.S. requirements.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

RELINQUISHMENT REQUIREMENTS:

The High Court may require the written consent by the biological parents. If the child was born in wedlock, the consent of both parents may be required. If the child was not born in wedlock, only the mother must consent. Birth parents who have granted consent to the adoption may withdraw their consent at any point during the adoption proceedings, with the High Court's permission.

ABANDONMENT REQUIREMENTS:

The High Court will not require the consent of the biological parents if those parents have legally abandoned the child, if a Sierra Leonean Governmental or judicial authority has terminated their parental rights or appointed a different legal guardian for the children, or if the parents are deceased. Birth parents who have granted consent to the adoption may withdraw their consent at any point during the adoption proceedings, with the High Court's permission.

AGE REQUIREMENTS:

The child must be under 17 years old. If the child is 16 years of age or older, only the child must consent to the adoption. Note: U.S. immigration law requires an orphan be under the age of 16 at the time of the adoption in order to be eligible for an immigrant visa. A child can be 16 or 17 if adopted with younger siblings and will be eligible for an immigrant visa.

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How to Adopt

SIERRA LEONE ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs

THE PROCESS

The process for adopting a child from Sierra Leone generally includes the following steps:

  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Adopt the Child in Sierra Leone
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
  6. Bringing Your Child Home
  1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider

    The first step in adopting a child from Sierra Leone is usually to select an agency or attorney in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right Adoption Service Provider

    The U.S. Embassy in Freetown maintains a list of local attorneys which is available upon request. There are no registered adoption agencies in Sierra Leone. There are organizations registered as non-Governmental organizations (NGOs) or private voluntary organizations (PVOs) that provide assistance to children and facilitate international adoptions. While the Government of Sierra Leone does not have a list of registered NGOs or PVOs, your adoption agency should be able to provide you with copies of a local organization's registration certificates. The U.S. Embassy cannot recommend the services of any specific attorney or organization.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state Government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

    To bring an adopted child from Sierra Leone to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

    In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the country's requirements as described in the Who Can Adopt section.

  3. Be Matched with a Child

    If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority will provide you with a referral to a child. The child must meet the country's eligibility requirements for adoptable children, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law.

  4. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Sierra Leone

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Sierra Leone generally includes the following:

    • Role of The Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs is the Government office responsible for overseeing adoptions and child welfare issues in Sierra Leone. To initiate an adoption, an attorney in Sierra Leone sends a letter with relevant documents attached to the Social Development Officer in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs in Freetown.
    • Role of The Court: The High Court is the only authority in Sierra Leone that can issue an order granting an adoption or legal custody of minor children. After the Social Development Officer approves the prospective adoption the attorney files a petition for adoption with the High Court of the Sierra Leone. The High Court may order an investigation by an investigator appointed by the Court. The investigator should file a written report of the investigation with the High Court within 30 days of issuance of the investigation order. The High Court will schedule a hearing after these steps are completed to the court's satisfaction. The High Court currently requires at least one prospect adopting parent and the adoptive children to attend the hearing. The High Court may waive the appearance of the child for good cause and will usually state this in the order of adoption. The High Court may require the biological parents to appear in court to confirm sworn statements or affidavits. All hearings are confidential and held in closed court. The High Court must be satisfied that the "moral and temporal interests" of the child will be served by the adoption. While the High Court usually makes a ruling after one hearing, in some cases it will request additional documentation and/or investigation and schedule another hearing. If the High Court approves the adoption, it will issue a court order that either grants a full and final adoption, or authorizes the leave to adopt. There are no fixed time-lines or constraints on the High Court's processing of adoptions.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no registered adoption agencies in Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy in Freetown maintains a list of local attorneys which is available upon request. The U.S. Embassy cannot recommend the services of any specific attorney or organization.

    • Adoption Application: Most prospective adoptive parents work through an adoption agency in the U.S., which in turn maintains a relationship with an orphanage or organization in Sierra Leone, throughout the adoption process. Adoptive parents who do not want to go through a local organization are advised to hire an attorney to assist with the adoption application and process.
    • Time Frame: There are no fixed time lines or constraints on the Court's processing of adoptions. In the past, U.S. prospective adoptive parents have taken between six months to two years to complete the adoption procedures.
    • Adoption Fees: Official Government fees associated with adoptions in Sierra Leone are minimal and consist mainly of court filing costs. Such filing fees normally are less than U.S. $10. The cost of employing local counsel varies, but prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay several hundred dollars at a minimum for an attorney. Some adoption agencies charge prospective adoptive parents monthly maintenance fees that can be several hundred dollars per month. While monthly maintenance fees are legal in Sierra Leone, it appears that some local orphanages may have delayed adoption proceedings in order to continue payments of maintenance fees longer than necessary.
    • Documents Required: The following documents are required for adoption in Sierra Leone:
      • Petition for Adoption
      • Written consent of living biological parents
      • Affidavits concerning the prospective adoptive parents
      • Marriage certificate if appropriate
      • Evidence of finances such as bank statements and job letters
  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption

    After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody), you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permission to bring the child home to the United States. USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted. Visit USCIS website for more information.

    Because of the high incidence of fraud in Sierra Leone adoption cases, Embassy Freetown conducts a field investigation to confirm a child's status as an orphan under U.S. law. The field investigation will be conducted only after we have either (a) received an approved I-600 petition from the USCIS, or (b) have accepted an I-600 petition filed by the adopting parent(s) at the Embassy. Field investigations usually take between 2 to 4 months, depending on the availability and location of witnesses required to confirm evidence of orphan status. Upon receipt of the final results of the field investigation, we will notify the adopting parents and provide instructions on how to proceed.

    Prior to completing an adoption in Sierra Leone, prospective adoptive parents should request that the U.S. adoption agency or Sierra Leonean orphanage that has identified the child as potentially adoptable provide clear evidence that the child is likely to meet the INA definition of "orphan." Adoption agencies and orphanages should be able to provide the following items for each child being offered as available for adoption:

    • A copy of the child's official intake form completed at the time the child was brought to the orphanage. The intake form should indicate the circumstances under which the child was brought to the orphanage and any actions taken to confirm the facts.
    • A copy of the child's birth certificate.
    • A copy of a death certificate for any parent who has died.
    • If the child has a sole or surviving parent, a copy of the statement the biological parent made at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs irrevocably relinquishing parental rights.
    • If a parent has abandoned a child or disappeared, copies of the police report, the report by Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children's Affairs detailing efforts to locate the parent and severing parental ties to the missing parent, and/or a court order making the child a ward of the state.
    • In Sierra Leone it appears that the only way a sole or surviving parent can irrevocably relinquish his or her parental rights to his or her child is at the Ministry of Social Welfare in the presence of either the Minister and/or the Chief Social Development Officer. Also, there does not appear to be any adoption agency or orphanage in Sierra Leone that is authorized under the child welfare laws of Sierra Leone to take the relinquishment or release of a child who has been abandoned by his or her birth parents.
  6. Bringing Your Child Home

    Now that your 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, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

    • Birth Certificate
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

    • Sierra Leone Passport
      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Sierra Leone.

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa
      After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child.

      Once the U.S. Embassy in Freetown has confirmed the adopted child's status as an orphan, a consular officer will contact the adopting parent(s) in order to schedule an appointment to process the child's immigrant visa.

      The adopted child must be physically present at the U.S. Embassy in Freetown at the time of the visa interview.

    CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

    For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.

    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.

    Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport 

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Sierra Leone. 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 Your Visa 

In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa from Sierra Leone. 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 Sierra Leone, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip 

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.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip 

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 Sierra Leone, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Sierra Leone require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

We strongly urge you to comply with any post-adoption requirements Sierra Leone may require and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Sierra Leone's history of positive experiences with American parents.

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 contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy
Consular Section
2160 Freetown Place
Washington, DC 20521-2160

International Mailing Address:
Consular Section
American Embassy
P O Box 50
Freetown, Sierra Leone

or 

Consular Section
U.S. Embassy
Leicester
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Tel: (232) 22 515 000 or (232) 76 515 000
Fax: (232) 22 515 355
Email: AdoptionsFreetown@state.gov
Internet: http://sl.usembassy.gov

Sierra Leone's Adoption Authority

Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender & Children's Affairs
New England, Freetown
Sierra Leone
Tel: (232) 22 241 256

Embassy of Sierra Leone
1701 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Telephone: (202) 939-9261
Fax: (202) 483-1793

Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
E-mail: AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

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)

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 36 Months
A-2 None Multiple 36 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 36 Months
B-2 None Multiple 36 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 36 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 36 Months
C-3 None Multiple 36 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 36 Months
F-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 36 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None N/A N/A 3
H-2B None N/A N/A 3
H-2R None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 36 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 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 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 36 Months
M-2 None Multiple 36 Months
N-8 None Multiple 36 Months
N-9 None Multiple 36 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 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 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

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

Please check back for update

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth and Death Certificates

Available. A certified copy of an entry in the register of births or deaths may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, 3 Wilberforce St., Freetown. Local registrars record births and deaths outside of Freetown. When registry volumes are full, usually after a period of several years, they are forwarded to the central archives of the Freetown registrar. Thus, records of recent births and deaths outside Freetown are available only at the local registries.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Four types of marriages are recognized as legal in Sierra Leone: civil, native (also called customary), Moslem and Christian. All civil and Christian marriages are required to be registered. Certified copies of certificates of registered marriages are available from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown. Certificates of Moslem marriages are also available from the mosque where they were performed; a certificate of a native marriage may also be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the marriage.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Divorces of people married in civil and Christian ceremonies must be granted by the courts, and therefore are registered. Certified copies of these divorce decrees are available from the Master and Registrar, High Court, Freetown. A certificate of Moslem divorce may be obtained from the mosque that sanctioned the divorce, and a certificate of native divorce may be obtained from the local authority that sanctioned the divorce. If a Moslem or native divorce was also registered with the civil authorities, a certified copy may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar General, Walpole Street, Freetown.

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update.

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Identity Card

Please check back for update.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Police records are available at the Criminal Investigation Department at No. 1 Pademba Road. For Sierra Leone passport holders, a police clearance certificate fee is LE 50,000; for foreign nationals the fee is LE 150,000. The certificates are usually available on the same day they are requested.

Prison Records

Available. May be obtained from the Director of Prison, Prison Headquarters, New England, Freetown.

Military Records

Available. May be obtained from the Records of Officer, Republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces, Wilberforce, Freetown.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Effective June 05, 2002, only machine-readable Sierra Leonean passports will be valid for travel. The bio data page contains a photodigitized picture of the bearer as well as a smaller copy of the same photo.

Immigrant Visas: 9 FAM 42.64 discusses passport requirements for immigrant visa applicants. Generally, the passport must be valid for at least sixty (60) days beyond visa validity. The Government of Sierra Leone decision on passport validity produces the following results:

If the alien is exempt from the passport requirement under 9 FAM 42.2, post may continue to process the case despite the presentation of the old passport, but post must annotate the visa properly to indicate that the visa was issued based on a passport exemption (see 9 FAM 42.64 PN1).

In most other cases, no immigrant visas can be issued if an old passport is presented because it is impossible for the passport to be valid for sixty days beyond the visa's expiration date. In such cases, the alien must either be required to obtain a new, machine-readable Sierra Leone passport or the alien must apply for and obtain an individual passport waiver under 22 CFR 42.2(g).

Nonimmigrant Visas: Unless the alien benefits from a waiver of the passport requirement, posts may not issue nonimmigrant visas to applicants bearing non-machine-readable Sierra Leone passports because INA 212(a)(7)(B) requires nonimmigrant visa applicants to have a passport with at least six months of validity. Posts are reminded that, for nonimmigrant visa applicants who are unable to obtain a machine-readable Sierra Leone passport and who are otherwise qualified for a visa, they may consider recommending an emergency passport waiver to INS under 212(d)(4) if the purpose of travel is of compelling humanitarian or USG concern. Such a visa would be issued on Form OF-232.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts
Visa Services

The U.S. Embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone processes family-based immigrant visas, diversity visas, and nonimmigrant visas.

 

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 939-9261/62/63 (202) 483-1793

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Freetown
Southridge, Hill Station
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Telephone
+(232) (99)105-000
Emergency
+(232)(99) 905-029
Fax
No Fax
Sierra Leone 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.