Adopting from the United Kingdom

The official flag



The official coat of arms

The London House of Parliament.

Children feeding birds in Regent Park

Westminster Abbey

Classic red telephone box and London double-decker bus in front of the Houses of Parliament clocktower.

A student at Whitby Abbey

Harrods at night, London.

Notice: As of July 14, 2014, all individuals and agencies facilitating international adoptions must be in compliance with the Intercountry Universal Accreditation Act.

The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Always seek the advice of a licensed and qualified professional. While the content of this website is frequently updated, information changes rapidly and therefore, some information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies, omissions or typographical errors.

About The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has historically played a leading role in developing parliamentary democracy and in advancing literature and science. At its zenith in the 19th century, the British Empire stretched over one-fourth of the earth's surface. The first half of the 20th century saw the UK's strength seriously depleted in two world wars and the Irish Republic's withdrawal from the union. To learn more please read About United Kingdom.

Hague Convention Information

The United Kingdom (UK) is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of the child’s country of origin. To learn more please read about United Kingdom and the Hague Convention.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents must meet multiple UK requirements to adopt a child from the UK. To learn more about these requirements please read Who Can Adopt from United Kingdom.

Who Can Be Adopted

Because the UK is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from the UK must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of the UK have determined that placement of the child within the UK has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. To learn more please read about Who Can Be Adopted from United Kingdom.

How to Adopt

WARNING: The UK is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in the UK before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Adoption Authority

UK Adoption Authority

The Department for Education

The Department for Education (formerly the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Education and Skills) is the UK Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention and is responsible for children’s social services, including adoption policy. However, each adoption case is handled by the relevant council or voluntary adoption agency in the area where the adoptive child is located. Contact information for the local councils and local adoption agencies is available on the Department for Education’s webpage A guide to intercountry adoption: Apply to adopt a child through your council, and Apply to adopt a child through a voluntary adoption agency.

The Process

Because the UK is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from the UK must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in the UK.
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody of child in the UK.
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

To learn more about this process please read about How to Adopt from United Kingdom.

Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave the United Kingdom. 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. To learn more please read about Traveling Abroad in United Kingdom.

After Adoption

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:

Child Welfare Information Gateway

North American Council on Adoptable Children

Adoption Services Support Group for Adopting Persons

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom

24 Grosvenor Square London, W1K 6AH, UK Tel: [44] (0)20 7499-9000 Internet: U.S. Embassy United Kingdom

The United States has additional Consulates-General in Belfast and Edinburgh.

United Kingdom’s Adoption Authority

The Department for Education Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT Tel: 0870 000 2288 Fax: 01928 794248 Email:

Embassy of the United Kingdom

The British Embassy 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20008 Tel: (202) 588-7800 Internet: Embassy of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has Consulates-General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.

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: Internet: U.S. Department of State

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)


Intercountry Adoption, Bureau of Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State Country Information