SerbiaLast Updated: May 2012
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
Adoption Alert: Serbia March 29, 2013
- Hague Convention Information
Serbia is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
- Who Can Adopt
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Serbia, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Serbia also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY: There are no residency requirements for adoption. However, current law gives priority to prospective parents who are of Serbian origin.
- AGE OF ADOPTING PARENTS: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older than the child, but no more than 45 years older.
- MARRIAGE: If there are two prospective adoptive parents, they must be married. A common-law marriage can qualify. Single prospective adoptive parents are also eligible to adopt a child in Serbia with special approval from the Ministry. Same-sex couples are not permitted to adopt.
- INCOME: Serbian Family Law does not specify income requirements. The adoption authority relies on the U.S. home study when determining the eligibility of prospective adoptive parents.
- OTHER: Prospective adoptive parents who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or infectious disease are disqualified from adopting. Prospective adoptive parents with other serious health conditions must demonstrate to the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy their ability to raise the child.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Serbia has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- AGE OF ADOPTIVE CHILD: Children between the ages of two months and 18 years are eligible for adoption. However, a foreign citizen may adopt a child in Serbia only after the child has been registered for adoption for at least one year and no domestic adopters have been found.
- SIBLING ADOPTIONS: Serbian Family Law does not specifically address sibling adoptions. However, adoption authorities try to place siblings together if they determine that it is in the best interest of the siblings.
- SPECIAL NEEDS OR MEDICAL CONDITIONS: These topics are not specified in Serbian family Law.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: A foreign citizen may adopt a child in Serbia only after the child has been registered for adoption for at least one year and no domestic adopters have been found.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children's homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children's home due to financial or other hardship, with the intention of returning for the child when they are able to do so. In such cases, the birth parent(s) rarely would have relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)'s adoption.
- How To Adopt
Serbia's Adoption Authority
Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy
The process for adopting a child from Serbia generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an adoption service provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be natched with a child
- Adopt the child in Serbia
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring your child home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Serbia is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
Currently there are no adoption agencies operating in Serbia. Prospective adoptive parents must work directly with the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy by contacting them at the address provided in the “Contact Information” section below. However, U.S. citizens considering adopting from Serbia may choose to work with a U.S. adoption agency or attorney to assist them with the U.S. portions of the process.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Serbia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Serbia and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy of Serbia. There is no specific application form. Please see Part 4, under Documents Required.
You may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
- Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority or other authorized entity in Serbia will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
If determined eligible by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy, prospective adoptive parents are added to the register of eligible adoptive parents. Each municipality in Serbia has an authority called the Center of Social Work (Centar za Socijalni Rad), which is part of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Policy. These centers attempt to match registered children awaiting adoption with registered prospective adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents are directed to a specific municipality after a prospective match is made. When a match is made and the Ministry informs the prospective adoptive parents of the match, local authorities will then schedule a "Solemn Ceremony of Adoption" (usually within a few days).The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Serbia's requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
- Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child in Serbia
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Serbia generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
- Determination of eligibility of prospective adoptive parents;
- Registration of eligible prospective adoptive parents;
- Matching of registered prospective adoptive parents with children registered for adoption;
- Arranging issuance of the new birth certificate and passport
- ROLE OF THE CENTER OF SOCIAL WORK: Center of Social Work issues the Adoption Decree and conducts the adoption ceremony.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no adoption agencies in Serbia.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: There is no specific application form. See documents required below.
- TIME FRAME: The length of the adoption process varies greatly. If prospective adoptive parents have located a child prior to their arrival in Serbia, the whole process may be finished within four weeks.
- ADOPTION FEES: There are no Serbian government fees for adoption. The only fee to be paid is a fee in Serbian dinars (approximately US$25) for the issuance of the child's Serbian passport.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
- Written request with justification signed by at least one of the prospective adoptive parents (a short explanation or cover letter explaining the reasons and circumstances of the adoption). Along with the written request, prospective adoptive parents should include the documents listed below;
- Short biography of prospective adopting parents;
- Home Study (U.S. Home Study acceptable);
- Prospective adoptive parents' Birth Certificates;
- Marriage Certificate, if applicable;
- U.S. Criminal Records/Police Certificates;
- Medical report on general health condition;
- Evidence of employment, income, assets and home;
- Evidence that prospective adoptive parents meet the U.S. adoption requirements (I-171H is accepted);
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship (passport);
- Photographs of adoptive parents (two 3.5 by 4.5 cm passport photos each).
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. All documents must to be translated into Serbian by a court certified translator.
• Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Serbia, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
- Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Serbia you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
The Serbian adoption authority arranges the issuance of a new birth certificate for adopted children. Following the adoption, local authorities will also erase the names of the biological parents from the registry books and make a new entry with the names of the adopting parents. Please note that the child's first name cannot be changed in Serbia. Should the U.S. adoptive parents wish to change the child's name, they must do so through a separate U.S. court process after returning to the United States. Authorities will also issue an Adoption Decree (Resenje o usvojenju) which includes the child's history and details of the adoption process, birth certificate, and passport.
The Serbian adoption authority will arrange the issuance of a new birth certificate for the adopted child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Serbia.
The Serbian adoption authority will arrange the issuance of a new Serbian passport for the adopted child.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician's medical report on the child.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade's website.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child's entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child's entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child's entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*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.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa to Travel to Serbia
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Serbia, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll your trip with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Serbia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Adoption
There are no post-adoption reporting requirements in Serbia.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for Adopting Persons
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
Serbia's Adoption Authority
Address: Nemanjina 22-26 11000 Belgrade
Tel: +381 11 3631448
Embassy of the Republic of Serbia
Address: 2134 Kalorama Rd., NW Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-0333
Fax: (202) 332-3933
Serbia also has consulates in New York and Chicago
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)