Tanzania

Last Updated: May 2014

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

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Hague Convention Information

Tanzania 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).

Tanzanian adoption law is outlined in Part VI of Tanzania’s 2009 Law of the Child

Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned that:

  • Adoptions are not allowed in Zanzibar.
  • Families must either be Tanzanian citizens or resident in Tanzania for three years before seeking to adopt.

Review the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information on international adoptions, or immigration through adoption, namely the “orphan” process.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Tanzania, 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 orphanunder U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Tanzania:

  • Residency:  Prospective adoptive parent(s) must be Tanzanian residents for at least three consecutive years to adopt a child from Tanzania unless they are Tanzanian citizens.  The Tanzanian Department of Social Welfare considers a person to be resident if that person holds a Resident Permit (Class A, B or C), a Dependent's Pass, or an Exemption Permit, and lives in Tanzania.  This residency requirement may be waived in cases where the applicant is a Tanzanian citizen or the High Court of Tanzania determines an adoption by non-Tanzanians to be “in the best interests of the child” (Tanzania Law of the Child, Article 74, Section 2).
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  A prospective adoptive parent, or in the case of a joint application, one of the prospective adoptive parents, must be at least 25 years old and at least 21 years older than the child to be adopted.  If the prospective adoptive parent is a relative of the child, he or she must be at least 25 years old, but there is no requirement regarding the minimum age difference between the prospective adoptive parent and the prospective adoptee.
  • Marriage:  Married heterosexual couples may adopt from Tanzania.  If one spouse applies for an adoption order, the other spouse must consent.  Single women who are Tanzanian citizens may adopt.  A single man with Tanzanian citizenship may only adopt a child if the child is his biological son (or biological daughter if the court is satisfied that special circumstances warrant the order). 
  • Income:  None specified
  • Other:  Laws permitting adoption in Tanzania apply only to the mainland.  Adoptions are not permitted in Zanzibar.
Who Can Be Adopted

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Tanzania has specific requirements for a child to meet in order to be eligible for adoption:

  • Relinquishment:  The District Social Welfare Officer will work with the Police Department to confirm whether a relinquished child has any living relatives.  In circumstances where family members are located, formal written consent from the family must be obtained before the child is released for adoption.
  • Abandonment:  In circumstances where no living relatives can be located, the Police Department will issue a Certificate of Abandonment.  The certificate is needed for the adoption to be completed.
  • Age of Adoptive Child:  None specified.  However, children age 14 or older must consent to the adoption, if capable of providing consent.
  • Sibling Adoptions:  None specified.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  None specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care:  Adoptions generally take a minimum of six months after the match, to include three months of foster care, followed by a three month period between custody and the adoption hearing in the High Court.

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, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible.  In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.

How To Adopt

Tanzania’s Adoption Authority
Department of Social Welfare

The Process

The process for adopting a child from Tanzania 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 Tanzania
  5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
  6. Bring your child home

1.  Choose an Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Tanzania 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.

You will also need to work with a local Tanzanian attorney.  Consult the Law Society of Tanganyika or the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam’s website for a list of attorneys.

2.  Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from Tanzania, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Tanzania and U.S. immigration law.  To apply to adopt from Tanzania, you will need to:

  • Contact the District Social Welfare Officer to obtain the application form to foster a child.  If the office is not in your district, then reach out to the Regional Social Welfare Office.
  • Complete the foster care application form.  Provide contact details of at least three references who have known you for at least three years and one family reference.  If you cannot provide local references, then provide references from the United States.  The District Social Welfare Officer will coordinate with International Social Services to interview references outside of Tanzania. 
  • Arrange with the District Social Welfare Office to begin the home study process.  This consists of at least four interviews by the District Social Welfare Officer, including at least one visit to the family's home. 
  • The District Social Welfare Office forwards the custody application, home study, and other paperwork to the Commissioner for Social Welfare for review and approval.

To meet U.S. immigration requirements, 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.

3.  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 Tanzania 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.

The matching process generally involves the following steps:

  • When the foster application is approved, the prospective adoptive parents and the District Social Welfare Officer work together to identify a child who is eligible for adoption and suitable to be matched with the prospective adoptive parents.
  • The District Social Welfare Officer will contact the Police Department to determine whether the child has any living relatives.  If so, the relatives must consent to the adoption.  If there are no living relatives, the Police Department will produce a certificate of abandonment.
  • The District Social Welfare Officer places the child with the prospective adoptive parents to foster for at least three months.  The District Social Welfare Officer will visit the child and family on a regular basis during the fostering period.
  • After completing the three month foster care period, the prospective adoptive parents meet with the District Social Welfare Officer to discuss whether they wish to adopt the child.  The officer makes a recommendation and submits the file to the Commissioner of Social Welfare to review.

The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Tanzania’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section.  The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.

4.  Adopt the Child in Tanzania

The process for finalizing the adoption in Tanzania generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority:  The District Social Welfare Officer, who is supervised by the Commissioner of Social Welfare, evaluates prospective adoptive parents to help determine suitability and eligibility to adopt under Tanzanian law, takes certain steps when a child is relinquished to government authorities, oversees the fostering and pre-adoption period as the child’s guardian ad litem, and makes recommendations regarding the suitability of specific child placements.
  • Role of the Court:  The Tanzanian High Court approves the legal adoption of a child.  If the child has been in your continuous care for the immediate six months prior and you meet the other requirements for the High Court to approve the adoption, the court will decide whether to issue an adoption order.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies:  U.S. adoption service providers can help with the adoption process.  However, you will still need to hire a local attorney to file the adoption case with the High Court.
  • Adoption Application:  You will need to apply to the District Social Welfare Officer to be found suitable and eligible to adopt, and your local attorney will apply to the High Court for the adoption, after the match is officially approved by the Office of Social Welfare.
  • Time Frame:  Upwards of six months, not including the three year residency requirement for non-Tanzanian citizens.
  • Adoption Fees:  Neither the courts nor the Office of Social Welfare charge for adoption services.  Attorney fees may range from U.S. $500 – $2,000.  Civil documents, such as birth certificates and passports, can range from U.S. $10 – $30 for each document.
  • Documents Required:  Prospective adoptive parents must provide proof of citizenship and identity, civil status, Tanzanian residency, financial means, home study, and an application for adoption.

Note:  Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents:  You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic.  If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.

5.  Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status

After you finalize the adoption in Tanzania, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.  You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

Note:  Special procedures may be available for U.S. prospective adoptive parents who reside abroad and intend to continue residing abroad after finalizing the adoption.  Please see our page on U.S. Citizens Adopting Abroad for more information.

6.  Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete, 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:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Tanzania, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child.   Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

Your attorney will take the adoption order to the civil registry (RITA) and request an adoption certificate listing your name(s) as the parent(s) of the child.

Tanzanian Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document or passport from Tanzania. 

You or your attorney may apply for a passport at Immigration by presenting the adoption certificate and any other documents they require for processing, such as your identification.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, 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 Dar es Salaam.  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.

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam by sending an email to DRSIV@state.gov.  Consular staff will respond to you within one to two business days.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes three to five business days.  Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam before making final travel arrangements, if travelling to the city.

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.

Do you ordinarily reside overseas?  If you intend to continue living overseas with your child instead of returning to the United States to reside permanently with your child, please review the instructions on USCIS form N-600K to determine whether you qualify to apply for expeditious naturalization of your child instead of pursuing the immigrant visa process.  If your application is approved, you may apply for a visitor’s visa at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam for your child to complete the naturalization procedure in the United States and to return to your home overseas.

*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 a Visa to Travel to Tanzania

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 Tanzania, see the Department of State’s Country-Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip

Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country.  The Department of State provides Country-Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State.  Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary.  Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Tanzania, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

AFTER ADOPTION

Tanzanian law requires foreign adoptive parents to notify the Commissioner of the Office of Social Welfare of their intent to remove an adopted child from Tanzania on a permanent basis after the adoption.  The penalties for not doing so include sizeable fines (U.S. $6,000 – $30,000) and/or imprisonment (for six months to two years).

If a family has custody of the child and only an interim adoption order, then the family must seek the consent of the High Court before removing the child from Tanzania.

Prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to seek the counsel of a local attorney and/or adoption service provider regarding compliance with Tanzania’s post-adoption reporting requirements.  Your cooperation will contribute to the country’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.

Post-Adoption Resources

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin.  Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note:  Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

Contact Information


U.S. Embassy in Tanzania

686 Old Bagamoyo Road, Msasani
P.O. Box 9123
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel:  +255-22-229-4122
Fax:  +255-22-229-4721
Email:  DRSIV@state.gov
Internet:  tanzania.usembassy.gov

Tanzania Adoption Authority
Office of Social Welfare
4th Floor NSSF Building
Corner of Morogoro and Bibi Titi Mohamed Road
P.O. Box 1949
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255-22-213-5572

Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania
1232 - 22nd Street NW, Washington D.C 20037
Tel:  202-884-1085
Fax:  202-797-7408
Email:  ubalozi@tanzaniaembassy-us.org
Internet:  TanzaniaEmbassy-US.org

Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (RITA) (Adoption Certificates)
Kipalapala Street
P.O. Box  9182
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Fax:  +255-22-215-3069
Email:  info@rita.go.tz
Internet:  www.rita.go.tz/

Immigration Services (Tanzanian Passports)
Liliondo Street, Kurasini
P.O. Box 512
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel:  +255-22-285-0575 or -0576
Fax:  +255-22-285-0598 or -0584
Email:  pcis@immigration.go.tz; admin@immigration.go.tz
Internet:  www.immigration.go.tz

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17A, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov