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Official Gazette

Monday, September 26, 2022

Specific rules on intercountry adoption

Updated: 16:14’ - 30/05/2011

In order to complete the legal framework for adoption activities in Vietnam, the Government has recently issued Decree No. 19/2011/ND-CP detailing a number of articles of the 2010 Adoption Law (Decree 19). The new decree, which takes effect on May 8,  contains many specific provisions on the registration and licensing of intercountry adoption activities. It replaces relevant contents of Decree No. 68/2002/ND-CP guiding the Law on Marriage and Family’s provisions regarding foreign-involved marriage and family relations, Decree No. 69/2006/ND-CP amending Decree No. 68, and Decree No. 158/2005/ND-CP on civil status management and registration.

Adoption application dossiers and procedures

As guided in Decree  19, an overseas Vietnamese or foreigner who wants to adopt a specific Vietnamese child will submit his/her dossier and the dossier of the adopted child directly to the Ministry of Justice’s Department of Child Adoption. If unable to do so for a plausible reason, he/she may authorize a relative to submit the dossier or send it by registered mail.

The applicant is also required to submit some additional dossiers, depending on his/her case.

For a stepparent applying for adoption of his/her step child, a copy of the certificate of his/her marriage with the natural mother or father of the to-be-adopted child is required. An adopting person who is a natural aunt or uncle of the to-be-adopted child has to submit proof of his/her consanguineous relationship with the child.

In case a person who has adopted a Vietnamese child and now wishes to adopt a brother or sister of his/her adopted child, he/she must enclose a copy of the previously granted adoption decision and documentary proof that the child already adopted and the child to be adopted are siblings. A person who wants to adopt a child with disabilities or a dangerous disease should submit documents evidencing the special circumstance of the child. Meanwhile, a foreigner currently residing in Vietnam is required to submit a written certification of the commune-level People’s Committee or Police of his/her place of residence to prove that he/she has been residing in Vietnam for at least one year, counting up to the time of dossier submission.

For adoption of unspecific children, applicants permanently residing in countries which are contracting parties to child adoption cooperation agreements signed with Vietnam may submit dossiers to the Department of Child Adoption through adoption organizations of their countries which are licensed to operate in Vietnam. If such organizations are not available, dossiers may be submitted via their diplomatic missions or consulates in Vietnam.

Decree 19 sets a 30-day time limit for persons related to the adopted child to express their opinions about offering the child for intercountry adoption, including cases in which a person has given consent but later changes his/her mind. Past this time limit, no change of opinion is accepted.

As for foreign-involved adoption in border areas, Decree 19 devotes a separate chapter to this matter, replacing “scattered” regulations in Decrees 68, 69 and 158.

To adopt a child living in a border area of Vietnam, a foreign resident in a neighboring country’s  border area must prepare a dossier, comprising an application, a copy of his/her passport or valid substitutes, judicial record card, written certification of his/her eligibility for adoption, written certification of his/her marital status, health certificate and two recent photos. This dossier, together with the dossier of the adoptee, will be submitted to the People’s Committee of the commune in which the adoptee lives. 

Under Decree 19, the time limit for processing a dossier of foreign-involved adoption in a border area is shortened to 30 days from the current 52 days. Within the first 15 days after receiving a complete dossier, the commune-level People’s Committee will examine the dossier, consult related persons and send the dossier to the provincial-level Justice Department. Within the subsequent 10 days, the provincial-level Justice Department will verify the dossier and give its reply to the commune-level People’s Committee. The adoption will be registered and the child will be handed over to the adopting person within five days after the commune-level People’s Committee receives the agreement from the provincial-level Justice Department.

Operations of foreign adoption organizations

Compared to Decrees 68 and 69, Decree 19 sets stricter conditions for licensing the operation of Vietnam-based offices of foreign adoption organizations, paying special attention to the personal backgrounds and professional qualifications of heads and employees of adoption offices.

Under the new decree, either Vietnamese or foreign citizens can be appointed as heads of Vietnam-based offices of foreign adoption organizations if they possess good morality, have no previous criminal records, are not banned from entry or exit and have a good knowledge of Vietnamese law and cultural and social issues related to adoption and international adoption law. However, a person may act as the head for only one foreign adoption office. In addition, a Vietnamese citizen who is introduced to act as head of a foreign adoption office may not concurrently work as a state employee.

To be granted an operation license, a foreign adoption organization should submit to the Department of Child Adoption two sets of dossier, each comprising an application, a copy of its charter, operation regulation or establishment decision, a copy of the license for operation in Vietnam, issued by a competent authority of its host country, a report on its international adoption activities over the last three years, a report on knowledge of  its social and legal employees’ knowledge about Vietnamese law, culture and social issues and international adoption law, personal records of the person to be appointed as head of its Vietnam-based office and his/her appointment decision. 

At present, the time limit for handling such a dossier is 75 days. Under the new decree, the applicant has to wait longer before a license is granted.

Within 60 days after receiving a compete and valid dossier, the Department of Child Adoption will examine the dossier and propose the Minister of Justice to consult the Ministry of Public Security. The Ministry of Public Security will have a period of 30 days to give its opinions to the Department of Child Adoption which will complete the dossier and propose the Minister of Justice to grant an operation license within the subsequent five days.

The granted license is valid nationwide for five years at most, counting from the date of its grant, and may be extended for several times with each extension not exceeding five years.

Fees and expenses for intercountry adoption

Intercountry adoption fees will be paid to the Department of Child Adoption upon dossier submission. The fee rate of VND 9 million/case applies to overseas Vietnamese and non-resident foreigners. Persons who make registration at  representative missions pay a fee of VND 3 million/case.

A 50% reduction of the adoption registration fee is offered to a stepparent who adopts a step child or a natural aunt or uncle who adopts his/her nephew or niece. For those who adopt two or more siblings, the fee is reduced by 50% from the second child onward. Meanwhile, cases of registration of de facto adoptions and adoption re-registration are eligible for fee exemption.

Total cost for intercountry adoption settlement is VND 50 million per case, excluding expenses for services, travel, accommodation and actually arising costs an adopting person directly pays, including the expense for bringing the child abroad after the adoption is settled. Non-resident foreigners are required to pay this expenses when they agree to adopt Vietnamese children introduced to them. Those who adopt children with disabilities or a dangerous diseases are exempt from this expense.

As for foreign adoption organization, the fee for the grant of an operation license is VND 65 million, while those or license extension and modification is VND 35 million and VND 2 million, respectively. (VLLF) -


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