International adoption 

International (or intercountry) adoption

  • is a process that recognizes a person or couple as the legal and permanent parent(s) of a child from another country
  • complies with the laws of the parent’s country and the country where the child is coming from

For all international adoptions, you must complete 2 processes:

  1. the adoption process
  2. the immigration or citizenship process

 Don’t adopt during a crisis

A crisis (such as a war or natural disaster) often separates children from their families. In these situations, you shouldn’t adopt a child because

  • reuniting the child with their parents or family must take priority
  • it’s difficult to confirm if a child is actually available for adoption

For more information, check the statement from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).

1. Adopting your child

To be eligible to adopt, you must meet the adoption requirements of the

  • Canadian province or territory where you live (or the country where you live, if you’re abroad)
  • adoption authority of the country where the child lives

To start the adoption process, contact your provincial or territorial adoption central authority. They will

  • tell you if you need to contact a licensed adoption agency
  • advise on the adoptions laws of the country that you want to adopt the child from
  • explain the requirement of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions

Not all countries allow international adoptions

Some countries have suspensions or restrictions on international adoptions.

Check if a country allows adoptions by contacting the

2. Bringing your adopted child to Canada

To bring your child to Canada, you must apply for the child’s

  • Canadian citizenship, or
  • permanent residence (immigration)

The process you use depends on your situation and where the child is from.

Check which process to use

The federal government’s role in adoption

The federal government is only responsible for the immigration or citizenship process of an adopted child. The provinces or territories are responsible for the adoption process.

Under the Hague Convention, Canada’s federal Central Authority is Intercountry Adoption Services (IAS), which is part of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


  • collects and distributes adoption information to
    • Canadian provincial and territorial Central Authorities
    • foreign authorities
  • helps with communication, cooperation and coordination
    • between federal and provincial and territorial Central Authorities
    • within the federal government
    • with foreign Central Authorities or adoption authorities
  • helps to address issues such as unethical and irregular adoption practices

Health care, travel health and adoption

Find information on

  • the health needs of adopted children
  • travel health for adoptive parents

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