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Intercountry adoptions

Intercountry adoption is the adoption of a child of non-Italian citizenship who is declared adoptable by the authorities of his or her country. The adoption is therefore made in that country, before the authorities and according to the national and international laws in force there.

In Italy, the Juvenile Court issues a specific decree of suitability for this type of adoption.

For such an adoption to be effective in Italy, it is necessary to follow special procedures established by Italian and international laws. Otherwise, the foreign adoption will not be considered valid and the child will not even be able to enter our country. What is more, in certain cases, failure to comply with adoption laws constitutes a crime.

The Hague Convention of May 29, 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is the main instrument on which intercountry adoption procedures are based. It is a guarantee both for the rights of children and those who wish to adopt them and for defeating any trafficking in children that may take place for adoption purposes. Italy acceded to this Convention by ratifying it with Law 476/1998, the provisions of which amended Law 184/1983.

The Italian Central Authority for the implementation of the Hague Convention of May 29, 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is the Commission for Intercountry Adoption (C.A.I.).

Applicants for adoption who have obtained a decree of eligibility shall entrust the task of handling the adoption procedure to the authorised agencies, which carry out all the necessary procedures in the child’s country of origin.

The agencies are entrusted with all the functions relating to the procedure of an intercountry adoption, both in Italy and abroad, ranging from the initial information provided to the couple, to the fulfilment of the procedures required in the child’s country of origin. Before Law 476/1998 came into force, the couple initiating the procedure of an intercountry adoption could choose whether or not to use an authorised agency. With the new law, only the agencies authorised by the Intercountry Adoption Commission are entitled to deal with intercountry adoption procedures, on the basis of precise requirements. Their involvement is therefore mandatory.

Once received – from the foreign authority – the proposal to meet with the child to be adopted, the authorised agency shall inform the prospective adoptive parents and assist them for all the necessary visits.

If the couple’s meetings with the child are successfully completed, the adoption order shall be issued by the competent foreign judicial authority. The accredited agency shall subsequently transmit all the adoption documents to the Intercountry Adoption Commission, which shall check their formal and substantial correctness.

If the outcome of checks is positive, the Intercountry Adoption Commission shall issue the “registered authorisation for the adopted child to enter and stay in Italy”.

In this context, the task of our diplomatic-consular network is to cooperate – within the scope of its competence – with the authorised agency for the successful outcome of the adoption procedure (Article 32, paragraph 4, of Law No. 184/1983 as amended by Law No. 476/1998). This activity may involve legalisation and checking of documentation, as well as assistance, where necessary, also by facilitating contacts with the local authorities (particularly in those countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention).

In order to enter Italy, the adopted child shall have an entry visa for adoption, which is affixed on the foreign passport issued by the country of origin.

In order for the visa to be granted by the diplomatic-consular network, the authorisation for the child’s entry and stay in Italy shall be received from the Intercountry Adoption Commission. The visa application shall be processed as quickly as possible to meet the couple’s needs. The actual issuance of the visa, however, shall be subject to the technical processing times.

Pursuant to Article  33 of Law 184/1983, as amended by Law 476/1998, it is forbidden for consular authorities to grant foreign minors a visa to enter the territory of the State for the purpose of adoption outside the cases provided for by law and without the prior authorisation of the Intercountry Adoption Commission.

Once the child has entered Italy, the competent Police Headquarters issues in his or her favor a residence permit for adoption.
The adoption procedure ends with the order by the Juvenile Court to transcribe the adoption measure in the civil status registers. With the transcription, the child becomes an Italian citizen (Article 33, comma 3 of Law 184/1983).


Adoption by Italian couples residing abroad.

Adoption pronounced by the competent Authority of a foreign country at the instance of Italian citizens, who prove at the time of the pronouncement that they have continuously resided in the same country and have had their residence there for at least two years, is recognized for all purposes in Italy by the Juvenile Court, provided that it complies with the principles of the Convention (Article 36 of Law 184/1983). The competent Juvenile Court is that of the place of the couple’s last residence or, if it is not possible to establish which was the last residence, that of Rome.


Canada is signatory of the Convention, entered into force on April 1, 1997.