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Residence permits for children who have been or are going to be adopted

A child living in a country outside the EU who has been adopted or is going to be adopted may need a residence permit in order to move to Sweden. In some cases the child becomes a Swedish citizen through the adoption. If so, the child does not need a residence permit.

Requirements for residence permits in Sweden

For the child to be given a residence permit, you must, as the person adopting the child, have the right to be in Sweden or be a Swedish citizen or a citizen of another Nordic country. The child you adopt must be unmarried. The adoption must also be valid in Sweden through:

  • the Act (2018:1289) on Adoption in International Situations or
  • the Act (1997:191) consequent on Sweden’s accession to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption or
  • the Intercountry Adoption Intermediation Act (1997:192)
  • the Children and Parents Code (1949:381)
  • the Social Services Act (2001:453)

The Act on Adoption in International Situations entered into force on 1 September 2018. At the same time, that Act repealed the Act on International Legal Relations concerning Adoption (1971:796). The old Act is still applied to foreign adoption decisions issued before the new Act entered into force.

Different ways of adopting a child

Intercountry adoptions can take place in several ways. Which way is used depends partly on which country the child comes from.

If someone wants to adopt a child from another country, the main rule is that the adoption must be carried out via an authorised adoption organisation.

In exceptional cases it is possible to adopt without the mediation of an adoption organisation. This is called a private adoption. Special reasons are required for this. Then the Family Law and Parental Support Authority (MFoF) has to examine, before the child leaves its country of origin, whether the private adoption is acceptable, i.e. whether there are special reasons and whether the way in which the adoption is being carried out is certain. The applicant is then given permission to adopt without going through an adoption organisation in Sweden. Before MFoF carries out that examination, the municipal social welfare committee has to have given the prospective adoptive parent or parents consent to the adoption. A child who is resident abroad must not be adopted without consent by someone in Sweden. Only a person who the social welfare committee considers suitable to adopt is given consent. If you bring a child to Sweden without having such a consent you can be sentenced to a fine.

The conditions for the adoption are generally examined and decided in the country from which the child is being adopted. In many cases a decision by a Swedish district court is also needed.

The rules about how an adoption has to be carried out are there to ensure that the best interests of the child are taken into account. It is important to follow these rules. If things are not done correctly when an adoption is carried out, there is the risk that the adoption will not be valid in Sweden and that the child will not be able to come here.

Read more about adoptions and the adoption process on the website of the Family Law and Parental Support Authority (MFoF)external link, opens in new window

Transfer of custody

Some countries do not have adoptions and only decide to transfer custody (e.g. kafalah, korshasho) instead. A transfer of custody is not an adoption. Foreign decisions on custody do not apply in Sweden unless they have a legal basis. Such a basis is provided by the Brussels II Regulation of 2005 and by the Act concerning Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Decisions relating to Custody, etc. and concerning the Return of Children (1989:14).

Swedish citizen through adoption

A child can become a Swedish citizen through adoption. Then the child does not need a residence permit.

Read more about automatic citizenship for adopted children

Permanent residence permit or temporary residence permit

If the adoption is has been completed when the child moves to Sweden, the child can be given a permanent residence permit. If the adoption is not finished, the child can be given a temporary residence permit first pending a decision on the completion of the adoption. A temporary residence permit cannot be granted if the child does not have a valid passport. However, if the child does not have a passport, this does not prevent an application being submitted for a residence permit for the child and a start being made on processing of the application.

Applying for a resi­dence permit

You can apply online for a residence permit for the child.

In most cases, you will have to pay a fee.

Application fees for residence permits

For an adoption mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation, you have to include

  • a certificate that the adoption has been carried out by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation
  • the social welfare committee’s consent and the report that formed the basis for the consent
  • copies of the pages in the child’s passport, if the child has one, showing personal data, a photo, country of issue, period of validity and whether the child has a permit to live in countries other than their country of origin
  • documents showing that the adoption case is in progress or that there is a decision under the Hague Convention (if the adoption is being carried out under the Hague Convention)

For a private adop­tion (an adop­tion not medi­ated by an autho­rised Swedish adop­tion orga­ni­sa­tion) you have to include

  • the social welfare committee’s consent and the report that formed the basis for the consent
  • approval of the adoption procedure from MFoF
  • an original of the adoption decision
  • the applicable adoption legislation in the country where the adoption was approved
  • copies of the pages in the child’s passport, if the child has one, showing personal data, a photo, country of issue, period of validity and whether the child has a permit to live in countries other than their country of origin
  • a consent to the child settling in Sweden from the child’s legal guardian (if the adoptive parents do not have the custody of the child)
  • a document proving the citizenship of the adoptive parent if the person adopting the child has dual citizenship
  • any document showing that the competent authority in the child’s country of origin has decided on custody
  • a power of attorney from the legal guardian that gives the adoptive parents the right to represent the child in the residence permit case (if the adoptive parents do not have custody of the child)
  • a document showing that the adoption case is in progress or that there is a decision under the Hague Convention (if the adoption is being carried out under the Hague Convention)

All documents you include should be translated into Swedish or English by an authorised public translator. A copy of the original document must always be included.

Check that the information on the documents you send is clearly visible. On passport copies, numbers and characters at the top and bottom of the passport pages must also be clearly visible.

After the decision

When the decision in a private adoption has been completed, it is sent to the embassy or consulate-general chosen in the online application. When you are going to collect the child’s decision, you have to bring your passport and the child's passport. The decision is also sent to the adoptive parents’ address in Sweden.

Websites of Swedish embassies and consulates-generalexternal link, opens in new window

If the adoption is mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation, the decision is sent to the adoptive parents’ address in Sweden.

If the Migration Agency refuses the child’s application

If the Migration Agency refuses the application, you can appeal the decision within three weeks of the day you received the decision. There is information about how you do so in the decision.

If the child is granted a residence permit

If the child is granted a residence permit, they will be given a residence permit card. The card includes the child's fingerprints and a photo of the child. The fingerprints and a photo are only stored on the card's chip. Children under the age of 6 do not need to give fingerprints.

If the child needs a visa to travel to Sweden, they will need the residence permit card when they travel to Sweden. So the child will be photographed and have their fingerprints taken at the embassy or consulate-general.

When the residence permit card is ready, the embassy or consulate-general will release or send the finished card to the child. Bear in mind that it may take up to four weeks to produce and deliver the card to the embassy or consulate-general after you have received your residence permit decision. When the child enters Sweden, they have to present their residence permit card along with a valid passport.

Read more about residence permit cards

Children who do not need a visa to travel to Sweden can travel without the residence permit card, and will then have to be fingerprinted and photographed at the Migration Agency after arriving in Sweden. The child should bring a copy of the residence permit decision to present when they enter Sweden.

Make an appointment at the Swedish Migration Agency for fingerprinting and photographing if the child can travel to Sweden without a visa

Before you begin your application

The Migration Agency recommends that you use a computer when you make your application and that you use Internet Explorer.

Support for online applications

Read more about the requirements for an online application

Contact our technical support for online services

If you are not applying online

Adop­tion medi­ated by an autho­rised Swedish adop­tion orga­ni­sa­tion and/​​​or in accor­dance with the Hague Conven­tion

If you cannot apply online, fill in form Residence permit in the case of adoptions mediated by a Swedish adoption organisation, number 1744 and send it directly to

Swedish Migration Agency
Tillståndsenheten
601 70 Norrköping
Sweden

Residence permit in the case of adoptions mediated by a Swedish adoption organisation, form number 1744 (in Swedish)PDF

Adop­tion not medi­ated by an autho­rised Swedish adop­tion orga­ni­sa­tion

If you cannot apply online, you fill in form Residence permit in the case of adoptions not mediated by a Swedish adoption organisation, number 170011. The application has to be handed in at a Swedish embassy or consulate-general in the country where the child lives. The application form says what documents you have to enclose.

Adoption not negotiated by a Swedish adoption organisation, form number 171011 (in English)PDF

Uppehållstillstånd vid adoption som inte förmedlas genom en svensk adoptionsorganisation, blankett nummer 170011 (in Swedish)PDF

Websites of Swedish embassies and consulates-generalexternal link, opens in new window

If there is not a Swedish embassy or consulate-general in the country where you live, you should contact the closest neighbouring country in which there is a Swedish embassy or consulate-general that you have a permit to travel to. Not all Swedish embassies and consulates-general process migration cases. Therefore check in advance that the embassy you want to visit processes migration cases.

If you are applying at an embassy or consulate-general, you pay the fee when you hand in your application. For information about fees, you should contact the embassy or consulate-general concerned since they do not follow the same rules for fees as the Swedish Migration Agency.

Last updated: 2020-02-28

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