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 At the same time, that Act repealed the Act on International Legal Relations concerning Adoption (1971:796).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.
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.
Residence permit for a child
If the child does not receive Swedish citizenship when adopted, you need to apply for a residence permit for the child. The child will then always be granted a temporary residence permit, usually for two years. A temporary residence permit cannot be granted if the child does not have a valid passport. The fact that the child does not have a passport does not, however, prevent an application for a residence permit from being submitted for the child and for processing of the case to commence.
Before a residence permit can be granted, the child's passport must be checked. Once the processing has started, the Swedish Migration Agency will send a request to book an appointment at an embassy or consulate-general to show the passport. The requirement to show your passport in person does not apply to children under the age of five, it is sufficient that the parent brings the child's passport to the visit. However, if the child needs a residence permit card, they must come along to be photographed for it.
Applying for a residence permit
Adoption mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation and/or in accordance with the Hague Convention
If the adoption is mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation and/or in accordance with the Hague Convention you fill in the form Application for residence permit in the case of adoptions mediated by a Swedish adoption organisation, 1744 and send it directly to
Swedish Migration Agency
601 70 Norrköping
Adoption not mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation
If the adoption is not mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation, you fill in the form Residence permit in the case of adoptions not mediated by a Swedish adoption organisation, 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.
Application for residence permit for a child who has been, or will be, adopted – Adoption that is not negotiated by a Swedish adoption organisation, form 171011 (in English) Pdf, 3.2 MB, 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.
In most cases, you will have to pay a fee.
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.
For an adoption mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation, you have to include
- copies of the child’s passport
- a certificate by an authorised adoption organisation
- the social welfare committee’s consent according to 6 ch. Section 12 of the Social Services Act stats that you may receive a child for permanent care and upbringing the social welfare committee’s consent and the report that formed the basis for the consent
- 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)
- approval of the adoption procedure from the Agency for Family Law and Parental Support (MFoF) (if it is an individual adoption mediated in accordance with the Hague Convention)
- possibly a separate paper with the child’s opinion.
For a private adoption (an adoption not mediated by an authorised Swedish adoption organisation) you have to include
- adoption decision in the original, with Swedish or English translation
- permission of the social service department in accordance with Chap. 6, § 12 of the Social Services Act for the parent(s) to take a child for permanent care and upbringing
- the investigation that forms the basis for the social service department’s permission
- approval for carrying out the adoption by the Family Law and Parental Support Authority (MFoF)
- applicable adoption legislation in the country where the adoption was concluded, with Swedish or English translation
- documents proving dual citizenship (if the adoptive parents have dual citizenships)
- documents that show the proper authorities in the child’s country of origin have issued a decision on custody
- power of attorney from the legal guardian to the adoptive parents to represent the child when applying for a residence permit (if the adoptive parents do not have custody of the child)
- consent for the child to be adopted, signed by the biological parents or other legal guardian
- consent for the child to settle in Sweden, signed by the biological parents or other legal guardian
- optionally a separate sheet of paper with the child's views.
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 were you submitted your 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.
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.
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.