You have adopted a child abroad and would like to know the administrative procedures for entering this event in the Swiss civil status register (Infostar).

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International Adoption

Adoptions abroad are normally recognised in Switzerland when pronounced in the country of residence or citizenship of the adopter or adopting spouses (Federal Act on Private International Law (PIL SR 291)).

Federal Act on Private International Law (SR 291) (de, fr, it)

Numerous countries have signed the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (HCA-93; SR This Convention rules the cooperation between the relevant authorities of the country of origin of the child and of the receiving State.

Federal Office of Justice – The Hague Convention Intercountry Adoption (de, fr, it)

You will find some very useful information on the subject of international adoption on the webpage of the Federal Office of Justice.

Federal Office of Justice – International adoption

Documents required for registration in the Swiss civil status register

Adoptions carried out abroad within or outside the 1993 Hague Convention (HCA-93) are entered into the Swiss civil status register by decision of the competent cantonal civil status authority (Art. 32 IPLA and Art. 23 CivStO).

As a rule, the originals of the following adoption documents must be submitted to the Swiss representation with any necessary legalisations for forwarding to Switzerland:

  • birth certificate of the child before adoption
  • adoption decision mentioning the place where it was granted (if possible with a statement of enforceability)
  • birth certificate of the child after adoption
  • if applicable, certificate that the adoption was made in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention (HCA-93) within the meaning of Article 23 (“Certificate of Conformity of Intercountry Adoption”)

These documents are intended for the competent civil status authority and will not be returned.

Authorisation to enter Switzerland

The adopted child may require authorisation to enter Switzerland, for example because no Swiss passport can yet be issued to them as the adoption has not yet been entered in the Swiss civil status register; because they have become stateless (where the law of the child's country of origin provides for the loss of their original nationality following adoption); or because their original nationality is subject to an entry visa (where they still hold a valid foreign passport).

When full adoption of the child is granted to at least one Swiss parent in a contracting state of the HCA-93, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Convention, the central federal authority, i.e. the Federal Office of Justice, is the sole authority competent to give authorisation to issue a document allowing the child to enter Switzerland (Art. 10 HCAA).

As a rule, the cantonal migration authority is competent to decide on the granting of a visa or assurance of a residence permit to the child (Art. 8 AdO) in other situations.

Visa – Entry into and residence in Switzerland

Generally speaking, it is not possible for Swiss citizens to adopt a child in China. China has agreements on inter-country adoption with 17 countries but Switzerland is not among them. Furthermore, China has declined an attempt from the Swiss government to establish such an agreement in 2006.

However, a Swiss citizen may qualify as adoptive parent if one of the following criteria is met: 

  • Adoption of a relative with Chinese roots (e.g. niece, nephew). The degree of kinship has to exist.
  • Adoption of a stepchild (wife/husband must possess the Chinese nationality).
  • If a Swiss citizen is also a citizen of one of the countries with whom China has an agreement on inter-country adoption, he/she can adopt a child based on that nationality. The adoption would occur according to that country’s law and Switzerland thereafter recognizes the adoption based on to the private international law.

Additional information