The main legislation which governs all matters concerning adoption in Tanzania Mainland is the Law of the Child Act; Number 21 of 2009 hereinafter shall be referred to as the Act.


For a foreigner to be allowed to adopt a Tanzanian child there are several conditions which have to be proved to exist as stipulated under the Act.
The Applicant has to prove that:-

(a) The child may not be placed in a foster or adoptive family or be cared for in a manner suitable for the child’s best interest while the child is in Tanzania;

(b) He/she has stayed in Tanzania for at least three consecutive years;

(c) He/she has fostered the child for at least three months under the supervision of a social welfare officer;

(d) He/she does not have any criminal record in his/her country of origin or any other country;

(e) He/she has a recommendation concerning his/her suitability to adopt a child from his/her country’s social welfare officer and other competent authority of his/her permanent country of residence; and

(f) The Applicant’s country of origin respects and recognizes the adoption order.


The Parent(s) of the child must give their consent on the adoption. Once that happens and the Court has granted the adoption, those parents will not have a right to remove the child from the care and possession of the adoptive parents unless if the Court permits and if it is in the best interests of the child.


An application for adoption is made to the High Court of Tanzania, jointly by a husband and wife. In case a married person is the sole applicant, the court shall require the consent of the spouse of that person before the adoption order is made.

The Application has to be supported by an investigation report from the Social Welfare Officer or any other person or a local government authority which may be ordered by the Court. This report is usually filed while the application is pending in court.
The applicants have to notify the Commissioner for social welfare of their intention to adopt the child at least three months before the date when the application for adoption is granted by the Court.

The court will then grant the adoption after it is satisfied that:-

(a) The consent of the parent has been obtained and that the parent understands that adoption will permanently deprive him/her of parental rights over the child.
(b) The adoption will be in the best interest of the child and that the child’s wishes have been considered, in case it is possible for the child to express opinion.
(c) The Applicant will not receive any reward from anyone for adopting the child.


Hand in hand with granting the order of adoption, the Court may give additional orders which include orders:-
(a) Requiring a social welfare officer to represent the best interest of the child;

(b) Requiring a social welfare officer to prepare a social investigation report to assist the Court to determine whether the adoption order is in the best interest of the child or not; or

(c) any other matter as the Court may determine.


The adoption order made by the Court shall contain a direction to the Registrar-General to make an entry in the Adopted Child Register. The Court shall cause the order to be communicated in a prescribed manner to the Registrar-General, and upon receipt of such communications the Registrar-General shall cause compliance to be made with the directions contained in the order both in regard to making any entry in the Registers of Births with the word “Adopted” and in regard to making the appropriate entry in the Register of Adopted Children.


After the court has allowed adoption of the child, if the adoptive parent intends to take the child out of Tanzania permanently, the law requires a notice to be given to the Commissioner for social welfare. The notice should be given within thirty days before departure of the adoptive parent and the adopted child.
Any person who contravenes this requirement of giving notice shall be guilty of an offence and will be subject to prescribed sanctions under the Act.