Adopt a child

Consult information on the adoption process. Learn how and where you may apply to adopt a child.

Service channels

  • At the Headquarters of the District Social Security Center in your area of residence, at the Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Lisbon , if you live in the municipality of Lisbon, in the Social Security Institute of the Azores , if you live in the Azores or at the Social Security Institute of Madeira , if you reside in Madeira.


    At any time, during business hours.

    Search for a point of service near you:

Who can adopt a child?

Where adopt a child?

You may apply to adopt a child at one of the following services:

What are the documents and requirements to adopt a child?

  • Forms

    The forms are provided in the first training session for adoption.

  • Documents (of the applicants to adoption)

    • An update birth certificate
    • A valid identification document (Citizen Card, identity document, passport)
    • A certificate from the Parish Council, if they have a non-marital relationship
    • A criminal record certificate for adoption purposes (of all household members over 16 years old)
    • A certificate of usual residence
    • A medical certificate form to be filled in by your doctor
    • A copy of the last tax return statement or the receipts of your received income: the receipt from the month prior to the application for adoption (if you receive a fixed salary) or the receipts from the three months prior to the application for adoption (if your income vary).
    • Social Security identification number, if you do not submit the Citizen Card.
  • Documents only necessary for foreign citizens living in Portugal

    • Certificate on adoption matters from their home country.
    • Criminal record certificate for adoption purposes issued by the authorities of their home country.

What is the Price to adopt a child?

The preparation, assessment, selection and monitorization of the applicants and adoptive family are free of charge.

The applicants shall bear the expenses with the:

  • trips and accommodation which the applicants may need during the process
  • the child, from the moment the coexistence begins.

How adopt a child?

1. Go to the Social Security service of your area of residence

There, declare your will to adopt a child.

2. Attend an information session of the Training Plan for Adoption

In this initiative, you will be informed on:

  • the objectives of adoption
  • what is necessary to be able to adopt (the conditions you must meet)
  • the adoption process (application, forms and necessary documents).

3. Submit your application

The application must be submitted at the Social Security’s adoption services of your area of residence. When you submit the necessary documents, you will receive a submission of application certificate.

4. The services assess if you meet the necessary conditions to adopt

The process to access if you meet the necessary conditions for the adoption is initiated, which implies a psychosocial assessment (interviews, psychological tests, home visit, among others).

This stage lasts for, at least, 6 months and includes a second training session - which is aimed to adjust the individuals’ expectations on adoption to the reality.

At the end of this stage, the individuals are informed if they meet or do not meet the necessary conditions to adopt.

5. The applicants are registered in a waiting list

The individuals who meet the necessary conditions to adopt are registered in a national list of adoption applicants.

When there are children who may be adopted, the Social Security technicians consult the list to search for applicants.

6. Wait for an adoption proposal

When the characteristics of a child to be adopted coincide with the capabilities and the request of one applicant in the list, the Social Security makes an adoption proposal and provides all of the necessary information for the individual or couple to make a decision.

7. The child and the adopter meet
If the proposal is accepted, the transition period begins. During this period, the child and the applicant to adoption get to know each other and assess if the conditions for the development of an affective relationship are met.

8. The recognition of the child as the adopter’s child is requested to the court
After a period of coexistence with the child (during which the Social Security technicians monitor, support and assess the child’s integration in the new family, if emotional ties are created, the final recognition of the child as the adopter’s child is requested to the court.

Usually, this period of coexistence with the child - known as “pre-adoption” - lasts for 6 months.

9. The adoption becomes final
The adoption process ends - and the adoption becomes final - when a court sentence recognizes the child as the adopter’s child.

If the family wants, after the court sentence which recognizes the child as the adopter’s child, the social security services may monitor and support in the family living challenges.

To learn more about the adoption process, consult the practical guide of Social Security.

What is the support legislation?

Practical guides