South Korea

Adopting a child from South Korea

Who can adopt?

Who can adopt? Who can’t adopt?
Married couples Same sex couples
De facto couples
Single people

Please note: South Korea has informed Australia that the South Korean Central Authority will not be accepting new applications from Australian prospective adoptive parents in 2023.

Children you can adopt from South Korea

The majority of children needing intercountry adoption are male and aged up to 2 years. Approximately one-third of children have special needs.

Specific eligibility criteria to adopt from South Korea

If you’re interested in adopting a child from South Korea, you need to meet the eligibility criteria of your state or territory central authority. You will also need to meet the following South Korea criteria:


  • you must have been married for 3 years
  • you can’t be single
  • you can’t be a same sex or de facto couple


Both you and your partner need to be:

  • at least 20 years older than your child
  • you can’t be older than 44 years and 11 months when your file is submitted
  • the age limit can be waived if you’re adopting a sibling of a child you have already adopted. This needs to be approved by the Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • you can be granted special permission if you’re aged between 45 and 50 at the time your home study is completed and are:
    • of Korean descent (either you or your partner)
    • an adoptee (either you or your partner)
    • an adoptive parent of a Korean child


Psychological testing

  • you and your partner need to undergo an objective assessment and projective assessment from a psychologist


  • you need to have control of your condition and provide your latest HbA1c test and information about obesity, hypertension and dyslipidaemia


  • you can’t have had a seizure in the last 5 years

Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis)

  • your condition must be stable and you can’t have been admitted to hospital for the condition

Arthritis or chronic back, neck, muscular or joint pain

  • you shouldn’t need analgesics regularly nor have a physical disability. You can’t have been hospitalised for the condition in the past 5 years


  • you must have finished cancer treatment over 5 years ago, without relapse, and shouldn’t have a physical disability

Hearing or vision impairment

  • you should be able to go about your daily routine with or without hearing aids or glasses
  • you aren’t eligible if you have a severe hearing impairment, social blindness or are unable to drive due to vision problems

Mental health

  • if you suffer any mental illness, you must have held the same job for at least 2 years and never attempted suicide. You need a letter from your GP and may need further psychological testing
  • you can’t apply if you have schizophrenia
  • if you have severe depression you can only apply if it hasn’t resulted in hospitalisation and has been under control for at least 5 years
  • if you have bipolar you will only be considered if your condition is mild and well controlled with or without medication, and you follow your GP’s advice


  • you should only have a mild form with no vital organ involvement. You may need to provide a letter from your GP

Coronary artery disease, hypertension, dyslipidaemia

  • your condition must be under control and you must follow a sensible diet and exercise program
  • you can’t smoke and you must follow your GP’s advice

Hepatitis B and C

  • you must have a normal liver function test


  • you must have a BMI of less than 30

Other conditions

  • you can’t apply if you:
    • are HIV+
    • had an organ transplant
    • have myasthenia gravis
    • have chronic liver disease
    • have neurofibromatosis or multiple sclerosis
    • have 2 or more mild to moderate medical conditions
  • other medical conditions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis

Your citizenship

  • at least one of you must be an Australian citizen


  • you can’t apply if you practice a religion that doesn’t allow blood transfusions, unless you’re prepared to sign a statement consenting to blood transfusions

Number of children in your family

  • you can’t have more than 5 dependent children (including your adopted child)

Criminal record

  • you need to supply your criminal record check

Character references

  • you need to provide 3 written references from neighbours, co-workers or friends, which need to include:
    • name, date and signature of the referee
    • stamp and signature from your state and territory central authority

Waiting times

South Korea has a limited number of exit permits allocated to Australia for the purpose of intercountry adoption. Talk to your state and territory central authority about available quotas for your state or territory.

The current waiting time is between 12 and 18 months from when South Korea accepts your file.

Cost of adopting a child from South Korea

The estimated fee is US$19,500.

Other fees

On top of state and territory central authority fees, there are other expenses such as:

  • translation fees
  • travel and accommodation costs
  • incidentals

Travel to South Korea

You will need to travel twice to meet your child:

  1. First trip to South Korea
    a. prospective adoptive parents/family have two meetings with matched child
    b. initial court hearing
  2. Second trip to South Korea
    a. final court hearing
    b. completion of visa process and family travel back to Australia with adopted child

The time between the 2 hearings can be between 4 and 7 weeks. If you have children, they are encouraged to travel with you.

You will be able to take your child home with you after the final court hearing.

After the adoption

All adoptions completed in South Korea are recognised when coming back to Australia.

Under South Korea’s Special Adoption Act, your state and territory central authority will complete post-adoption supervision for a year.

You may also need to complete post-placement reports for your state or territory central authority.

South Korea facilitates ongoing (non-identifying) exchanges between adoptees and their birth families. South Korea will keep information about your adopted child to be passed on to birth families if they request the information.

Immigration and citizenship for your child

Once you have the adoption certificate, your child is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship. The application usually takes 10 days to process. You can then apply for an Australian passport so they can travel back to Australia with you.

Your child could also travel to Australia on adoption visa (subclass 102). When you enter Australia, you need to apply for ‘citizenship by conferral’, as soon as possible.

Hague Convention information

South Korea will attempt to place a child within a family in South Korea before deciding if a child can be placed for intercountry adoption.

The central authority in South Korea is the Eastern Social Welfare Society.

More information