What You Need To Travel to Nicaragua for Adoption


Traveling for your adoption is an exciting experience but can also come with some anxiety. Try to be as prepared as possible for the trip and understand it is different than your typical tourism or business trip.

It is important to remember that when you are traveling abroad there are additional safety measure you should consider. Also, if you are adopting from Nicaragua, you will want to take even more safety precautions during such an important trip so to protect yourself, your child and the process.

Some basic travel information for traveling to Nicaragua for an adoption:

International Adoption TravelRequired for travel:

    • Valid passport.
    • For MLJ adoption families, you must have agency approval for travel. Traveling premature could jeopardize your adoption. Often families have connections in Nicaragua and want to visit orphanages or expedite a process; however, MLJ must consider the entire adoption and immigration process and protect the integrity of the adoption process. Attempting to force or expedite an adoption may hurt your adoption or may cause another family delays because the government entities had to deal with your demands instead of another family that was ready to proceed forward. One main complaint from U.S. Embassy and foreign adoption authorities is that American adoptive families are demanding and do not allow for the process to happen but instead want to expedite when it is not appropriate. You should consult with your agency, to determine if an expediting is appropriate in your case.
    • Onward or return ticket. For adoption travel you need a ticket that can be changed, if necessary. Often the time in country can only be approximated and your return flight will have to be changed.
    • Evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay. This is not a typical request, however, you may need to have easy access to records that show your finances, if questioned.
    • Purchase $10 tourist card upon arrival (no visa needed for U.S. citizens). This is done at the Immigration counter upon entry.
    • Entry stamp for standard tourist visits only last for 30-90 days (if you are staying longer, you need to obtain an extension from Nicaraguan Immigration – while this is not always the case, please ask your adoption agency about this issue). US residents do not need a visa.
    • Valid entry stamp in passport in order to leave. You receive a stamp upon arrival in Immigration. Be sure they stamp your passport!
    • $42 departure tax (often this is included with the ticket price, if not, fee can be paid at the airline counter before you leave). Upon arriving to your airline ticket desk, you can ask them direction on paying this departure tax.
    • MUST exit using the same passport in which you entered Nicaragua.
    • Valid identity document – your passport (use a copy of your passport when traveling for non-business matters). Keep the copy or passport with you at ALL times. Be sure you send a copy of your passport to your adoption agency and also leave a copy with an accessible friend or family member in the U.S.

RECOMMENDED for travel and a MUST for adoption travel:

    • Enroll with the U.S. Embassy.
    • Avoid crowds and blockades during protests.
    • Be careful if you go swimming – Nicaragua’s Pacific coast can be dangerous ( “In 2012, three U.S. citizen professional surfers and swimmers drowned in the waters of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.”)
    • Take all necessary precautions when hiking (including but not limited to: wearing appropriate clothes, hire a local guide familiar with terrain, NEVER hike alone). Do not go hiking with your children during a trip for adoption. If you have not yet received your referred child, you could consider an easy hike.
    • Be aware of volcanic activity in case there is a need for evacuation.
    • When flying to remote areas, be aware that flying standards may be less cautious. For an adoption trip, this unlikely but you should be ready for any request from Nicaragua’s Mi Familia or Courts.
    • Download the free Smart Traveler application if you have an appropriate phone.
    • Consult with a physician regarding medical precautions for you and your adoptive child.

There are many other travel requirements, tips and recommendations that you will receive from your adoption agency whether you are adopting from Nicaragua or adopting from Bulgaria. Be sure you review your agency’s travel information. Your trip to Nicaragua can be an amazing time for you to learn about your child’s birth country and bond with your child.

Remember to be flexible, patient and kind, it will help you to enjoy your trip and make your adoption journey more successful!

For more travel information, please click here.

Photo Credit: La Nicoya

For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please contact us.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.