In the quest for Smart City (SC) development, numerous examples of ‘good practices’ have circulated in national and international policy arenas. Learning from good practices elsewhere is a common approach for cities to initiate and develop SC policies of their own. Nevertheless, because of political, legal and cultural differences across countries and cities, policies will always be context dependent, and prosper under specific conditions. There is a vast literature on policy transfer and policy mobility, but much of it utilizes different concepts (i.e., policy translation, policy learning, and policy diffusion). Nonetheless, a critical omission they all share is limited concern for context-dependence and lack of prescriptive clues. Addressing both omissions would lead to a framework in which learning from good SC policy practices, formulating lessons, transferring them, and then adjusting them to fit the recipient's needs is taken up systematically in a stepwise manner. To develop a theoretical framework for Smart City adoption, this study brings together variegated existing literature under the heading ‘policy transplantation’ and synthesizes existing insights into a prescriptive procedure policymakers can follow. A systematic literature review is conducted to identify all key elements and sub-elements associated with SC policy transplantation, leading to a theoretical framework. This (prescriptive) theoretical framework is subsequently validated using an expert group and illustrated through a real-life case. The framework can be used as an analytical lens by researchers, but also constitutes a practical tool to guide policymakers aiming to use insights from good practices and implement them in line with their own contextual setting. Conducting contextual assessment before transplanting a SC policy is essential.