Surrogacy overseas: new immigration guidance for UK parents

June 22, 2013

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has published updated guidance on the immigration procedures for UK parents who have children born through surrogacy abroad.  The rules have not been changed, but they are now set out much more clearly than before.  The new guidance also contains helpful practical information about what documents need to be included in applications.

If a child is born through surrogacy abroad, UK law applies its own rules on parentage irrespective of the legal position in the birth country.  The rules trip up many parents since, even if their child’s foreign birth certificate or court order records them as the legal parents, the child will not automatically be entitled to a British passport.  British nationality law treats the surrogate (and if she is married her husband) as the legal parents – irrespective of biology.  The child may therefore inherit British nationality from his or her parents, but may not, depending on the circumstances.  If the child is not British, there are discretionary procedures to follow to get the documentation needed to bring the child into the UK (to have the child registered as a British citizen, or to obtain an entry clearance visa).  The new guidance sets out these procedures much more clearly.

These rules apply to children born through surrogacy anywhere in the world, most commonly India, the Ukraine and the USA.  Typically the fastest route home to the UK is from the USA (although to avoid breaching immigration control parents need more than a US passport to travel).

There is more information about international surrogacy law on our website, or you can contact us for advice on your personal situation.  We are the UK’s most experienced surrogacy lawyers, having dealt with virtually all the international surrogacy cases which have made the law in the UK, including the very first.  We have also long campaigned for better immigration laws for surrogacy, helping create the policy which has allowed entry clearance to be given on a discretionary basis, and in 2010 winning a change to the legislation which allows British nationality to be conferred automatically on children awarded a parental order.

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