UK government withdraws emergency passport scheme for surrogate babies born in Ukraine

NGA Law has been notified that emergency travel documents will no longer be issued routinely for British surrogate babies born in Ukraine. We understand that the Foreign Office and HM Passport Office have made a joint decision to withdraw the emergency scheme – put in place in March 2022 – which has to date helped bring 46 British babies home quickly and safely from war-torn Ukraine. 

What does the decision mean in practice for babies born through surrogacy in Ukraine?

Going forward, British parents of babies born in Ukraine are being told they must apply in person at the Visa Application Centre in Kyiv and wait for a full UK passport to be issued for their child, with a quoted timescale of ‘at least 17 weeks’. It is a devastating blow for the small number of families still expecting babies through surrogacy in Ukraine, who now face being stranded in a war-zone for an extended period with their newborn children.

What is the context for the government’s U-turn?

While we support the Foreign Office advice that British intended parents should not commission surrogacy arrangements in Ukraine, there are still a small number of intended parents who were committed to surrogacy in Ukraine before the outbreak of the war whose babies have not yet been born, making the government’s change of policy premature. Whatever the background, risking the lives of newborn British children is not the right way to discourage parents from engaging in surrogacy in Ukraine. It is not safe to deliberately leave British babies stranded for months in a country which, according to the Foreign Office’s own advice, poses an imminent threat to life. It also puts the UK wildly out of step with other countries, which are continuing to issue travel documents within days of the birth of children in Ukraine. 

Having been instrumental in getting the emergency travel document scheme put in place for Ukraine surrogacy families in March 2022, Natalie has written to the Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary urging them to reconsider this policy change and to continue the emergency travel document scheme while the war is ongoing. 

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