Bringing home baby – how long does it take to travel home with your child after surrogacy overseas?

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If you are considering pursuing an international surrogacy arrangement, one of the first questions on your mind is likely to be how long it will take before you can get home with your baby after the birth.

Once your child has medical clearance to travel, you may be boarding a plane home within a couple of weeks of birth. Alternatively, you may face a wait of several months. This largely depends on where your child is born and therefore the necessary process to obtain their passport or travel clearance paperwork.

Of all the surrogacy-friendly destinations, the USA arguably offers the most straightforward route home for surrogate babies. This is because, due to rights steeped in US immigration law history, any child born on American soil is treated as a citizen of the USA and entitled to a US passport reflecting that. It is possible to obtain such a passport within a matter of days, on which your child can practically travel back to the UK (subject to entry clearance being given at the UK border).

In other common surrogacy destinations, you child will not enjoy the same local citizenship rights. Instead, you will need to apply for either a British passport for him or her (which is not always an automatic entitlement, even if both parents are British) or an entry clearance visa, enabling your child to come into and reside in the UK for a specified period of time (during which you will apply to resolve the outstanding parental and nationality law aspects).

The wait for a British passport can vary from between 8 weeks to 8 months in cases we have seen. This is largely because the application, wherever submitted, has to be couriered to and dealt with at Her Majesty’s Passport Office in Liverpool, and also due to the additional checks and safeguarding which take place following an application on behalf of a surrogate child.

Of all the surrogacy destinations, India is known to involve the longest waits for issue of a British passport. The recent story of Chris and Michele Newman serves as a harsh reminder of the realities for real families of such severe delays.

In order to ensure you are prepared for the process and likely time frame involved in obtaining the necessary travel documents for your child after birth, it is important to seek specialist advice. For more information on international surrogacy, including nationality and immigration law aspects, please contact Nicola Scott.

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