What is UK law on surrogacy?
If you’re expecting a baby with the help of a surrogate based abroad you may be wondering what impact English law has on your arrangement and if there’s anything you need to do to comply with UK surrogacy rules.
No matter where your child is born, who is named on the foreign birth certificate and what formal legal process you have gone through in your destination country, if you are bringing your child to the UK to settle here as a family or you intend to do so in the future you will need to engage separately with our legislation.
As there is no worldwide synchronisation of surrogacy law, each jurisdiction has its own stance and whilst the UK takes a liberal approach, it also requires intended parents to have their overseas surrogacy arrangements independently ratified by the family court here in order to secure their legal status as parents. As things stand, UK law recognises the surrogate (and her husband, if she is married) as the child’s legal parent irrespective of genetic connection and documentation suggesting otherwise.
The two main aspects to contend with in the UK following an international surrogacy arrangement are:
- Ensuring your child is permitted to enter Britain after birth, and
- Acquiring parental status for your child under English law (this is not an automatic entitlement despite your biological connection, being named on the foreign birth certificate or having been established as legal parents by overseas court order).
It is sensible to have an immigration plan in place so that you can make your child’s passport, nationality or entry clearance visa application as soon as possible after birth. Factors such as where the birth takes place and the marital status of your surrogate will impact upon which routes are open to you for navigating a safe path home.
Once you are home you should apply for a parental order, which will extinguish your surrogate’s legal status (and that of her husband) and reassign it to you fully and permanently. There is a six month deadline (starting at birth) during which you should submit your court application. Although this is a thorough High Court process, involving detailed evidence and paperwork and in which your arrangement will be closely scrutinised, it is now a very well trodden path.
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