Passport office mistake turns parents’ hair grey

I don’t know if many of you parents of donor conceived children have tried applying for a passport for your child recently, but if you do there is currently some very misleading information on the website of the Gov.UK Guide “Get a Passport for your Child”.  In fact it’s not only misleading for parents of DC children but for those who have conceived through straight IVF as well.  Section 7 Children Born Through Assisted Reproduction or Surrogacy, confuses simple assisted reproduction, with donated gametes or not, where a child is born to the couple or individual who will be raising the infant, with surrogacy where a Parental Order is required in order to establish legal parenthood and thereby citizenship.  DC Network’s attention was drawn to this mistake by a frantic member who had conceived her child by egg donation outside of the UK, and on first reading of the Guide (which ought to be authoritative) thought that this was disallowing her from being able to apply for a British passport for her child. The baby was born in the UK to married parents who are UK citizens…a no brainer with regard to citizenship of the child, no matter where he or she was conceived.

On being contacted by DCN’s Chairman, the Passport Office was at first very defensive, blaming the mistake (if there was one because they wouldn’t own up to it) on ‘the web site people’.  A subsequent email said that it looked like there might be some problem and that they would be looking into it.

DCN’s member has now been reassured, but others applying for passports should watch out for this trip-wire and step over it.

March 2014 update in response to posts on Fertility Friends:  After much prodding the Passport Office finally admitted that this was a mistake and refers ONLY to surrogacy.  They said they would be taking the wording down from their website and changing the guidance.  They clearly have not yet done so.  If you have had a child by egg, sperm or double donation, you (and your partner) are a UK citizen and your child was born in the UK, then you are entitled to a British passport for your child and do NOT have to declare donor assisted conception, wherever you conceived.

November 2016 update:  It has taken nearly three years to get the Passport Office to change their website and the printed materials available in Post Offices etc. to reflect the correct position with regard to children conceived by assisted (donor) conception anywhere in the world but born in the UK to British citizens, put right.  The only situation that may require further documentation or evidence is where British citizenship is sought via someone other than the birth mother and the birth took place abroad.  In all other cases there is no need whatsoever to declare donor assisted conception on the passport forms of a child.  Huge thanks have to go to Walter Merricks, Chair of DC Network, whose dogged persistence in this matter has finally paid off.


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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2 Responses to Passport office mistake turns parents’ hair grey

  1. sarah says:

    British law may be annoying because of writing mistakes. But US law on obtaining passports for donor conceived children born outside of the US is truly frightening. And there is no mistake — and no immediate plans to review their draconian and outdated laws.

    As the recent case of US citizen and single mother Elli Lavi (who gave birth in Israel via egg donation) reveals, the US will only give citizenship to DC children born abroad, if the child is ‘biologically connected’ to the child.

    So here in Britain, a US citizen mother with a UK citizen father, going through all the proper UK channels for egg donation, technically (if asked by the US embassy) could have her child denied US citizenship.

    The US Embassy in Israel (perhaps one of the only embassies to spell this out) says:

    An excellent legal analysis of the strangeness of the Lavi case can by found here:

    Perhaps DCN could look into this too.

  2. oliviasview says:

    Thank you Sarah for drawing attention to this extraordinary anomaly. I was aware that something of this sort had happened but did not know the details. Very helpful to have the links too.

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