At the hospital: The Indian Birth Certificate

You'll be overcome with all kinds of emotions when you see your baby.  But you need to stay grounded - you need to remember to get paperwork for the birth certificate moving.  You'll need the birth certificate before you are able to visit the U.S. Consulate to get a passport, and likely for other country's consulates as well.  And you need the passport before you can get an exit visa. 

In Indian surrogacy births, the names of the genetic or intended parents are currently put on the Indian birth certificate. There has been some discussion about whether it is legal to put anything other than the gestational carrier's name on the birth certificate, particularly from one of the Mumbai IVF facilities that does not offer surrogacy. While I'm not a lawyer, several things seem certain. First, with the Baby Manji case, India's courts have tacitly acknowledged and accepted surrogacy. Second, the hospitals are putting the genetic/intended parents names on the birth certificates today, and have been for many years. That being said, India is also developing its own legislation on surrogacy, called the ICMR Guidelines. While these haven't been adopted yet (Nov 2009), as currently drafted they will explicitly allow the genetic/intended parents names to be put on the birth certificate. Until these are passed, current practice may be a bit of a grey area.

The Birth Certificate is issued once the local municipality receives the registration from from the Hospital.  In Mumbai, birth certificates are issued by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, also known as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, or BMC.  At Hirinandani, on the day the baby is born, you will be asked to fill out a form in a giant book.  This is the form the BMC uses for the birth certificate.  Fill it out in capital letters and clearly - anything that causes confusion will delay the birth certificate.  The hospital will deliver this form to the BMC.  It is useful to get a copy of the form in case the BMC makes a mistake and you need to get the birth certificate corrected.   

You would expect that there would be a "normal speed" birth certificate, and an "accelerated speed" birth certificate, with published prices that you would pay extra to receive.  India doesn't work this way.  There is only a "normal speed" birth certificate which is quoted at 21 days, but is rumored to sometimes take longer.  To get the birth certificate accelerated, you pay "chai pani" (which is literally translated as "tea money").  This is a "facilitating payment" which some people also call a "bribe"; though there is a difference.  Facilitating payments accelerate an outcome while bribes change the outcome.  As a westerner, you don't know the right way to do this, so you hire someone to do it for you. 

Your choices to quickly get a birth certificate broadly include:

  1. Go through the public relations officer at the hospital.  At Hirinandani, the public relations office was working with a service and charged 5,000 Rupees (Aug 2009).  No guarantee on how long it would take to get the birth certificate, although they were expecting it would take around 7 days. 
  2. Go through a service/person who knows the process.  Many people seem to use Dilip, who was recently (August) charging 3,000 Rupees. 
  3. Goto the local municipal office (in Mumbai the BMC) and go through the process yourself. 

Several pieces of advice:

  1. Make sure you write all information very clearly on the hospital birth registration form and on the letter to the BMC so that the birth certificate is not printed incorrectly. It's an even bigger bureaucratic hassle to get it fixed.
  2. Make copies of the hospital registration form and the letter you send so that if there is an error, you can prove it wasn't yours.
  3. Don't ever base your plans on when you expect to get the birth certificate. Our experience is that India has not yet learned to “under-promise and over-deliver”, rather you are more likely to get “over-promised and under-delivered”. Leave some buffer time, you may need it.

 (This article was taken from a blog post on Peter's Surrogacy Blog)

Comments

Thanks for keeping us posted, you're right the making all the paper work in the right order can spare us of a lot of lost time, especially when you always need to prove your residency in a foreign state. I am lucky that getting a UK birth certificate wasn't as difficult as I expected, everything went smoothly.

Be aware, as of January 21, 2011, BMC has changed its policy regarding issuing Birth Certificates. Now, it requires all Birth Certificates to have the mother’s name filled in. For single dads, it requires the Surrogate’s name be listed as the mother. This has a huge impact on the whole Indian surrogacy industry. It will be more difficult for the parents to bring their babies back to their home country and it will also be difficult to have a clean cut on parental rights, custody and citizenship. As of now, several parents who are in the process of getting Birth Certificates are struggling with this matter. You may wish to contact your clinic to clarify the rule change and its impact on your situation.

Thanks for sharing. Seems like it might actually take a while to get it.

Another blog post about the BMC experience:

First off, the birth certificate. We learned much to our dismay after the babies arrived that the BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation), the bureaucracy that issues birth certificates was imposing the 20 day wait for birth certificates for everyone. Previously with a little greasing they were popping them out in 4 days. But several incidents arose which caused problems in this pipeline. First reports of creative liberties being taken with how the parent fields were being populated by some surrogacy clients using ED's. Second it appears some Westerners, again, were behaving badly when it came time to pay the "facilitators". They would beg them to do whatever was needed to expedite things, then when the merchandise was delivered they would attempt to stiff the "facilitators" with an argument of how inappropriate and corrupt the process was. I don't want to pass judgement on anyone but if you want something "facilitated" be prepared to pay for the service otherwise wait the normal waiting period and stop complaining and making things worse for those who come after you. So it appears some people were getting "free rides" with the birth certs and making a mess for those who come after them. This caused a backlash and for a while it was taking a very long time to issue the birth certs. But things have started to loosen up a bit again. That doesn't mean things are back to normal, just that if you REALLY WANT things expedited, you will have to approach your providers very carefully and tactfully and let them know that you will do whatever is needed and PAY whatever is needed in AS DISCRETE A MANNER as possible to expedite the issuance of the birth cert. If you can convince them to act on your behalf and keep prodding them, eventually they will deliver. But the keyword here is "trust" if they feel they can't trust you they will not work with you. I have met some people who are doing the 20 day wait thing, not sure why they haven't put two and two two-gether yet, but I figure they must have done something or said something to raise flags. The facilitators and their channels within this bureaucracy are all trying to avoid any future problem incidents so they are only working with people they feel will not be problems for them. The US consulate too is aware of this delay and asked me how I was able to get it so quick. I told them the truth. They figured as much. They have no illusions about how things operate in Mumbai.

From: http://bonjourparenthood.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html

Hi to Global Doctors,
I am an Italian citizen who is thinking of going to India and use the services for surrogacy/ivt treatment. I just came across in one of the blogs that I am searching, that for European is very difficult specially France, Italian and German. I would like to know if you can give me any hint of this issue. I have already sent an email to the Italian embassy to get more information but have not received any comment yet.
Thank you and have a wonderful time.
Best,
Jorge Campos

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