The Paperwork - Prepare Ahead

This will be an exciting time.  But for you, it will be different than other births.  Not only will you need to take care of the baby, but you also have plenty of paper work that needs to be taken care of in order to bring your baby home. 

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)

Getting Australian citizenship for the baby

The Australian citizenship process is well defined (although the process is periodically changed), requiring a DNA test and additional documentation.  The Australian High Commission in India's web site state states:

Applications for Australian citizenship by descent for children born outside Australia as a result of surrogacy arrangements are assessed according to legal requirements set out in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (the Citizenship Act), and the policy guidelines set out in the Australian Citizenship Instructions. 

Under these guidelines, a child born overseas as a result of a surrogacy arrangement may be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of the biological parents is an Australian citizen who has been granted full parental rights by a court of law. 

In addition to the general documents required for applications for Australian citizenship by descent, applications for Australian citizenship by descent for children born in India as a result of surrogacy arrangements need to be accompanied by:

- evidence that the child is the biological child of the intended parent; and
- evidence that this parent is also recognised as the legal parent of the child and that the surrogate mother and her husband or partner (if applicable) has relinquished all parental rights over the child.

Evidence of the above can be given in the form of:

(a) court documentation OR
(b) DNA testing and written advice confirming legal parentage

DNA testing is by far the quickest option (we don't know of anyone who has tried to prove parentage by court documentation) as citizenship will not be granted until this evidence is provided.  Passports will not be issued until citizenship is granted.

The full description with more details can be found at http://www.ausgovindia.com/ndli/vm_surrogacy.html  or  http://www.india.embassy.gov.au/ndli/vm_surrogacy.html.

As the details of the requirements do continue to evolve, it's a good idea to check the pages above.  Most people have also suggested contacting the consulate before traveling, so that they are familiar with your case when you do arrive.  

Other descriptions of the process include: 

Getting Canadian citizenship for the baby

A writeup on getting Canadian citizenship for a baby is in a Baby Dreams...From India with Love forum post.

Getting U.K. citizenship for the baby

Couples seeking U.K. citizenship for their babies have often spent 3 months in India before completing the necessary approvals and paperwork to bring their baby home.  It is important to understand the legal requirements to get your baby's citizenship. 

The London Evening Standard had a short Q&A on surrogacy which included the following:

What are the risks (of surrogacy abroad)?
Agreements are not legally enforceable and a surrogate mother has the right to refuse to hand over the baby if she changes her mind. Also, couples only gain parental rights over the child if they successfully apply for a parental order after six weeks. At this stage the surrogate relinquishes all her rights over the child. An additional complication with foreign surrogacy is that children born in another country could effectively be stateless.

Why would they be stateless?
They are neither recognised as Indian nor as British in the eyes of a court.

Has a British couple ever had problems?
Yes. Last December, a couple whose twins were carried by a surrogate in the Ukraine won a year-long battle over paternity.
Why did they have to go to court?

They had been unable to conceive so used a donor egg which was implanted into the Ukrainian surrogate. But only the husband was recognised as the parent, not his wife.

What happened?
Home Office officials allowed the babies entry to the UK and the couple were awarded parenthood. However the case is regarded by lawyers as a cautionary tale for anyone looking to “hire a womb” abroad.

The best description of requirements to get U.K. citizenship for a baby born through surrogacy in India is at http://1in640715.yuku.com/topic/382.  It states:

If you wish your baby to be a British Citizen you will need to apply to register your baby under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. To do this you should contact the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai who will be able to advise you on the application, including the documents you should include, provide the form (MN1) for you to fill in and forward the application to the Home Office in the UK.

Once your baby is born you will need to apply for a Parental Order (PO) under Section 30 of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act 1990. This transfers the legal rights to you as the intended parents. To qualify for a PO, you must be over 18, married to one other, domiciled in the UK and at least one of you must be genetically related to the baby. You can apply for a PO once your baby is 6 weeks old, and must apply before they are 6 months old. You may find it easier to employ a solicitor in the UK to assist you with this process. The website www.surrogacyuk.org has more details on applying for a PO.

Surrogacy UK also has a good description of the process required for U.K. citizens and some of the potential pitfalls.

If you are a UK couple considering conceiving with a foreign surrogate, you need to take care over conflicts of law on parenthood, and the rule against paying more than reasonable expenses.  Some foreign systems of law allow the intended parents to acquire parenthood status automatically, either through a foreign court process (such as a Californian pre-birth order) or simply by allowing them to be named on the birth certificate (as in India).  However, if you are domiciled here, English law will apply to you which means that you may not be regarded as your child’s legal parents (including for the purposes of entry clearance and citizenship, which can prevent you bringing your child home). 

The solution is for you to apply for a parental order, but if you have paid for a commercial surrogate, this may be difficult.  Most foreign surrogacy arrangements involve a commercial element, but under UK law this will mean that you will have to ask the court to authorise your payments before a parental order will be granted.  This is likely to involve an application to the High Court, and the court will weigh up very carefully the particular circumstances of your case in order to decide whether it should make an exception to the UK’s public policy against commercial surrogacy.

It is wise to seek legal advice before embarking on any international surrogacy arrangement.

The U.K. passed a new parenthood law effective April 6th, 2009.  The HFEA has a FAQ on the law here.   

How does the new parenthood law affect surrogacy arrangements?

The new parenthood law does not change the fact that the woman who gives birth to the child is the legal mother when the child is born.

If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, her husband or civil partner will be the legal father or second legal parent of any child born – unless it is shown that the he/she does not consent to the treatment.

If the surrogate has a partner with whom she is not married to or in a civil partnership, the partner must have consented to being the father/second parent of any child born as a result of treatment in order to be legally recognised as such. The surrogate must have also consented to her partner being recognised as the father/second parent.

If the surrogate is single or has a partner who does not wish to be the father/second parent, the new parenthood law makes it possible for the intended father/second parent to be the legal father/second parent upon birth of the child – but only where they have not provided sperm for the treatment. Both the surrogate and the intended father/second parent will need to consent to this.

As is currently the case, if the intended father has provided sperm for the treatment of the surrogate, he will need to register as a donor and therefore cannot be the father upon birth of the child. If the intended second parent has provided eggs for the treatment of the surrogate she will need to register as a donor but she can also become the legal second parent if the relevant consents are in place.

As is currently the case, the Parental Orders (Human Fertilisation and Embryology) Regulations 1994 and (in Scotland) the Parental Orders (Human Fertilisation and Embryology) (Scotland) Regulations 1994 provide that parental rights and obligations in respect of surrogacy arrangements may, provided certain conditions are met, be transferred from the birth parents to those who commissioned the surrogacy arrangement.

From April 2010 it will be possible for civil partners and two persons who are living as partners in an enduring family relationship (as well as married couples) to apply for a Parental Order (providing that certain conditions are met).

Patients seeking a surrogacy arrangement should seek legal advice.

Additionally:

Information about surrogacy arrangements where the child is not born in the UK.

In proposed surrogacy arrangements, the commissioning couple might not be able to apply for a Parental Order for a number of reasons e.g. they are not married to each other, or neither of them are domiciled in the UK. If the commissioning couple is ineligible for a Parental Order, then the only way in which they can acquire legal parenthood is through adoption.

If the child is born abroad, provided that the commissioning couple are domiciled in the UK, they
may apply for a Parental Order.

It is important that patients considering this an option seek their own legal advice before going ahead.

UK law treats everyone as having a domicile of origin from birth; where the parents are married this will be the domicile of the father. Domicile cannot be lost by going abroad for a holiday, or to stay for a period of time, unless there is no intention of returning to the country of domicile. A domicile of choice can be acquired through a combination of residence and intention to reside permanently in another country which will replace a person’s domicile of origin. If there is in any doubt as to whether this condition can be satisfied, a specialist immigration lawyer should be consulted or alternatively the Home Office may also be able to assist.

Immigration:

If the child is born abroad, the commissioning couple will need to apply for a visa to enable the child to enter the UK while the application for a Parental Order is being processed. Referral to the Home Office is necessary in all cases.

The InfertilityNetworkUK has a paper on Surrogacy in the U.K which states (this is geared more toward surrogacy carried out within the U.K., although it applies to births outside the U.K as well.):

In order to carry out a legal surrogacy in the UK you must be able to apply for a Parental Order.  Applying for a Parental Order a very simple process. Although you do not need a solicitor, some people like to have the peace of mind of employing one.
 
To be granted a Parental Order the Intended Parents must be:
·          Over 18
·          Married to one another (a civil ceremony is not classified in law as a marriage)
·          Domiciled in the UK
·          At least one of the applicants must be genetically related to the child
 
The Intended Parents can apply for a Parental Order once the child has reached 6 weeks of age, but must apply before the child reaches 6 months.

For the most current information about requirements and procedures, contact the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai directly. 

Do your research and seek legal advice. 

 

Getting U.S. citizenship for the baby

You will have to make an appointment with the U.S. consulate to get your baby's passport.  During this process, you'll complete the following documentation:

  • Passport Application
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and
  • Affidavit of Presence in the U.S.
  • Social Security Number application (this can also be done after you get home)

The passport is required in order for the baby to get an exit Visa to leave the country and also to enter the U.S.

The CRBA is issued in lieu of a birth certificate to US citizens abroad. It is considered primary evidence of U.S. citizenship and can be used throughout the childs life for passport applications, school admissions, and other situations that require a U.S. birth certificate.

At present, it takes 7-10 days business after the U.S. consulate has approved the application to get the baby’s Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and passport.  Approval can take additional time if the consulate requires more documentation than you bring to the appointment.

To understand the process, or to confirm any items that are unique to your situation, you can call or email the U.S. Consulate or Embassy before visiting India. Emails to the Mumbai consulate will get an automated response which, at the bottom, will include a note that says:

If these links do not help you find what you need, please resubmit your request using the phrase "Request for Specific Information" in the subject line of your e-mail. We will respond to your inquiry as quickly as possible.

This automated response email includes a link to information on how to obtain a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" at http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/birth_abroad.html. This information is a bit general and does not cover surrogacy.

That page lists additional information/requirements for babies born through Assisted Reproductive Technology - those requirements are http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_1337.html. This information is also a bit general.

After you send an email with a subject line of "Request for Specific Information", you'll actually get a human response.  The consulate is also developing specific information for surrogacy, and will include the most recent versions. The email address is: MUMBAIACS at state.gov. Remember to put "Request for Specific Information" in the subject line if you want to get a human response.

Alternatively, you can call the Mumbai Consulate at +91 22 2363 3611 x4306 and ask for the American Citizen Services Unit.

After your baby has been born, you'll need to call the consulate to schedule your appointment.  If you don't call ahead, the consulate *might* let you come at the end of the day after all other scheduled appointments have been completed.  It's not worth it - make an appointment.  Also be aware of the consulate's holiday schedule - you won't be able to get an appointment on holidays (U.S. and Indian).

Mike and Mike write about their visit to the consulate here (scroll down a bit).  

Main recommendation is to have all your paperwork filled out when you arrive. 

Much of the information covered in the Consultea/embassy responses is included in the following pages, but it pays to request the most current information.  The two attachments the Mumbai embassy will send you are included below.  It seems that procedures do vary from consulate to consulate (Mumbai very strongly recommends DNA testing, Delhi does not - although these policies could evolve), so if you're working with the embassy in Delhi, or another consulate office, contact them directly for their most recent policies. 

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Affidavit of Presence in the U.S.

The following is from http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/transmission_requirements_.html and lists the transmission requirements for U.S. citizenship. Review it carefully to ensure you are eligible to transmit U.S. citizenship to your baby. This primarily applies to the Affidavit of Presence in the U.S., one of the documents you'll have to complete at the consulate.

Reports of Birth: Transmission requirements for U.S. citizenship

Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. The following is a brief description of the various circumstances under which a child born abroad acquires U.S. citizenship.

Child born in wedlock to two U.S. citizens: A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to citizenship, provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required to establish residence.)

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent on or after November 14, 1986: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child. Click here for Affidavit of Physical Presence form.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent between December 24, 1952, and November 13, 1986: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. citizen parent had, prior to the birth of the child, been physically present in the United States for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother: A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother is entitled to U.S. citizenship provided the U.S. citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year at some time prior to the birth of her child. (NOTE: The U.S. citizen mother must have lived continuously for 1 year IN THE UNITED STATES OR ITS OUTLYING POSSESSIONS. Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, may NOT be computed as physical presence in the U.S.)

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father: A child born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen father who is not married to the non-U.S. citizen mother is entitled to U.S. citizenship provided the U.S. citizen father had been physically present in the United States for the period of time as specified in previous paragraphs for children born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen and one non-U.S. citizen parent, either before or after November 14, 1986; and

* a blood relationship between the applicant and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence; and
* the father signs a sworn statement agreeing to provide financial support for the child until s/he reaches the age of 18 years; and
* the father provides a written statement acknowledging paternity; or
* the child is legitimated under local law; or
* paternity is established by a competent court before the child attains the age of 18 years.

I believe that my child has claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?

If you believe that your child has a claim to U.S. citizenship, it will be necessary for the U.S. citizen parent to appear in person at this office in order to execute an application for a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" before a consular officer. At that time, a passport application may also be executed.

What if I do not meet the requirements for transmission of citizenship to my child?

It may be possible for your child to apply for expeditious naturalization or an immigrant visa.

I am over the age of 18 and I believe I have a claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?

If your parent(s) had the prerequisite physical presence in the United States required by U.S. citizenship law in effect at that time, you should e-mail us at [email protected], giving as many details of your situation as possible. We will then let you know if there are any grounds for you to pursue your citizenship claim further.

In an email correspondence, the consulate indicated:

For the Affidavit of presence in the U.S.  I'm 40, have lived outside the U.S. half my life, and have traveled quite a bit.  Do I need to state the precise dates I lived in the U.S., excluding dates I was traveling?  Yes. 

Or can I provide documentation showing physical presence in the U.S. for some period of time?  Yes, we will also want this, to document those precise dates you will already have listed. 

If so, what period of time is required (1 year)?  Yes, if both you and your wife are proven to be genetic parents of the child – otherwise, 5 years, 2 of which are after the age of 14.  Transcripts are great proofs for this sort of thing, so consider having those on-hand for any education you did in the U.S. (yes, even high school). 

If so, what evidence is sufficient?  Use your judgment, but things like transcripts, W-2 forms, military records, etc – basically anything that proves you were in the U.S. for a given span of time.

To prove physical presence in the U.S., reports indicate that people have used school transcripts, tax returns with W-2s that indicate full-time employment in the U.S., earnings statements issued by the Social Security Administration, military records, leases, utility bills, etc. 

If you have questions about your situation, contact the consulate prior to traveling to India.  Starting in 2009, the consulate has become stricter in following these rules and verifying actual presence.

Passport for the baby

Once you know the discharge date of your baby, you need to call the Consulates Fraud Prevention Unit at 022-2363-3611 ext 4426/4431 to make your appointment.  If you are certain you will have the birth certificate by a given date, you can state simply you will have everything on the date of the appointment.  The lead time for appointments can take up to two weeks, so it is important to make this appointment as early as possible.  It's best to make one trip to the consulate to get your passport and DNA Swab complete to limit the exposure of your newborn. 

Once they confirm your appointment, they will send you an email with all the required documents you need to fill out. These documents will include:
- The Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA),
- Passport Application and
- Affidavit of Presence in the US

The application for the baby’s social security card is at the embassy.

Please follow the link below if you desire to fill out the forms at home. The benefit is you will not need to do that in India at the last minute. http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/reporting_birth_of_child_.html. The embassy can also provide you the forms when you arrive and you can fill them out then.  You will need to bring with you several documents.

1. Parents proof of U.S. citizenship.  Usually through your passport, but possibly through a naturalization certificate.
2. Baby's Birth Certificate that is issued by the Municipal office in Mumbai.
3.  Evidence of parents marriage: if applicable, this is usually via an original marriage certificate
4. Two identical 2x2 passport size photos with white background.  The Hospital can arrange for these photos to be taken. Please double check the size and background once you receive the photos.  There are certain requirements regarding the photo’s i.e. size and type. which can be found at: http://mumbai.usconsulate.gov/passportphoto.html
5. The discharge form from the Hospital. This is a report card outlining the babies birth and much unlike what you are used to in the states. We also recommend that you get copies of the babies medical records from the medical records department, the public relations department can help you with this process. The more information the Embassy has the better it is for your approval process. In addition it is good information for your pediatrician to have of what took place at the hospital.
6. A letter from your Fertility Clinic on official letterhead stating that they assisted you in becoming a parent. In the letter the details of the surrogate, the date of service and what has occurred will be spelled out in the letter
7. A letter from the hospital with their letterhead that outlines the birth of your child.
8. Your baby’s presence is required during these visits.

Address of the U.S. Consulate is:

American Consulate General
Fraud Prevention Unit
Lincoln House
78, Bhulabhai Desai Road
Mumbai, India 400026

Once you arrive at the embassy with your baby, you will be required to leave your cell phone and other electonics with the guard. They will allow you to bring the babies supplies in although you'll probably have to taste test an liquid formula. The entrance you want is to the left of where the guards allow your car to be dropped off.

Once inside the embassy you will confirm your appointment with the receptionist. You will then go into the room and take a number. You can approach the counter for your forms this time. Usually you are asked to be there at 9:15am. Appointments are traditionally made for Thursday’s. This process can take up to three hours, so make sure you bring your babies formula and pertinent supplies. They have bottled water at the embassy for you to mix the formula. Once your name is called you will hand over all of the documentation to the agent. The agent will ask for payment in Rupees. Please refer to the State Department website for the required amount. These amounts change from time to time. You should get the name of the American Official that assisted you, and if possible an email address, so the lab can notify them when the DNA test is complete and DNA results are on their way back to the Embassy. This alerts them to the package and help facilitate it’s movement through the security in the mail room.

At present, it takes 7-10 days business after the consulate has approved the application to get the baby’s CRBA and passport. Please be aware that surrogate situations are complex and frequently require additional documentation so the application may not be approved on the day of the appointment. Go prepared!

Some people (tangobaby, friend of HammockGuy) have reported success requesting an emergency passport without DNA results.  An emergency passport can be ready the same day.   It's not clear what criteria is required to qualify for an emergency passport. 

DNA verification

On clarifying the requirement for DNA testing, the U.S. consulate in Mumbai has recently indicated:

DNA testing may be recommended to support an application for an immigrant visa or to transmit U.S. citizenship.

This means DNA testing is not always required.  It is wise to clarify your situation with consulate or embassy before visiting.

The United States Government requires that you use an American Academy of Blood Bank approved lab.  Labs are added and removed, so you'll need to go directly to their approved list. This list can be found at http://www.aabb.org/About_the_AABB/Stds_and_Accred/aboutptlabs.htm.  Some labs confuse the INS guidelines with the Dept. of State guidelines and request a case number or even refuse to send the kit to you.  Start preprations early.

You’ll have to coordinate the shipping arrangements (both ways) directly with the lab.  You must have the kit sent to the consulate or embassy.  If you are having the kit sent to the embassy, it is wise to notify them that you have done so, so they can look out for the package and confirm receipt.  At the time of testing, you will need to provide a prepaid envelope for shipping the samples from Mumbai back to the lab for processing; the lab may include this for you - check with them.  The consulate will be the ones to actually initiate the shipment, but requires a prepaid return envelope for this.

In Mumbai, The DNA test must be done at Bridge Candy Hospital next to the US embassy.  Either on the day of your embassy appointment or during a separately scheduled DNA appointment (it's best to discuss your case with the consulate officers, as their recommendation on whether to do both these appointments on the same day or on separte days seems to change over time) you will meet with an Indian Physician at Bridge Candy Hospital. You need to go to a building across from the embassy, which is just a stones throw away from the hospital across the parking lot to the right of the hospital entrance. Here you will be asked to produce your baby’s birth certificate. You will then pay for the swabbing (350 Rupees per person) and they will hand you a slip for the test. When that process is complete you will be directed to the appropriate place in the hospital where the swab will be performed.

In an email, the consulate indicated:

Our current procedure is that the parent(s) and child appear together (at the same time) for a single appointment at a hospital near the consulate, where a cheek swab is taken for each person to be tested.  That way, there is no doubt as to from whom the contributions were collected.

A US embassy official will also be present. They will require a few items from you at that time.

1. The Original Birth Certificate and one additional copy.
2. A Copy of your passport
3. A 2x2 Photo of self
4. The DNA Kit (keep the kit in the Fedex envelope if you were the recipient of the kit)
5. DNA testing fee

Once the DNA Swab is done, the embassy official will seal it and place it in the return prepaid Fed Ex envelope provided by your lab. They will be responsible for shipment and will arrange for Fed Ex to pick up the package. Do get the tracking number so you can track the package. Once the DNA results are on their way back to the Embassy you can call them to let them know. They will notify the mailroom to expect your results.

Since this is often the most time consuming step, once the embassy receives the DNA test results, they'll contact you to come to the embassy to pick up the passport.

These procedures are all subject to change, so do contact the embassy or consulate to get an update on the most current procedures.

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The Exit Visa to leave India: Foreign Residents Registration Office

By Indian law, your baby requires an exit permit to leave the country. The exit permit is obtained from the Foreign Residents Registration Office (FRRO) in Mumbai or at the local Police Commissioner’s office if you are staying outside Mumbai.

The FRRO address in Mumbai is:

FRRO Office,
3rd Floor, Special Branch Bldg.,
Badruddin Tayabji Lane,
Behind St. Xaviers College,
Mumbai-400001.

The embassy will provide a letter of introduction and request for assistance that you can take to the FRRO when you pick up your passport. Exit permit applications at the Mumbai office are accepted between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. For this appointment you will need:

  • Letter from consulate (they keep the original since it is addressed to them)
  • Surrogacy Agreement
  • Ticket (or print out of email confirmation) showing your departure date (that evening or next day is okay)
  • Passport for both parents and Visa for both parents (so copy both passport page and visa pages)
  • Copy of baby’s passport
  • Letter from Clinic
  • Letter from Hospital
  • Two 2x2 photos of the baby
  • US$80 worth of Rupees at prevailing exchange rates

Appointments are made on a first come first serve basis.  Get there early (maybe a half hour) to be first in line. When you enter you will sign a book on the first floor and take the elevator to the third floor. When you exit you will walk straight up to the desk, check in. You approach the attendant; they will look at your paperwork then send you into the door just to the left. You will then immediately go into the next set of doors on the left and too the back of the room where the computers are located. You then log on and fill out the form online for your exit visa. They will then hand you a chip with a number on it. When your number appears on the electronic board over the entrance door, you enter the set of doors on the left as you face the board. You will sit down with the official and they will review your documents and ask you to then wait to be called again, or to come back tomorrow. At that time they will hand you a slip for payment. Once you pay you will walk back to the official and get your visa.

They will give you the exit permit with the baby’s photo that you must present to the airport officials. You now have permission have to leave the country within the time they indicate. There is usually a three-day window but sometimes only a 1 day window.

Depending on the season, it may be very hot.  Electricity may be cut back due to load sharing, meaning the air conditioner will be turned off. 

The FRRO is a place where you may want to have someone help you navigate through the language differences (Hindi) and the cultural differences.  Some people have reported paying facilitating payments, others have not.  When speaking to the folks at the U.S. consulate, they were aware that facilitating payments were required for birth certificates, but did not think facilitating payment were required for the exit visa. 

The FRRO is a good example of the government bureaucracy you'll see in any country and folks have had mixed experiences.  Mike and Mike write about their FRRO experience in early 2009, BonjourParenthood write about their experience in July 2009, and Peter writes about Visting the FRRO in August 2009 (seemed to be the smoothest of the 3 experiences).