Recipients using Clinics

Egg and sperm donation through HFEA licensed clinics:  for parents

The UK has a licensing system for all fertility clinics, and there is a regulatory body called the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which enforces safety and standards rules.  These including screening for egg and sperm donors (as well as age and other suitability requirements).  If your clinic matches you with an unknown donor, they will have undergone screening before being matched. 

If your clinic matches you with an unknown donor he or she will have no legal rights or responsibilities as a parent. (so no right to involvement with your child and no financial responsibility). 

What can our child find out about his or her donor?

Although you will not meet your donor at the outset, if you conceive at a clinic in the UK, details of your treatment and any child you conceive will be held on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s Register of Information.  You and your child will have rights to access the information kept on the Register as he or she grows up.  The information differs at different stages:

  • While your child is under 18 (with parents’ permission before 16, and independently after 16), your child can ask to find out:
  • Non-identifying information about the donor (basic physical information and any pen sketch or goodwill message the donor wrote); and
  • Whether your child has any genetic donor siblings (i.e. children conceived in other families with eggs or sperm from the same donor) and, if so, their sex and year of birth.
  • Once your donor-conceived son or daughter is 18 or over, he or she can ask the HFEA:
  • for identifying information about their donor (including name, date of birth and last known address).  All new donors were required to register as identifiable after 1 April 2005, which means (with a few minor exceptions) that all children conceived after 2005 have rights to identifying information about their donor.  The rules are different for donor-conceived people conceived with donors registered before 2005; 
  • to be put in touch with any genetic donor siblings conceived at licensed clinics in the UK.  The donor-conceived person can ask to be put on a register, and if any genetic siblings who are over 18 also ask to make contact, they will be put in touch with each other.

These rights to information only apply if you conceive at a fertility clinic in the UK.  If you conceive at home or at a fertility clinic outside the UK, then the HFEA does not keep any records which your child can access in this way.

What if we conceive with a known donor?

If you are conceiving with a known donor or co-parent, then of course you may know more about your donor before you start.  so the rights your child has to information in the future may not be needed in practice. However these rights will all still apply, for example if you lose touch with your donor in the future

If you are conceiving with a known donor at a UK fertility clinic then the rules regarding whether the donor is a legal parent or is protected from legal and financial responsibility are more complex – see the pages related to known donation for more information.

For more detailed information, visit NGA Law’s free and searchable online Knowledge Centre

Page last reviewed: 12/06/2018