Embryo import for surrogacy

In what is seen as a slightly positive development for the Indian Surrogacy Industry, the Government of India has allowed the import of frozen embryos for implantation in the womb of a surrogate mother.

According to a leading Indian news agency, foreign nationals and Indians settled abroad can bring in frozen human embryos and rent a surrogate womb in India. But before commencing the process, they will have to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Embryo gametes can be imported only for personal therapeutic purposes and the authorities want to ensure there is no illegal trade involved.

Embryo import for surrogacy

Also, it seems the ICMR is going to be tough while granting the NOC.

“Imports are allowed so long as there is no sale,” said an official. “There is no restriction on implantation of an imported frozen embryo in a surrogate either but the conditions for granting of NOC are stringent.”

The following documents are required for obtaining the NOC by the ICMR:

  • Certificate of registration of the ART clinic that advises the transfer of embryo
  • A certificate confirming the woman is infertile or unable to conceive or faces a risk of medical complications by getting pregnant
  • A certificate stating which clinic the embryo was generated in, and a proof that atleast one of the gametes is from the infertile couple
  • A document certifying that there was no sex selection in the process
  • Certificate of registration of the ART clinic in India where the surrogacy will be carried out, along with name and address of its in-charge.
  • Certificate from Indian ART clinic mentioning the foreign clinic that has suggested the treatment, including the name, address, and country of the commissioning couple
  • Identification documents and a proof of marriage of the parents.

Although the ICMR has consented to the import of embryos but it may still have difficulty passing the customs at the airport. The interested parties are advised to wait, until there is a clear declaration in the customs and DGFT rules.

Update 2018: Back in 2014, the Indian Government had declared that foreign nationals and Indians settled abroad can now bring in frozen human embryos and rent a surrogate womb in India. However, with India shutting its doors to surrogacy for foreigners and NRIs, the import of embryos is not an option anymore.

Update 2022: India has banned commercial surrogacy for all patients. India’s new surrogacy act allows only altruistic surrogacy (which does not involve any financial compensation).

Since commercial surrogacy is now banned, embryo import for surrogacy is out of question. If however, you have someone in your family who is willing to carry the pregnancy, you can still consider the option.