Donor Treatments – Legal Information


Before becoming a donor or recipient of sperm, eggs or embryos, some important legal issues should be considered.  This section provides a summary of the following key issues:

Donor identity and anonymity

By law, donors’ names and dates of birth have to be given to the HFEA to be held on its donor register.  Donors have no legal right to contact their donor-conceived offspring; the decision to initiate contact is solely that of the donor-conceived child.  Both altruistic and known donors are not in any way financially or legally responsible for children born from their donations.  However if they deliberately fail to disclose information concerning their risk of passing on a genetic condition, they may face future liabilities.

Pre-1 April 2005

Children born following treatment with eggs, sperm or embryos donated before 1 April 2005 may only approach the HFEA on reaching their 18th birthday, or at the time of their marriage, if sooner, to find out if they are genetically related to their future spouse.  No identifying information about the donor may be provided, unless the donor chose to be registered as an ‘identity release’ donor.

Post-1 April 2005

Since 1 April 2005, donors cannot be anonymous.  Legislation allows children conceived from sperm, egg and embryo donations after that date to access more information about their genetic origins, by lifting anonymity from donors and so allowing them to access the identity of their donor when they reach the age of 18 – or sooner if they wish to get married.  The first time an 18 year old who was donor-conceived after 1 April 2005 will be able to ask for the identity of their donor, if they choose, will be in 2023.

The current regulations are not retrospective.  People who donated sperm, eggs or embryos before 1 April 2005 will not become identifiable.

For more information visit the HFEA website sections:

The legal status of parents of donor conceived children

The law states that the woman who is pregnant and gives birth to a child is the legal mother of the child, whether the child was conceived from her own or donated eggs, and will be named on the child’s birth certificate.

Married couples

Where a married woman receives licensed assisted conception with donor sperm, the law recognises her husband as the legal father of the child and his name may be included on the birth certificate.

Unmarried couples

Since 6 April 2009 the unmarried male partner of a heterosexual couple receiving donor sperm or embryo treatment from a licensed clinic can state clearly that he intends to be the legal parent of any child who may result from the treatment.

The HFEA consent forms WP and PP need to be completed before treatment begins to ensure that this can occur.

Female civil partners

Lesbian civil partners undergoing donor fertility treatment at a licensed clinic have the right to name the partner on their child’s birth certificate.

The HFEA consent forms WP and PP need to be completed before treatment begins to ensure that this can occur.

The legal status of donor conceived children

Donor-conceived people should also be recognised under inheritance law for all purposes, except the right to inherit a peerage.  Midland Fertility recommends that patients seek qualified legal advice for specialist information on family law or inheritance law if necessary.

Notification of the outcome of a recipient’s treatment

About 12 months after a recipient’s IUI insemination or IVF/ICSI embryo transfer a donor may be told if any pregnancy was achieved using their sperm, eggs or embryos.  No information will be provided about whether the pregnancy progresses or results in a livebirth.

More information

Also, go the the Patient Treatment Information page and download the following infosheets:

  • Altruistic Egg Donation
  • Donating Sperm
  • Fertility Treatment and Donor Sperm
  • Receiving Donor Eggs

LU: 1/7/14/JAA