If you were conceived after 1 April 2005
The HFEA stores information about people who donated sperm, eggs or embryos at licensed UK fertility clinics since 1 August 1991 – the date the HFEA was set up – to present day.
When donor-conceived people born after 1 April 2005 reach 16 years old, they will be entitled to contact the HFEA to apply for information about their donor and any donor-conceived siblings they may have. The first donor conceived person conceived after 1 April 2005 will reach 16 in 2022.
What information is available?
From 1 April 2005 this is the information the HFEA collected from donors:
- their physical description (height, weight, eye and hair colour) if provided by the donor
- the year and country of their birth
- their ethnicity
- whether they had any children, how many and their gender
- their marital status
- their medical history
- a goodwill message to any potential children, if provided by the donor
- identifying information (the donor’s name, date of birth and last known address).
Donor-conceived people conceived after 1 April 2005, when they reach 16 years old, are able to apply to the HFEA to receive the non-identifying information that their donor provided (all information given by the donor except for their name and last-known address).
Please note that any identifying information in the donor goodwill message and pen profile will be redacted.
- See an example of a redacted goodwill message (pdf 536Kb)
Donor-conceived people conceived after 1 April 2005, when they reach 18 years old are able to apply to the HFEA to find the information their donor provided, including identifying information.
Variations in the information
While all donors will have provided identifying information, the amount of biographical detail they provide may vary.
It is important to note that although it was not possible to donate anonymously from 1 April 2005, until 1 April 2006 it was possible to use stored anonymous donor sperm and embryos in treatment.
This means that if you were conceived between 1 April 2005 and 1 April 2006, it is possible that you have an anonymous donor.
Also, because of the importance families place on having genetically related siblings, couples who have had one child with an anonymous donor are entitled to store that donor's sperm or embryos and use it at a later date to have another child.
Donor sperm can be stored for up to 10 years, this means that if a couple stored anonymous donor sperm in 2004, they could use it to create a sibling to an existing child up until 2014.
This means that there is the possibility that those applying for information may receive less than they want, or expect. We recommend anybody applying to the HFEA for information about their donor seek counselling or similar support services – this may include talking over their plans with a family member or friends before going ahead.
Information about donor-conceived genetic siblings
Donor-conceived genetic siblings are those born from sperm, eggs or embryos donated by the same donor.
Donor-conceived people 16 years or older are entitled to anonymous information about any donor-conceived genetically related siblings they may have including the number, sex and year of birth.
If 18 years old and over, they will be able to find out identifying information about any donor-conceived genetic siblings, if both sides consent.
The HFEA is committed to establishing a “Voluntary Sibling Contact Register” where donor-conceived people over 18 who would like to be contacted by their donor-conceived genetic siblings can submit their contact details. This voluntary sibling register will exclude the donors natural/legal children.
For more information, see Voluntary Sibling Contact Register below.
Avoiding a relationship with your donor-conceived siblings
16 year olds who intend to enter into an intimate physical relationship can submit a joint application to establish whether they are genetically related. Also, any one who intends to marry, or enter into a civil partnership may submit a joint application to establish whether they are genetically related.
How was your donor’s information collected?
The information we hold about your donor has been given to us by the fertility clinic where your donor registered. Every HFEA licenced fertility clinic in the UK is required to provide us with information about the donors whose gametes or embryos are going to be used in treatment.
To prepare yourself for what information you might receive, download the donor information form. This is the form that is currently in use, as of 1 October 2009.
How do I apply for information?
Once you have had a chance to think about what it may mean to access information about your donor and/or donor-conceived genetic siblings, get in touch with us and start the application process:
Why is the information available to people born after 1 April 2005 different?
The information that donor-conceived people born after 1 April 2005 can apply for is slightly different than what those born from when the HFEA was set up (1 August 1991) to 2005. This is due to amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act – the law overseeing the use of fertility treatment in the UK.
The law change meant that donors whose sperm, eggs or embryos are used in treatment after 1 April 2005 is identifiable to children born as a result of their donation, once the child is 18 years old. Their last known address, date of birth and name is provided to people born as a result of their donation, when they apply to the HFEA for information.
The reason anonymity has been removed is because it was recognised by law that many donor-conceived people have a desire and a right to find out about where they came from.
At 11.45 on 25 July, 1978, the world’s first IVF baby was born in Manchester. 30 years later more than 12,000 babies are born after fertility treatment each year in the UK.
The HFEA was established in 1991 to oversee fertility treatment in the UK, making sure fertility clinics operate to the law. Since then the law has been amended a number of times to reflect changing opinions and an ever increasing acceptance of fertility treatment.
Legislation affecting donor-conceived people born after 1 April 2005
2004 – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (Disclosure of Donor Information) Regulations 2004/1511
Regulations allow details about egg donors and sperm donors registered after 1 April 2005 to be passed on to the offspring, including the name and last address of the donor (aka removal of donor anonymity).
2006 – Review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: Proposals for revised legislation (Cm 6989)
White paper on review of fertility legislation.
2007 – The Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Quality and Safety) Regulations 2007/1522
Regulations to bring the European Tissue and Cells Directive into UK law. Amends the HFEA Act 1990, and requires the licensing of all establishments handling gametes for treatment (e.g. IUI clinics).
2007 – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill
Major review of fertility legislation, updating and amending the 1990 Act.
2008 – HFE Act 2008 receives Royal Assent
The HFEA press release (13 November 2008).
2009 – HFE Act 2008 comes into force
New provisions come into force in April and October 2009, additional changes in April 2010.
Donor Sibling Link
The new legislation enables the Authority to establish a sibling register, to allow donor-conceived individuals to make contact with their donor-conceived siblings, from the age of 18, on the basis of mutual consent..
From 2010, when donor-conceived people reach the age of 18, they can choose to place their contact details on a voluntary sibling contact register called Donor Sibling Link, administered by the HFEA. The HFEA will facilitate the exchange of contact details between siblings who consent to be on this register.
Consequently, it will be possible for donor-conceived adults to trace their siblings, on the basis of mutual consent, through the voluntary sibling contact register. It is not possible for parents, however, to trace their child's siblings through the voluntary contact sibling register.
Page last updated: 01 October 2012