Key messages on Family Court COVID-19 Protocol for the adoption of New Zealand surrogate babies born overseas

  • The Family Court COVID-19 Protocol for the adoption of New Zealand surrogate babies born overseas (‘the Protocol’) is due to expire on 1 March 2021.
  • After careful consideration, the Protocol will be extended until 23 September 2021.
  • The Protocol is tied to the Epidemic Notice under the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006. Without the Epidemic Notice in place, the process underpinning the Protocol cannot operate. The current Epidemic Notice will expire on 23 March 2021 and the extension of the Protocol is tied to an assumption of two further renewal periods of three months. The Protocol will therefore last until 23 September 2021 or the expiry of the Epidemic Notice, whichever date is earlier.
  • It is important that the Protocol is not relied upon as a long-term solution for children born by international surrogacy arrangements. Children born by surrogacy should use the existing Government-mandated process for entering New Zealand except where:
    • there are confirmed difficulties in obtaining a passport overseas within a reasonable timeframe due to the effects of COVID-19; and
    • this directly and seriously impacts the ability for the baby and commissioning parents to travel to New Zealand; and
    • the delays are such that they result in the commissioning parents becoming in need of assistance offshore.
  • The Protocol is not intended to be used in cases where documentation has been, or is reasonably able to be, obtained in the child’s country of birth.
  • The Protocol is also not intended to be used in cases where commissioning parents have chosen to enter international surrogacy arrangements in the time since the start of the pandemic. In these cases, commissioning parents are making informed decisions to enter international surrogacy arrangements in the knowledge that that there are difficulties in travelling and in obtaining documentation.
  • If an application to apply the Protocol is made in these circumstances, a decision will be made on the merits of the individual case.
  • Finally, the Protocol applies only to legitimate surrogacy arrangements. It will not be used to facilitate adoptions in cases where commissioning parents have entered an international surrogacy arrangement where that arrangement is illegal in the country of the surrogate or the child’s country of birth.
  • In cases that fall outside of scope of the Protocol, children born by surrogacy should use the existing Government-mandated process for entering New Zealand. Information on that process is available here: