Germany: New donor registry starts on 1 July

On 1 July 2018, Germany finally established a donor registry as the the Sperm Donor Registry Act (SaRegG – Samenspenderregistergesetz) became effective. The Act provides for a central registry, the Samenspender-Register, at the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) in Cologne, where doctors have to transfer identifying data about the donor and the mother as name, address, nationality, and place of birth. The sperm donor will be invited to leave additional information about himself for the child.

Donor conceived persons have a right to access information about their donor from 16 years of age. This is, however, not a minimum age as the parents of the donor conceived child can demand the identifying data for the child.The data will be retained for 110 years.

Spenderkinder, the association of donor conceived adults in Germany, welcomes the creation of a central registry where donor conceived persons can get information about their biological father. This is a step long overdue. Although anonymous sperm donations were never legal in Germany, doctors allegedly destroyed data on sperm donations after only ten years in the past.

Unfortunately, the registry has no retroactive effect, meaning that it will only retain data from sperm donations from 1 July onwards. This means that donor conceived persons conceived before this date will have to demand identifying information about their biological fathers from the fertility clinics. At least, the retainment period for such data was extended to 110 years. Accordingly, any destruction of data currently available is prohibited.

As a second point of criticism, the registry will neither provide information about donor siblings nor control that a single donor can only sire a certain numer of donor children. Also, the registry will not retain data about so called embryo donation.1

The Act also excludes the possibility to have the sperm donor declared as the legal father in order to protect sperm donors against claims for child support or inheritance from any children resulting from donated sperm. Although this corresponds with the legal situation in many other countries, there are serious concerns that the amendment violates the constitutional right of donor conceived persons to an equal treatment. Persons conceived „naturally“ are entitled to have their biological father also determined as legal father. It would provide sufficient protection for sperm donors to simply exclude any rights to support or inheritance.

  1. While egg donation is not allowed in Germany, the procurement of embryos whose biological parents do not longer want a child is a legal loophole. []