Shipment of embryos

Step in Surrogacy 2b: Ship Your Embryos for Surrogacy

If you already have some embryos made in your home country, then you’ll need to ship them to your Mexican fertility clinic. This is not straightforward, however. You can’t just ship your embryos in a regular parcel as they need to be frozen. The embryos are stored inside a special container called DEWARs and kept frozen at -196C during the entire duration of travel. Care has to be taken to preserve the embryos, including not subjecting them to X-rays.

Transporting biological materials across the border into Mexico requires a special permit from COFEPRIS, a Mexican regulatory body that overseas import and export of biological materials. Depending on which shipper of biological materials you work with, you may need to apply for COFEPRIS permit first before shipping your embryos. Some shippers may already have a COFEPRIS permit that can be used for your biological materials, so you won’t need to apply for the permit.

The Shipping Process

1) Choose a Shipper

Choose a reputable shipping company to ship your embryos for you. Not all shipping companies are capable of safely transporting your embryos across the border, so you’ll have to choose carefully. Here are some companies that can ship your embryos.

Babysteps Couriers (formerly Andron) – Babysteps is a US-based company that specializes in shipping fertility-related specimen within US and internationally. They can ship frozen embryos as well as sperms, eggs,  ovarian and testicular tissues. Although they are based in US, they have satellite offices across the globe to help you ship your embryos. Their courier travels with the container containing your embryos throughout the trip, and a ‘Logger’ is attached to the container to continuously monitor its temperature and location.

ARKCryo – ARKCryo has over 10 years of experience shipping frozen embryos internationally. Using specialized container that keep the embryos at optimal conditions, they can ship your embryos to different countries within 2 to 10 days. They also handle paperwork related to custom clearance.

IVF Couriers – IVF Couriers has offices in the US and UK. They provide ‘hand-carry’ services to transport your frozen embryos, sperms, and eggs to different parts of the world. They use a model called ‘Dry Shipping’ which allow them to carry the samples in an airplane cabin. Like other couriers, they make sure your embryos are not subjected to X-ray inspections.

BioCouriers – BioCouriers also has offices in the US and UK. They have relationships with health authorities in different countries, with licenses to transport biological materials. Your frozen embryos will be kept at optimal conditions while being carried to their destinations. The client receives a report upon completion.

EmbryoCourier – EmbryoCourier has offices in Canada, the US, Ukraine, and Georgia. They specialize in transporting frozen embryos, eggs, and sperms. Your embryos will be transported by an embryologist who makes sure the embryos are in good care. He or she is also trained to handle unexpected situations that may arise during transport.

2) Apply for COFEPRIS Permit

With the help of your agency and / or your clinic in Mexico, you have to apply for a COFEPRIS permit to ship your embryos from your country to Mexico. You may also use the help of a customs agent to obtain the permit. There is no official timeline for this, but anecdotally, the process is slow; it may take any where between 6 months to a year for the permit to be approved.

You might be able to skip this step if you are using a shipper which has a COFEPRIS permit that you can use. Please inquire individual shippers to see if they have a permit that they can let you use.

3) Prepare the Embryos for Shipping

To prepare the embryos for shipping to Mexico, first coordinate with your fertility clinic in your home country to ensure the embryos are securely stored and labeled. Tell the fertility clinic that you want to ship the embryos. Most fertility clinics will charge you an administrative fee to release the embryos to the shipper. Work with the clinic to ensure the embryos are safely placed in the shipper, insulated to maintain a stable temperature during transit. The clinic and the shipper will label the container clearly with all necessary details, including your information and that of the recipient clinic, along with any relevant medical documentation.

4) Ship the Embryos

Wait for the embryos to arrive at the Mexican clinic. If it’s taking a longer time than expected, make sure to contact the shipper for an explanation.

5) Receive the Embryos

When the embryos arrive at the destination clinic in Mexico, the shipping company will notify you of the arrival. The clinic in Mexico should also notify you upon their arrival and perform a thorough inspection. Confirm that the receiving clinic received the embryos in good condition. After this, the clinic’s specialists will carefully transfer the embryos into secure storage, waiting for embryo transfer.

Cost of Shipping Embryos to Mexico

There may be three costs associated with transferring embryos to Mexico, and they all vary depending on which shipping company you will be using, which fertility clinic the embryos are shipped from, which country your embryos are located, and other factors. The following is a ballpark estimate of the cost involved.

1) Cost to ship the embryos

$2,000 USD – $7,000 USD

The cost to ship the embryos internationally can vary widely depending on which country they are from. In general, it may cost between $2,000 USD and $7,000 USD to ship embryos, the higher end if your embryos are located in a different continent. Get a quote directly from the shipping company.

2) Cost to get the COFEPRIS permit

$1,000 USD – $2,000 USD (est)

The cost is payable to a custom broker who will help you get the COFEPRIS permit. There is some markup to the cost of COFEPRIS permit itself, and the overall cost may be around $2,000 USD.

3) Cost to release the embryos from your fertility clinic

$350 USD – $1,000 USD (est)

The administrative fee to release the embryos from your fertility clinic can be around $500 CAD or $350 USD. Most clinics charge about $350 USD, but anecdotally, some intended parents have been charged more than $1,000 USD.

Final Thought

By far the longest time spent in shipping your embryos to Mexico is the application time for your COFEPRIS permit. There is currently a delay in processing the permit, and the amount of delay depends on how busy COFEPRIS is and the specifics of your application. If it’s possible to avoid applying for a COFEPRIS permit, your shipping will go much faster. Ask your agency which shipping method is the best and / or ask different shipping companies if they already have a COFEPRIS permit that allows you to ship embryos from the clinic in your country to Mexico.

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