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Josephine Ellis 

I planned a trip to France before getting pregnant. I don't mind the idea of giving birth in France, should the baby choose to arrive a week or two early, but I'm worried about how one gets a newborn back through Customs. Presumably you can't just shove it back up your jumper and hope it stays asleep.

TOP RESPONSE
Mike Tantrum 
This is a fantastic question! I'm not a professional, but there are some instant thoughts that jump to mind. Firstly, how long are you going to be in France for? If it's just a holiday close to the birth then you should check whether your airline will even let you travel. Some have tough guidelines on this (but going by road or train is usually fine). Secondly, make sure you have insurance! I believe the EHIC will not cover certain things, like if you need to be taken back to the UK for medical treatment, so make sure you have insurance to cover everything (A birth is surely stressful enough!). On the immigration issue I can foresee this being a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare. You'll definitely have to register the birth at the local city hall within 3 days. For that you'll need your passport and probably your own birth certificate. Are you travelling with the father? They may also request his birth certificate, passport and even a marriage certificate (not very progressive, but red tape rarely is). Again, this is not professional advice, but I feel this may not be very easy! Your best bet is to contact the British Embassy or local consulate and ask them about the exact procedure. Oh, and ask about taking the baby through 'immigration', not 'customs' as you said above... Otherwise you might get some odd responses...😉 Hopefully someone on here can give you some more professional advice (or at least someone who's gone through the same thing). Bonne chance!
ALL RESPONSES
Mike Tantrum 
This is a fantastic question! I'm not a professional, but there are some instant thoughts that jump to mind. Firstly, how long are you going to be in France for? If it's just a holiday close to the birth then you should check whether your airline will even let you travel. Some have tough guidelines on this (but going by road or train is usually fine). Secondly, make sure you have insurance! I believe the EHIC will not cover certain things, like if you need to be taken back to the UK for medical treatment, so make sure you have insurance to cover everything (A birth is surely stressful enough!). On the immigration issue I can foresee this being a bit of a bureaucratic nightmare. You'll definitely have to register the birth at the local city hall within 3 days. For that you'll need your passport and probably your own birth certificate. Are you travelling with the father? They may also request his birth certificate, passport and even a marriage certificate (not very progressive, but red tape rarely is). Again, this is not professional advice, but I feel this may not be very easy! Your best bet is to contact the British Embassy or local consulate and ask them about the exact procedure. Oh, and ask about taking the baby through 'immigration', not 'customs' as you said above... Otherwise you might get some odd responses...😉 Hopefully someone on here can give you some more professional advice (or at least someone who's gone through the same thing). Bonne chance!
Minibugs Claire 
Hi! Are you flying or driving? I flew to Spain when I was around 31 weeks pregnant. I checked with the airline & was within their limit, but I still got a serious quizzing when trying to get on the plane back! I had to have a health check & letter from the doctor stating I was fit to fly & not at risk of early labour, dated as close to my outbound flight as possible. I'm afraid I can't offer any advice as to what would happen if you did give birth abroad, but I'll ask around my friends & see if they can help. It sounds like your planning to travel quite late in your pregnancy, so I do think you may encounter problems even getting to France, presuming you are flying. Good luck!
Josephine Ellis 
Thanks everyone! I'd avoided flying anyway for carbon footprint reasons (despite the fact that I'm obviously going to increase my household's carbon footprint by a third by bringing another First World human being into it) so I should be ok getting there.. though I am really hoping my waters don't break all over my friend's car seat. Ah yes, Mike, I don't want to be accused of trading in babies. Whereas in a way I don't mind the idea of being accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. It's not so much a political thing as some sort of latent romanticism, wanting to side with the Tom Joneses and Dick Whittingtons of this world, the rovers, the footloose rapscallions. The baby's father wasn't going to come on the trip, which was planned as a strictly feminine expedition. Maybe I should prime him to be ready to make a mercy dash to the Continent to reclaim his wife and child from the clutches of a bureaucratic monster. This would annoy him at the time, particularly since my French is better than his, but he might like to tell people about it later.
Mike Tantrum 
Haha! That would make a great story! Wasn't trying to deter you from an adventure to the land of romance, especially as I'm half-French (the better half according to my mother). Where are you heading in France? I'm assuming not too far south if you're going by car.
Dadah to one 
do it! you never know when you might need a European passport 😄😫 ..... though on a sensible reflection note I can imagine getting a passport back would be a nightmare! Only attempt this if you can stay in France for a while!
SofarSofood 
I think that the ferry companies have restrictions on how late into pregnancy you can travel too. I vaguely looked into it when I was pregnant and we wanted to sneak a holiday in before baby arrived (turned out I was far too huge to go anywhere other than the garden by the end!) Worth checking the website of the company you are travelling with. I wonder what nationality a baby is if it's born mid ferry crossing? It must happen occasionally! Hope you get a nice relaxing break whatever you decide.
Mike Tantrum 
And that's another interesting question, about nationalities. And your forcing me to remember my law studies at uni. It basically swings on whether it's territorial waters or not, the nationality of the ferry, and whether the nations involved follow the principle of jus soli or jus sanguinis. Many possible scenarios with these variables but lets's try one; Two British parents who have lived in the UK for at least 3 years give birth while crossing the channel. The distance between Dover and Calais is actually too small to have a break into international waters so the kid would either be born in France or the UK. If born in UK waters, the kid is British. If born in French waters the kid will ALSO be French IF one of the parents happened to be born in France or a French territory even if they don't have citizenship (due to France's restricted jus soli laws). You can imagine how complicated this kind of thing gets...
SofarSofood 
Crikey. I can see why the ferry operators have restrictions on when you can travel now. Must be a nightmare to unravel that at customs!
Mike Tantrum 
Another quick scenario. Imagine if you were and your partners were both Brits, but born outside of UK territories and only recently (under 3 years) living in the UK. You're cruising the Med (lucky you) on a ship flying the Italian flag and you give birth in international waters. Your kid would get Italian citizenship, but not necessarily British citizenship. 😱 You could try to register them upon return to the UK (and I'm sure they'd grant it!) but it wouldn't necessarily be automatic.
Josephine Ellis 
Oh, bloomin' heck, Sofarsofood, I hadn't thought of that, and you're absolutely right. SWEAR WORDS. Well, thank goodness I know now and not at check-in! "No, honestly, I've just been eating all the pies!" while baby wriggles around and elbows me in the midriff. Eurotunnel'll take me.. I love your legal scenarios, Mike. I'm only going to Brittany, which, you know, is the same word as Britain really, isn't it? Thing is, I've constructed this entire fictional scenario in which baby is born at the Festival du Chant de Marin in Paimpol and I call it Marianne or Michel (after Mont St-Michel - I'm not calling it Malo, poor little thing) and it's all a grand adventure so I am dreadfully reluctant to stay at home!
Mike Tantrum 
You can still TELL people that's what happened... and yes 'Brittany' is just an adjective to describe Britain anyway... "What's Britain like?" "It's kinda Brittany".
Anonymous 
Hi there, bit late to the conversation, but if it's helpful, I had a baby abroad intentionally. Mike's pretty much covered it in his first post in terms of the practical stuff. I did a lot of research about what the system is like where I chose to give birth and how I would be covered in terms of costs. You might be less control freakish than me, but I wanted to know what the hospitals were like and what the attitude to the different options at childbirth were. If you have a birth plan, would they follow it, how's your French and how's the likely English in the hospitals you are going to? There might be cultural differences towards different things that you might feel strongly about-water birth, medical intervention, epsiostomy, care immediately after the birth, etc. Then there's the after care-you probably don't want to be travelling anytime soon after birth I'd imagine-the first two weeks are a worm hole. I was flying so I spent a month post birth before returning, allowing enough time to do the birth registry and apply for the relevant passports to travel back. Immigration is fine if you have the right documents but I would imagine it might be a bit harder if the father wasn't travelling with you. I've seen queues at immigration in the family line since where the mother and child have not been accompanied whilst they look for documents and things. One more thing is the health visitor system and registering with the NHS when you get back. It might depend on which borough you are in and the local services, you may not get the same level of care as you will be registered as a foreign birth and they don't come by as often as they do with those who get the care from day one. You can still do the trip, but just be prepared so if things do happen, then nothing goes "wrong" so to speak. Good luck!

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