I've noticed that people ask about importing sperm from the US from time to time. I've done that (and have my beautiful baby boy to show for it!) I've been sending people out an e-mail with the details of how I did it when people ask, but I'm going to stick it here cos then it's there for anyone who is interested!
Please bear in mind that this is only my experience and relates specifically to the two clinics I used, but other people have said they found it helpful.
* I registered with my clinic in Manchester, which all in all took about 6 months with the various tests, counselling and doctor's approval etc. I paid about £300 for tests (not optional)
* I contacted the American clinic. This clinic was recommended to me by someone who had used it already. You can only use HFEA approved clinics and apparently there aren't many of them, but this clinic works closely with the HFEA.
* Set up an account with NE Cryogenics. This involves sending off for a bunch of forms which you then fill in and send back. You have to give out your bank details and your clinic in Britain needs to fill in some sections too.
* Then you need a license from the HFEA to import sperm. The British clinic will contact them on your behalf and it took about a month for the decision to come through. You shouldn't have any problems if you are just importing a small amount to try and conceive. I've heard that the law around this may change soon and clinics will be able to apply for the license so you don't have to do it personally. (I don't have up to date information on this) What I didn't realise at the time was that the license only lasts a month so I would advise you not to get the license until you have checked out donor availability.
* I chose a donor only to discover he wasn't currently available as he needed to go in for a test. I waited for a while but after a month he still wasn't available. I chose another donor - he wasn't currently available either! I waited a while and by that time my license had run out! I had to apply for another license (it was much quicker this time as it was a re-application) and eventually went with my 3rd choice donor. My advice is, check this stuff first. It says on the website that all donors listed should be available within 60 days but they can't actually guarentee this in practice. NE Cryogenics will store purchased sperm free of charge for 3 months, so you could buy it and then apply for a license.
* The American clinic ships your vials to the British clinic. This is where things get expensive. My vials cost $385 each and I bought 5. (Non identity release sperm is $285 per vial) I'm afraid I can't remember how much the shipping costs were but you have to pay a deposit of about $800 and they can take up to a year to refund this. (update note: this clinic is no longer charging deposits) 5 vials is the maximum number you can ship in one go, and with the deposit and shipping costs being high and knowing that it takes 4 inseminations on average to get pregnant it seemed sensible to ship the maximum 5 as long as you can afford it.
* My clinic had never done this before and although they were great about it I had to check up on things every stage of the way. For example you are responsible for making sure the shipping container is sent back to the American clinic and it took quite a while for me to get my clinic to organise this.
* From then on you can continue as if you were just using the British clinic. Bear in mind though that I still had to pay the full price which they would charge even if they had provided the sperm for me. This was £450 per insemination. I also hadn't considered the fact they would charge me to store the sperm at their clinic and I was given an annual charge of £165 for this. I have also just discovered that you will be charged twice if you want to store another lot later on even if you are already storing some. (I'm currently in the process of sorting out more vials of the same donor for a sibling)