Is surrogacy legal in the UK

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Is surrogacy legal in the UK?

I am frequently asked ‘is surrogacy legal in the UK?’. Altruistic surrogacy is permitted in the UK but commercial surrogacy is not. As British citizens, there is nothing preventing you from entering into a surrogacy arrangement in another destination provided that you comply with the law in that destination.

Altruistic surrogacy means not making an outright payment to the surrogate for carrying a child.  The law states that you may pay ‘reasonable expenses’ to the surrogate, pregnancy related expenses.  What constitutes reasonable expenses is always being debated.   Some people feel that payment/compensation is being disguised as ‘reasonable expenses’ to  circumvent the law.   There is no limit to what the amount of expenses could be.

Typical expenses include medical expenses, travel to and from clinics, scans, medication, supplements, loss of income etc.  These expenses should be paid as they arise however, some couples choose to estimate general expenses and agree a total amount for the complete arrangement paid in instalments over 9 months.  I have seen expenses paid for car MOT, dental treatment, holidays, bags etc.

It is contrary to law for any payment to be made for ‘handing over’ the child or for the signing of any paperwork.

A surrogacy agreement is not enforceable in the UK and both intended parents must apply to the court to become legal parents for the child.  Until then, the surrogate is the legal mother and if she is married or in a civil partnership, her husband/Partner is the second legal parent.

There are a few charities in the UK to help you match with a surrogate.  Only non profit organisations can do this.

Many couples look abroad for surrogacy because it is difficult to match in the UK and when a match is found, the legal framework is not sufficient to provide Intended Parents with enough security that they will become the legal parents.

If you are looking abroad, you need to research how you can return home with the child and become legal parents.   Other factors to consider include  cost and duration spent in the destination post birth waiting for the child’s passport.

The decision about where your child should live and who the legal parents are, is determined by legislation in England and not legislation in the destination where the surrogacy takes place.  You need to be sure that you are acting within the law of the destination country.  To be sure of that, get advice from a surrogacy lawyer in the destination.   I can help you by suggesting some lawyers that my clients have worked with in the past.

I am aware of a large and growing underground surrogacy world in the UK where money may be exchanging hands for gametes and a surrogacy arrangement.  Whilst I accept that this is largely due to the lack of legal framework and failure of the UK legal system to protect IP’s and surrogates, I advise that you exercise extreme caution in taking part in such arrangements.

Please call surrogacy lawyers for advice.  ‘Is surrogacy legal in the UK?’  call 01727 884 688 or e-mail directly on

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I provide legal advice on surrogacy based on the law in England and Wales.

I have acted for clients working with many agencies across the world.  I will not recommend any surrogacy provider, destination, agency or clinic.   If my advice concludes that you can become legal parents following the arrangement you are considering, it should not be taken as advice to proceed.  If I have acted for couples who have entered into similar arrangements, you should not take that as advice to proceed.   You must always do your own due diligence on any agency / destination.  A successful arrangement for someone else won’t always mean a successful arrangement for you.  I will not take part in any negotiations for your surrogacy arrangement nor, will I review your surrogacy contract.