Surrogacy Basics

What is surrogacy?

Surrogacy is the act of a woman carrying a baby for a couple or individual who cannot carry for themselves.

There are two types of surrogacy; host/gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy.

Host surrogacy involves transferring the intended parents’ embryo into the surrogate via IVF at a clinic.

Traditional surrogacy involves using the surrogate’s own eggs, either by home insemination, insemination at a clinic or IVF at a clinic (with the surrogate acting as egg donor).

Is surrogacy legal?

Surrogacy is legal in the UK.

The legal order intended parents need to obtain after baby is born is called a Parental Order. The parental order transfers legal parenthood to the intended parents.

To be eligible for a parental order, intended parents must:

  • Use either their own sperm/egg/embryo.
    • One parent MUST be genetically related to the child born.
    • Solo intended parents MUST be able to use their own gametes.
  • Be over 18.
  • Be domiciled in the UK.
  • Be in an enduring relationship (if applying as a couple).
  • Have conceived the child through artificial insemination or via a clinic.
  • Reside with the child.

If intended parents do not meet these requirements, then legal advice from a surrogacy specialist must be sought.

Can a surrogate be paid for being a surrogate?

Commercial surrogacy is not allowed in the UK.  Surrogates must only receive reasonable expenses for carrying a child through surrogacy.

What is classed as reasonable expenses?

Reasonable expenses differ from surrogate to surrogate, depending on her personal circumstances such as number of children, salary and distance from IPs.  Expenses can include a range of things that the surrogate would not have had to pay for if she were not pregnant with a surrogate child e.g. loss of earnings, childcare, maternity clothes, mileage, loss of partner earnings, help around the house, convenience food, vitamins, complimentary therapies.

How much does surrogacy cost?

Surrogacy costs can differ greatly depending on a number of different factors.

Host surrogacy incurs costs from the clinics which can range from £5-12k per cycle.

Surrogates expenses can range from £4-20k. 

There is no legal limit to how little or how much a surrogates expenses can be, however expenses are checked by the court when applying for a parental order.

It is recommended that IPs budget at least £20k for traditional surrogacy and £30k for host surrogacy.

Can I undertake surrogacy abroad?

International surrogacy is a viable option for those looking at surrogacy.  However cost and legalities differ depending on which country you choose.  It is recommended that specialist legal advice be sought before committing to international surrogacy.

Do I need a surrogate?

Surrogacy is available to those who are unable to carry their own child.  It is recommended that all options to carry yourself have been exhausted, and that you aren’t looking to complete your family in other ways (e.g. own IVF or adoption).

Surrogacy is available to same sex intended parents.

Surrogacy is available to solo intended parents.

It is not a legal requirement that you are unable to carry yourself medically – it can be a choice.

How do I find a surrogate?

It is illegal to advertise for a surrogate in the UK so care must be taken when looking for a surrogate.

You can either join an organisation where your details will be made available to surrogates who are looking for intended parents, or join an independent group and make connections informally with surrogates.