International Surrogacy – Laws & Options for Surrogacy Abroad
Surrogacy is not a legal procedure in all countries, which leaves intended parents no alternative but to travel somewhere else, to countries with a well-defined legal framework that governs this infertility treatment.
Each destination country has its pros and cons, which should be considered very carefully before making up your mind.
What follows is a comprehensive guide to the main destination countries for undergoing surrogacy abroad. It should be noted that this list only includes those countries where surrogacy is allowed to international patients by law.
The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.
The first thing to keep in mind before choosing the USA as our destination country for surrogacy is that there is no federal law that governs surrogacy arrangements across the country, but it varies by state. For this reason, our advice is that you pay special attention to the legality of this treatment in the US state of our choice according to our family type.
States where surrogacy is allowed
Currently, surrogacy arrangement are legal in the following territories: Nevada, California, Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.
By surrogacy-friendly states we refer to those US states where no law governs surrogacy arrangements currently, but case law indicates that courts are usually favorable to their performance. We recommend that you pay special attention when doing it in one of these states, as the risk for complications to arise is higher. Alaska, Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Wyoming are included in this group.
States where surrogacy is not allowed
Those states that have not been mentioned in none of the sections listed above are the ones that ban surrogacy arrangements, including Arizona, Michigan, New York, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska. Surrogacy is even considered a criminal offence in some of them.
The US states classified into the first and the second groups gran either post- or pre-birth orders to establish the parental rights of intended parents. They are key items when undergoing surrogacy in the USA.
In the USA, a birth order is the legal document used to assign parentage to a child.
The function of pre- and post-birth orders is the same, but differs in the moment when each is issued. So, while pre-birth orders can be started in the fourth month of pregnancy, post-birth orders are granted on day 3 or 5 following birth.
Even if the name of both intended parents appears on the US birth certificate, British intended parents must apply for a Parental Order in the United Kingdom within 6 months following birth, and no earlier.
How much does it cost?
Perhaps the main disadvantage of the USA as a destination country for surrogacy overseas is the high cost of this treatment there, which ranges from $95,000 to $290,000. The fact that the US healthcare system is run by private businesses contributes to this.
Canada is a valid destination for all kinds of family structures as well: opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples, and single parents. What’s more, legal parenthood is determined by a court ruling, which makes the process easier for intended parents.
Only altruistic surrogacy arrangements are allowed in Canada. This means that the only pay given to surrogates is a reimbursement for the expenses incurred during pregnancy. Also, intermediaries cannot accept any kind of financial compensation for their services.
On the other hand, the main disadvantage of this destination is that, given the impossibility of compensating the surrogate financially, finding a surrogate can be difficult. This forces intended parents to be on a waiting list for Canadian surrogates.
How much does it cost?
The fact that the Canadian healthcare system is publicly funded and surrogates do not receive any kind of payment makes the price lower than in the USA. It can range from $55,000 to $72,000.
In Russia, surrogacy is allowed only to straight couples and single females, as long as they they provide a medical certificate that proves their inability to carry a pregnancy to term.
Firstly, one should take into account that, even though the Russian law permits it, single females have to be very careful when choosing Russia as their destination country for a surrogacy arrangement, as legal parentage might not be assigned to them in their country of origin.
This is the case of British single women, who have no option but to turn to an Adoption Order if they undergo surrogacy abroad, as there is no father to whom parentage would be assigned as in the case of single males, heterosexual couples, or gay couples (man and man) as long as they have a genetic link to the child.
Conversely, there would be no problem for intended mothers from the USA who want to become single mothers by choice, provided that they are able to use their own egg cells.
How much does it cost?
Russia is cheaper than other countries, as the cost of surrogacy there varies from $42,000 to $54,000.
The situation of surrogacy in Ukraine are quite similar to those of Russia, yet it is regulated with an even stricter law — only married heterosexual couples have access to this fertility treatment.
Moreover, the intended mother must prove that there is a medical reason behind the need for a surrogate pregnancy, preventing her from either getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term.
As in the case of Russia, if a British heterosexual couple undergoes surrogacy in Ukraine, the intended father has to be British, and have a genetic link to the baby born as a result. This will allow them to apply for a Parental Order in the UK — within 6 months after birth and not earlier — and become the legal parents of the child.
US intended parents have fewer restrictions in legal terms. As long as at least one of them contributes the genetic load, there will be no problem when applying for the child’s US passport.
An advantage of Ukraine is that we can choose a family member or a friend as our egg donor. Unless is not a relative or a friend, the donor must remain anonymous by law. Moreover, gender selection through PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) is permitted. Surrogates cannot claim maternity rights even if they wanted to following birth.
How much does it cost?
In Ukraine, the cost of surrogacy is $33,600-$48,100. However, this price does not include the fees of surrogacy consultants, and other professionals involved in the surrogacy process.
In the country of Georgia, located in Eastern Europe, only married heterosexual couples can have a baby via surrogacy, where the partner has to provide consent beforehand.
The intended mother must provide proof that there is actually a medical condition that prevents her from getting pregnant. A valid medical certification is required to this end. The Law includes as medical causes the absence of uterus, or uterine malformations.
After the birth of the child, the name of the intended parents is automatically included on the baby’s birth certificate. However, this is useless under UK law for the reasons listed below:
- UK law will consider the gestational carrier as the legal mother of the baby, and her husband (if she is married).
- If the gestational carrier is single, widowed, or divorced, the process will be easier as the baby will be considered a British citizen automatically, as long as the intended father is British and genetically linked to him or her.
- Irrespective of the marital status of the gestational carrier, a Parental Order must be applied for within 6 months following birth to become the legal parents under UK law.
In the case of US commissioning parents, the Georgian birth certificate with the names of the intended parents is useless as well. Children born abroad from US citizens are granted a US passport only if at least one of the intended parents provided the genetic load for the creation of the embryo.
How much does it cost?
Georgia is also a cost-affordable option: the price of a surrogacy process in this country can range from $36,000 to $48,000.
Surrogacy is allowed to foreign patients since July 2014. The average cost is $42,000-$60,300, and payments to the gestational carrier above $14,400 are forbidden.
Currently, only heterosexual couples and single females can access surrogacy in Greece. However, a new law that would allow gay marriage is envisaged, which might allow this fertility treatment for this family type as well.
The Greek law specifies that the age limit for intended mothers is set at 50 years. Moreover, to be accepted into a surrogacy program, women have to provide medical justification to prove that they are infertile or experience trouble getting pregnant.
Also, one should keep in mind that a person failing to comply with the law can be sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment, and a fine of $1,800 or more.
On the other hand, a Greek court must authorize the embryo transfer to the gestational carrier beforehand. This court ruling can include the acknowledgement of legal parentage in favor of the intended parents, yet it is useless for patients from the UK and the USA for the reasons we list below:
- Intended parents from UK
- even if their names are included on the Greek birth certificate of the baby, a Parental Order has to be applied for within 6 months following birth and no earlier. Failing to do this would mean that the surrogate and her husband, if any, are the legal parents of the baby under UK law. Single females must apply for an Adoption Order.
- Intended parents from USA
- The only way for a child born abroad to US parents to be considered a US citizen is if at least one parent is genetically linked to him/her. Single women can have a baby via surrogacy in Greece as long as they use their own oocytes.
Suggested for you
Those in need of surrogacy to create their family are typically filled with doubts regarding the most suitable destination country for them and the best company (agency, clinic, consultancy…) to work with. This is the purpose of Surrofair, and that is why we have created a virtual assistant that provides guidance to intended parents on a 24-hour-a-day basis, and helps you get as much information as possible regarding this reproductive treatment.
We recommend that you ask Lucy, our intelligent virtual assistant, about anything and she will solve any FAQs you may have. Lucy will understand anything you tell her and determine the best destination for you, showing you the companies that best fit your needs.