Surrogacy Around the World

While there are no federal laws governing surrogacy in the United States, there are jurisdictional laws that either allow surrogacy, limit surrogacy or restrict surrogacy, depending upon the state in which you live.  What if you live in a country outside of the United States?  The network of professionals at Simple Surrogacy includes attorneys who are well-versed in state and international law. Surrogacy laws vary widely from one country to the next, which is the reason many international intended parents choose to work in the U.S. with Simple Surrogacy. Here, we will examine some of the laws regarding surrogacy worldwide.

Countries Where Commercial Surrogacy is Legal

Commercial surrogacy occurs when a surrogate mother is paid to carry a child for a couple or an individual. This type of surrogacy is legal in some areas outside of the United States, including:

  • Brazil– A surrogate contract recognizes the intended parents as legal parents from the moment of the child’s birth.
  • Iran– Both commercial and altruistic surrogacy is legal in Iran.
  • Russia- Gestational surrogacy, both commercial and altruistic, is legal in Russia as long as there is a medical reason for it, for single people, gay couples and married heterosexual couples.
  • South Korea
  • Thailand– Commercial surrogacy is legal in Thailand, but only for married heterosexual couples. However, foreigners are not allowed to travel to Thailand for a commercial surrogacy contract.

Countries Where Altruistic Surrogacy is Legal

The opposite of commercial surrogacy, altruistic surrogacy involves a surrogate mother not receiving compensation for carrying a baby for a couple or individual (beyond some expenses). This type of surrogacy tends to be more commonly legal worldwide, in areas such as:

  • Australia– Altruistic surrogacy is legal everywhere except the Northwest Territory. Commercial surrogacy in Australia is considered a criminal offense.
  • Belgium
  • The Netherlands –Altruistic surrogacy is legal in Belgium and the Netherlands. However, only one hospital in the countries currently performs surrogacy births, meaning that many intended parents travel outside of their country to seek surrogacy services.
  • Canada- Altruistic surrogacy is legal in all parts of Canada except Quebec, which does not recognize nor enforce surrogacy contracts of any type.
  • Denmark
  • Hong Kong – Commercial surrogacy is illegal here. Altruistic surrogacy is only legal if the egg and sperm of the intended parents are used.
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa- Altruistic surrogacy is legal here for single persons, gay couples and heterosexual couples, with the following stipulations:
    • Single intended parents must be genetically related to the child
    • If the intended parents are a couple, both must be genetically related to the child (unless the couple is same sex or one is infertile)
    • Intended parent/s must not be able to have children of their own
    • Surrogate mother must have had at least one live birth
    • Surrogate mother has 60 days after the child’s birth to change her mind about giving the child to the intended parent/s
  • United Kingdom– Surrogacy is legal here as long as the surrogate is not being paid for anything except her expenses. However, surrogacy contracts are not seen as being legally enforceable in the United Kingdom, meaning that the surrogate mother maintains legal rights to the child, unless an adoption order or parental order is put into place.

Countries That Allow Surrogacy, With Restrictions

Some countries allow surrogacy in specific cases only. They include:

  • Georgia- Altruistic and commercial surrogacy are legal when:
    • Intended parents must be a married heterosexual couple
  • Greece – Surrogacy is legal, but intended parents must:
    • Be a heterosexual couple or a single female
    • The female must be medically unable to carry a child and under age 50
  • Israel – Gestational surrogacy is legal, with the following stipulations:
    • Every contract must be approved by the state
    • Restricted to Israeli citizens of the same religion
    • Restricted to heterosexual married couples
  • Ukraine- Gestational surrogacy is legal if:
    • Intended parents are a heterosexual married couple
  • Portugal – While traditional surrogacy is illegal here, gestational altruistic surrogacy is legal, but only in the following cases:
    • Intended parents are heterosexual couples in which the woman cannot medically carry a child
    • Intended parents are lesbian couples who meet the medical requirements
    • Male homosexual couples cannot become parents by surrogacy here, nor can single parents
  • Vietnam – Surrogacy is allowed for altruistic, non-commercial purposes only, and only when:
    • Intended parents are a married heterosexual couple who do not already have a child
    • The embryo implanted into the surrogate must come from the intended parents’ ovum and sperm
    • The surrogate must be related to the wife or husband
    • The surrogate must have already experienced a live birth
    • The surrogate must agree to only be a surrogate once in her life
    • If the surrogate is married, her husband must agree to her surrogacy

Countries Where Surrogacy Is Illegal or Contracts Aren’t Recognized

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • China- Although surrogacy is banned in China, it is said that many surrogate births occur here. Many Chinese intended parents do, however, travel outside of their home country to seek surrogacy services.
  • Croatia
  • Finland
  • France- Although surrogacy is currently illegal in France, the government has been debating legalizing it.
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India– Commercial surrogacy has been illegal in India since November 2015. No new surrogacy contracts (even altruistic) will be started.
  • Italy
  • Japan- Surrogacy has traditionally been illegal in Japan. However, some doctors will perform surrogate births. There are currently no laws or contracts protecting either intended parents or surrogate mothers.
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland- Not only is surrogacy illegal in Switzerland, but clinicians who perform in vitro fertilization for surrogacy or anyone who arranges a surrogacy can be punished under the law.

Countries Where it is Illegal to Live There and Seek International Surrogacy

  • New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland (Australia)– It is illegal to enter into an international surrogacy contract, and punishable by up to three years in prison.

Countries That Recognize Foreign Surrogacy

  • Germany– Although surrogacy is illegal in Germany, in 2018 a court there ruled that German officials must recognize children born in countries in which surrogacy is legal as the legal children of German intended parents.
  • France- Surrogacy is illegal here, but French courts will recognize a child born via surrogacy to French intended parents in a country in which surrogacy is legal.
  • Spain– Although surrogacy is not legal in Spain, Spain will recognize a child born of surrogacy in another country in which it is legal, as long as the surrogate mother is from that country.
  • Israel- Same-sex couples cannot become parents via surrogacy in Israel, but they may do so in another country in which surrogacy is legal and their parenthood will be recognized in Israel upon their return.
  • Switzerland – Although surrogacy is illegal in Switzerland, in 2014, a court in Switzerland recognized a gay Swiss couple as the legal parents of a surrogate child born in the United States.

Countries That Do Not Recognize Foreign Surrogacy

In these countries, if you are a resident of that country but choose to go to another country to have a child by surrogacy, you and your partner will likely not be recognized as the child’s legal parents upon your return. They include:

  • Italy
  • New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland (Australia)

Countries That Do Not Allow International Surrogacy to Occur There

  • Thailand- Since the Protection of Children Born from Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act was passed in 2015, foreigners are no longer allowed to travel to Thailand for a commercial surrogacy contract.
  • Tabasco, Mexico – A law in 2017 bans surrogate mothers in the State of Tabasco, Mexico from bearing children for foreign intended parents. Children born to surrogate mothers there are subject to being taken away by law enforcement officials.

Countries That Do Not Regulate Surrogacy by Law

Be careful if you live in a country in which there are no laws regarding surrogacy. You might not be recognized as the child’s legal parents or a surrogacy contract may not be upheld in these countries. They include:

  • Albania
  • Colombia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Ireland
  • Kenya
  • Laos
  • Mexico (except Tabasco)
  • Poland

Simple Surrogacy can help you to navigate the international laws regarding surrogacy. Contact us for more information!

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