Surrogacy in UK


Is surrogacy legal?



Yes. It is legal for you to be a surrogate in the UK. The only aspects of surrogacy which are illegal are:


Advertising you cannot advertise that you are willing to be a surrogate and looking for intended parents.
Commercial brokering it is a criminal offence for a third party (i.e. not a surrogate or intended parents) to provide matching services for profit. Brilliant Beginnings is a non profit-making organisation, and operates fully within the law.



Can I sign a legally-binding surrogacy agreement?



Not in the UK; the law specifically says that surrogacy agreements are unenforceable. This means that in practice, it is important that you invest in your relationship with your intended parents. Remember that you will both be equally worried about the prospect of things breaking down. You both need to communicate clearly at the outset, so that you have trust and confidence in each other. It is also important that your relationship is nurtured during the process, and that everyone communicates well and supports each other appropriately and respectfully. What this means in practice is very personal, but we are there throughout to help you.



Who will be the legal parents of the child?



At birth, UK law treats you as the child's mother, even if you are not the biological mother and do not wish to be a parent.  You will be registered as the mother on the child's initial birth certificate.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your husband/civil partner will be the child's other parent. Again, he or she will be registered as the other parent on the child's initial birth certificate.  Many spouses of surrogates ask us whether they can opt out of being recorded on the birth certificate.  Unfortunately this is not possible unless it can be proved (as a question of fact) that he or she does not consent to the conception.  However, bear in mind that this is just a temporary position and the birth certificate will be re-issued after a parental order is made.

If you are not married, then one of your intended parents can be the other parent immediately from birth and can be named on the birth certificate with you.  If you conceive at home or at a clinic outside the UK, this has to be the biological father.  If you conceive at a UK-licensed clinic, you can choose together which intended parent it should be.



What happens next?



UK intended parents who are couples can apply for a parental order after the birth and this usually takes six to nine months.  Once granted, the birth certificate is re-registered in the names of the intended parents, and your legal status as a parent is fully and permanently extinguished.

To grant a parental order, the family court has to be satisfied that the order is in the child’s best interests and that:


You (and your husband or civil partner) consent to the order. Your consent is only valid if given more than six weeks after the birth.
Your intended parents are a couple in a marriage/civil partnership or stable cohabiting relationship, and are both over 18.
At least one of them is the child’s biological parent.
At least one of them is domiciled in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
The child is in their care when they apply.
The court is satisfied that no more has been paid to you and to any agency involved than 'reasonable expenses' or, alternatively, the court agrees to authorise the payment.  This means that, if you agree to be paid more than your reasonable expenses, the process of getting a parental order might be more complicated for your intended parents as the High Court will have to scrutinise things before a decision is made.

If you work with a single intended parent, the law is more complicated because single applicants cannot currently apply for parental orders. Other options may be available, but this needs careful planning, and as a surrogate you need to understand the legal implications fully before being matched with a single intended parent.