Intended Parents

What are the International Surrogacy Laws by Country?

Whereas the United States is a reasonably surrogacy-friendly country, a lot of nations around the world are not.

Many countries either severely restrict or completely outlaw the practice of surrogacy.

Reach out to a domestic surrogacy professional and an international surrogacy professional to decide what surrogacy journey is right for your family. In this article, we’ll detail the laws in countries around the world to help you begin your research process.

Disclaimer: While this article will give you some helpful base knowledge when it comes to international surrogacy laws, it should not be taken as legal advice. Please contact an experienced international surrogacy lawyer before pursuing international surrogacy.

Countries Where Surrogacy is Legal

In some countries, the national government does not regulate surrogacy, but certain states and provinces do.

Keep in mind: Just because a country or province does not have federal laws prohibiting surrogacy does not mean it’s the best choice for an international surrogacy. A lack of regulations can quickly open up the possibility of ethically questionable procedures.

If you’re considering an international surrogacy, there’s really only one country that has solidly defined laws that protect both surrogates and intended parents from potential legal challenges: the United States. While surrogacy laws do vary by state, in the states where surrogacy is allowed, the practice is well-regulated and the process is completed legally and ethically. Therefore, the United States is usually the best choice for international intended parents.

There are several countries where surrogacy is not prohibited — but not really regulated, either:

  • Kenya: No formal law, although commercial surrogacy is “permissible” and there are certain legal protections in place
  • Malaysia: No formal law; commercial surrogacy is “permissible” and legal guidelines are currently under review
  • Nigeria: No formal law; commercial surrogacy “permissible”

Because the legalities surrounding surrogacy in these countries can be ambiguous, it’s important to seriously talk with a lawyer if you’re considering surrogacy in Kenya, Malaysia or Nigeria. Less restriction may make surrogacy possible, but it usually causes ethical issues with no laws protecting surrogates and intended parents during the process.

If you’re considering international surrogacy, you should look to a country with well-defined, well-regulated surrogacy laws for completing your parenthood journey — the United States.

Countries Where Surrogacy is Restricted

Other countries may allow surrogacy — but only on the basis of certain standards that can make the process more difficult or ethically questionable. Many countries do not allow for compensated surrogacy, which means intended parents must already have a close friend or family member in that country who is willing to complete an altruistic surrogacy. In other countries, surrogacy may be banned entirely for non-citizens — making it impossible for an international intended parent to pursue a surrogacy there.

If intended parents have the choice between a surrogacy-friendly country and one that restricts surrogacy, it would be best to choose the former. Choosing a surrogacy-restricted country may result in legal difficulties for intended parents trying to bring their baby back to their native country.

However, certain surrogacy restrictions may actually make surrogacy safer than in unrestricted countries, so it’s up to you and your lawyer to determine which choice is best for your individual situation.

Countries Where Surrogacy is Prohibited

Finally, there are countries that completely outlaw all kinds of surrogacy or make surrogacy impossible to complete by making contracts unenforceable. While it’s likely that surrogacy still occurs in private deals, it’s highly recommended that you do not pursue a surrogacy in one of these countries, due to the possible legal repercussions involved.

Here are the countries to avoid for surrogacy:

  • Cambodia
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Bulgaria
  • Nepal

Clearly, the international laws regarding surrogacy are variable and complicated. If you’re looking to complete a surrogacy, the safest and friendliest place to do so is within the United States. Many international couples come to the U.S. for surrogacy because of the state regulations that permit commercial surrogacy and protect both parties of the agreement fully.

Regardless of where you end up completing your surrogacy, make sure that you completely understand the surrogacy laws in that country and how you can protect your interests as a prospective surrogate or intended parent.

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