Carrying a pregnancy for someone who cannot do so themselves is an incredible thing to do. Surrogacy is legal in the UK and, if you follow the right legal process, you will no longer be a legal parent of the child you give birth to.
This guide steers you through the UK legal issues you will need to think about.
Can I enter into a surrogacy agreement?
The legal issues in UK surrogacy are dealt with after the birth rather than upfront. Although it’s a very good idea to put things in writing at the outset to help you and your intended parent/s be clear about what you have agreed and to work through all the issues you need to consider, any UK surrogacy agreement you put in place is not legally binding. It also cannot be negotiated by a lawyer on your behalf, but you can get support from a non-profit surrogacy organisation.
Find out more about surrogacy in the UK.
How does legal parenthood and birth registration work?
You will be recorded on the child’s initial birth certificate as the mother and will need to attend the birth registration appointment (although you can register the child with his or her parents’ surname).
If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse will be registered as the child’s father or second legal parent. It is not possible for your spouse to opt out of being a legal parent, unless there is a genuine reason to show that he or she did not consent to the conception (for example if you are separated and he/she is not involved in the surrogacy at all).
If you are not married, one of the intended parents can be named on the initial birth certificate with you if they attend the birth registration too. This is usually the biological father, but if you conceive at a UK fertility clinic you will be given the option of choosing the other intended parent instead (provided you sign the right parenthood forms at the clinic to elect this before embryo transfer).
Find out more about parenthood after surrogacy in the UK.
How do we sort out legal parenthood after the birth?
Your intended parent/s need to apply to the family court for a parental order after you have registered the birth. Once the order is made, the initial birth certificate will be cancelled and a new one will be issued which names the intended parent/s as the legal parents. At this point, your legal status as a parent (and that of your spouse) is fully and permanently extinguished.
The court application takes 4-12 months and is mainly managed by the intended parent/s, who will have to satisfy the court that they meet all the criteria and that the order is in their child’s best interests. You will be asked to sign some documents and will usually be visited at home by a parental order reporter from CAFCASS to confirm your consent.
Find out more about parental orders.
What expenses can I claim?
It is not illegal to be paid more than reasonable expenses for surrogacy in the UK, but when your intended parents apply for their parental order they will have to disclose what they have paid and either satisfy the court it is for no more than expenses, or ask the court to ‘authorise’ what they have paid. In practice, most UK surrogates stick to a broad expenses framework albeit that it is common for it to include some acknowledgment of your inconvenience as well as your out of pocket costs.
Find out more about how much UK surrogates can be paid from the website of our sister organisation Brilliant Beginnings.
Do I get maternity leave as a surrogate?
Yes you do. You are entitled to the same maternity leave and pay as if you were having your own child.
Why do I need a will?
There will be a period of time from the birth until the parental order during which the child you give birth to will be your legal child, rather than the legal child of your intended parents. It is important to make a will so that, if you die during this time, your assets will go to your own children, and your intended parents will have responsibility for their own child.
Find out more about wills and other legal issues for the limbo period.
The UK’s leading surrogacy lawyers
Find out more about how we support families through surrogacy
Further resources for surrogates
Our sibling organisation Brilliant Beginnings has an information centre about UK surrogacy
Surrogacy in the UK (UK law)
It is, and always has been, legal to enter into a surrogacy arrangement in the UK. However, the legal framework established by the Surrogacy…
Legal rights in the post-birth period (surrogacy)
Since UK law does not recognise the intended parents as the legal parents of their child from birth, there is a…
Parental orders (surrogacy law)
The intended UK legal solution for resolving parenthood in surrogacy cases is a parental order. This is a court order…