International surrogacy is a complicated enough process when you consider the logistics of transporting your embryos to a different country for the transfer process, communicating with a surrogacy professional and surrogate halfway across the world and following the legal process to establish your child’s citizenship in the United States after birth. However, the first big hurdle you’ll have to overcome is learning about international surrogacy laws — and where it’s even legal for you to begin an international surrogacy process.
As international surrogacy has become more popular over the past years, the countries where surrogacy is legal have undergone substantial legislative changes that affect exactly whether or not (and how) you can complete a surrogacy abroad as an American intended parent. Unfortunately, many of those new laws restrict or ban surrogacy for foreign intended parents altogether, which limits the options available to you.
If you’re interested in learning more about surrogacy laws by country, it’s best to talk to an experienced surrogacy lawyer in that country and a surrogacy lawyer in the U.S. to make sure that this process is possible for you. Because international surrogacy laws change so often, it’s best to speak to someone who is up-to-date on this topic, as well as stay informed by reading surrogacy news yourself.
As a general guideline, we’ve included here a list of countries where surrogacy is legal and illegal today. Remember, these laws are always subject to change, so speak to an international surrogacy agency for more information on any specific country.
Countries Where Surrogacy is Legal
While there are several countries where the surrogacy process itself is legal for native residents, many of them restrict the process for international intended parents. If you’re looking for a safe country that allows for a well-regulated process of surrogacy, your best option will always be the United States.
There are no national surrogacy laws in the U.S., but each state has its own laws regarding surrogacy — and most of them are favorable in one way or another for the process. Surrogacy agencies like American Surrogacy make sure to work with surrogates from surrogacy-friendly states, allowing the intended parents that they work with to complete a well-regulated and standardized process that’s positive for all involved. Therefore, there’s really no better option for surrogacy than the United States today.
However, there are several other countries where surrogacy is legal — but there’s a catch. These countries’ international surrogacy laws are either loosely defined or nonexistent at all; surrogacy in these countries may not be properly regulated. Therefore, while you can likely legally complete a surrogacy in these countries, it will be a process open to legal, medical and political risk that cannot be supported by protective surrogacy laws.
Here are some of the countries where surrogacy is not regulated but still a possibility:
Nigeria has no formal surrogacy law, although commercial surrogacy is “permissible.”
Malaysia also has no formal surrogacy laws and regulations. Commercial surrogacy is “permissible,” and the legal guidelines for surrogacy in this country are reportedly currently under review.
Kenya has no formal surrogacy law. However, commercial surrogacy is “permissible,” and there are certain legal protections in place for intended parents and surrogates.
Again, while you may consider surrogacy in one of these countries, you’ll need to work closely with an experienced lawyer to make sure that you meet necessary requirements and that there is a legal, safe process that you can follow. If there are any possible legal risks that arise for you in Nigeria, Malaysia or Kenya, we highly encourage you to consider a surrogacy in the United States instead.
Countries Where Surrogacy is Restricted
There are other countries where surrogacy is legal for international intended parents, but you may have to meet certain standards and requirements to even be considered for a surrogacy there. Many countries will not allow compensated surrogacy, which means a surrogate cannot receive any payment for her service (which steps into ethically questionable areas). Other countries have simply shut down their surrogacy programs to intended parents who are not nationals (India being the most recent one).
One of the best examples of these countries is Ukraine, which allows for compensated surrogacy but only for married heterosexual couples who meet certain requirements. You’ll need to seriously be aware of all possible restrictions with any surrogacy laws by country if you’re thinking about international surrogacy. You may think you can complete a surrogacy in a certain country and then find out (after wasted time and money) that you actually don’t fit all of the requirements necessary.
However, a country where surrogacy is restricted can actually be safer than a country like Nigeria or Malaysia, where there are no restrictions at all. Overall, you should look for a process that’s well-defined (if not through international surrogacy laws, then through a process that’s been developed by experienced surrogacy professionals in that country). In many cases, you’ll only find this in a surrogacy-friendly country like the United States.
Countries Where Surrogacy is Illegal
Finally, there are many countries around the world where any form of surrogacy (whether compensated or altruistic, domestic or international) is outlawed. While surrogacy may have been legal in these countries in the past, an influx of surrogacy procedures and an inability to regulate them may have led to laws that completely outlaw the practice rather than attempt to create a legal structure around it. Therefore, these are not countries that you should attempt to work in if you are an intended parent:
Clearly, if you’re looking to complete a surrogacy today, your safest and most available choice will be the United States, as other international surrogacy laws are either unfriendly to surrogacy or could be subject to change at any time based on political situations. Many international intended parents also complete their surrogacy process in the United States, and American Surrogacy is honored to help these people through our own international surrogacy program.
Wherever you end up deciding to pursue surrogacy among the countries where surrogacy is legal, even if it’s within the U.S., it’s important to fully understand how surrogacy laws work and can impact your surrogacy process. To learn more about surrogacy in the United States today, please contact one of our surrogacy specialists at 1-800-875-2229(BABY).
Remember, while this article offers you a good general base of information about international surrogacy laws, it should not be taken as legal advice. Please speak to an experienced surrogacy lawyer to learn more about surrogacy laws by country.