Surrogacy in the UK
Surrogacy is legal in the UK, but there are some restrictions affecting how things work.
Surrogacy brokering services
The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 makes it illegal for third parties (except non-profit making organisations) to match parents and surrogates in the UK. Non-profit making surrogacy agencies can match (subject to some complicated restrictions) but there is no licensing or best practice regulation.
Surrogacy matching services have historically been offered in the UK through COTS and Surrogacy UK, organisations run by surrogates and parents on a volunteer basis. In 2013, our team set up Brilliant Beginnings, a third non-profit UK surrogacy agency offering professional support with international and UK surrogacy, within the framework allowed by UK law.
It is a criminal offence (carrying a penalty of imprisonment) for commercial organisations to broker surrogacy arrangements in the UK. The offences include keeping lists of intended parents and surrogates, matching them, and negotiating surrogacy agreements. They apply to any activity carried out in the UK, no matter where the organisation is based. Although there has not to date been a prosecution under the 1985 Act, in 2013 the High Court referred a UK-based surrogacy agency to the authorities for investigation (J v G (2013).
It is a criminal offence in the UK to advertise that you are:
- Looking for a surrogate mother
- Willing to act as a surrogate mother
- A third party willing to facilitate the making of a surrogacy arrangement (although this last offence does not apply to non profit making organisations).
The law catches adverts online worldwide as well as in print, if they are placed by someone in the UK and can be viewed in the UK. It also catches the publishers of adverts in the UK.
Modern surrogacy in the UK - The Review (journal) article, September 2009
Your surrogate will keep the baby, won't she? - Infertility Network UK magazine, winter 2011