DATE PUBLISHED: 31 Oct 2018 LAST UPDATED: 16 Mar 2021

Is Surrogacy Legal in the UK?

There are lots of common misconceptions about surrogacy; one particularly is whether surrogacy is actually legal in the UK.

Surrogacy is legal in the UK, although surrogacy UK law has various restrictions in place within the legal framework which are worth knowing about before you start your surrogacy journey.

Surrogacy agreements

Any written surrogacy agreement that you have with your surrogate won’t be legally binding.

However, it’s a very good idea to have a written agreement in place, to help ensure that you are all on the same page about how things will work and to encourage you to discuss sensitive and tricky issues.


It’s illegal in the UK to advertise that you are looking for a surrogate, or that you’d like to be a surrogate. It’s also illegal for intermediaries (surrogacy agencies) to make a profit through establishing surrogacy arrangements (under the Surrogacy
Arrangements Act 1985). There are agencies in the UK, but these are all non-profit organisations.

Legal parenthood

The surrogate will be your child’s legal mother initially, and if she is married, her spouse will be the legal father. There is a post-birth court process which you need to follow to secure your legal parentage, transferring parenthood from your surrogate (and her spouse, if she’s married) to you.


Another common myth is that it’s illegal to pay a surrogate more than expenses. The law surrounding payments during a surrogacy arrangement is rather vague, particularly as there is no definition of what the court considers to be ‘reasonable expenses’.

Ultimately if the court thinks that money over and above ‘reasonable expenses’ has been paid to the surrogate, it doesn’t mean that the parents won’t be able to have a parental order. However, the court will want to look carefully at the payments that have been made, and will want to see that things have been handled in an ethical and honest manner.

If you are planning a surrogacy journey or have a baby through surrogacy and would like advice on surrogacy UK law, visit our fertility and surrogacy law services page or contact our highly specialist Family Team who will be able to assist. Call our expert team on 01202 525333 or send us an email enquiry at

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