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Surrogacy in the UK | Law | Process | Cost

Surrogacy in the UK | Law | Process | Cost

An Inclusive Guide on Surrogacy in the UK for Intended Parents 

Using surrogacy to start or expand their families is an option for heterosexual and same–sex couples and single prospective parents from diverse backgrounds. There are many reasons why prospective parents turn to surrogacy. These include an absence from the birth or due to hysterectomy or abnormal uterus, a serious risk to health that may result from pregnancy, recurrent miscarriage, repeated failure of IVF treatment, perimenopause and premature menopause, and LGBT+ parent(s) wanting to create a family. There are also such cases when prospective mothers have received a tubal ligation and then hysterectomy they wish they hadn’t now, and they are wishing to be moms. The others may try multiple IVF attempts but experience implantation failures each time. And there are single fathers and gay couples who are unable to have a baby without a surrogate.. 

While using surrogacy is legal, paying the altruistic surrogate for carrying a baby is illegal in the UK. Overseas surrogacy destinations, such as the United States, Georgia, Ukraine, and some other countries’ legislation allows commercial surrogacy. Still, the United Kingdom prohibits such arrangements and only allows paying for reasonable surrogate expenses. In this article, we will explore surrogacy law in the UK, who can enter into a surrogacy arrangement, how to become a legal parent, the different types of surrogacy, how surrogacy works, how much it costs, and other essential things involved into surrogacy treatment, such as egg donation, sperm donation, shipping an embryo from the clinic located overseas and more. Let’s start with legislation. 

Surrogacy Law in the UK

Altruistic (non–profit) surrogacy is legal in the UK, but commercial (for–profit) surrogacy is not. While legal, surrogacy agreements aren’t enforceable by law. Finding an altruistic UK surrogate can be difficult, which is why many British couples consider the surrogacy process in countries where there is greater availability of surrogates, and commercial surrogacy is allowed, facing more legal hurdles with international surrogacy. For intended parents initiating surrogacy arrangements in the UK, it is advised to consult a solicitor before the pregnancy.

Current law in the UK comes from the Surrogacy arrangements act 1985 and Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008.

Under current law, the surrogate is the legal mother of any child born through a surrogacy arrangement, regardless of location (England, Wales, or Scotland). If the surrogate is married or in a civil partnership, their husband or spouse will automatically become the child’s second legal parent at birth, except in cases where they haven’t provided consent.

In some cases, however, an intended parent might be recognized as the legal father from birth. This can occur when the surrogacy arrangement is initiated with an unmarried or divorced surrogate who has no legal partner. However, it is essential to note that often neither (or only one) of the intended parents will be legal parents at birth.

To establish their legal parenthood and ensure the child’s legal well–being, intended parents must apply for a Parental Order. This court order effectively transfers legal parenthood from the surrogate and her husband/spouse (if applicable). The legal process can take anywhere from several months to a year, depending on the specific case. In many cases, at least one of the intended parents will be genetically related to the child through their provided sperm or oocytes used in IVF. In some cases, adoption after birth may also be an option for intended parents to secure legal parenthood, but this process may have different requirements and considerations.

In contrast to domestic surrogacy arrangements, which are handled through family courts, international surrogacy cases seeking a Parental Order require a more complex and lengthy process due to the involvement of multiple legal jurisdictions. These cases are handled exclusively by the High Court.

Proposed New Surrogacy Law

The proposed reforms aim to simplify legal parenthood for domestic surrogacy. Regulated, non–profit surrogacy organizations will oversee a new pathway with mandatory screening, legal advice, and counseling for all parties. If criteria are met, intended parents become legal parents at birth (with a short window for the surrogate to withdraw consent). While consent withdrawal after 6 weeks requires a court application, the court can still grant a Parental Order if it prioritizes the child’s best interests (a significant improvement over the current system where intended parents aren’t automatically legal parents).

While commercial surrogacy and enforceability of agreements remain prohibited, the reforms aim for more transparent rules on permitted payments to surrogates. These payments would cover lost earnings, medical expenses, and well–being costs, ensuring the surrogate isn’t financially disadvantaged. Payments for carrying the child and other compensation would be banned.

Despite the uncertainty of the legislative process, the proposed surrogacy reforms offer significant improvements to the existing law. There is no guarantee the UK government will proceed with a draft bill, and even if they do, extensive parliamentary debates and amendments can cause delays. These proposed changes would simplify legal parenthood for intended parents, establish clearer rules around payments to surrogates, and introduce other safeguards.

Egg Donation in the United Kingdom 

Prospective parents having issues with their ovaries (like premature ovarian failures), ovulation (irregular or absent), egg release (irregular or absent), a history of recurrent pregnancy loss, and the risk of transmitting genetic conditions can opt for donation treatment. Intending mothers with a low reserve of eggs left, including cases when all the collected eggs have chromosome problems, may also benefit from egg donation.

In the UK, egg donation is legal and regulated by The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority; however, it is illegal to pay a woman for her eggs. Instead, egg donors may receive up to £750 for each donation cycle (at present) in compensation to help cover any costs and expenses for attending each appointment, travel costs, and any other expenses for time and commitment throughout the process.

Egg donation is not ultimately anonymous in the UK. Currently, all altruistic donors (including egg sharers where a woman undergoing IVF uses some of her eggs and donates the rest to help another couple) and recipient couples/single individuals must remain anonymous to each other. Although a donor’s identity won’t be known to the receiving couple or single parent at the time of donation, the donor–conceived child (children) will have the legal right to know identifying information about the donor when reaching 16 years (physical description (height, weight, eye, hair, and skin color), the year and country of the donor’s birth, ethnicity, marital status, any relevant personal and family medical history), and when reaching 18 years the donor’s full name (now and at birth), the donor’s date and the town of birth, the most recent address, and any other information that has been previously removed because it would have revealed the donor’s identity.

The other option the intended parents have is a known donation arrangement when a known egg, sperm, or embryo donor is a relative, friend, or someone else already known to the intending couple or person seeking treatment. In such scenarios, the identity of the donor is known from the very beginning.

Whether preferring an anonymous or known egg donor, any egg donation IVF initiated in the United Kingdom requires full consent from both the donor and recipient, which ensures all parties involved are fully aware of the implications of their actions. Before starting the donation cycle, the prospective parents and donors must see the counselor. The counseling sessions explore the emotional and psychological aspects of egg donation for all involved. This includes discussions about expectations, potential challenges, and the long–term impact on the family structure. Only after obtaining informed consent from both the donor and recipient can the IVF cycle using donated eggs proceed.

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Code of Practice allows each donor to help up to 10 families. To donate the eggs in the UK, the donor has to be healthy, aged between 18 and 35 years (but most clinics accept women between 21 and 30), have two functioning ovaries, normal ovarian reserve, and no issues with ovulation. Egg donors must also have no history of a transmittable disease. No personal family history of inheritable disorders. They will also need to undergo health and fertility assessments to ensure that they don’t carry any serious diseases or infections that could be passed on to the baby or gestational mother.

The donor has no legal responsibilities to any child created from a donation. The person who receives a donation (and their partner if they have one) will be the child’s parent(s). A donor is not named on the baby’s birth certificate.

Alternatively, to join the waiting list for egg donation in the UK, the intending couples and single mothers may ask the clinic to import donor eggs from abroad. Although this is a viable option, there are specific guidelines and strict conditions that need to be met, including finding a licensed UK clinic that offers import/export services.

Sperm Donation in the United Kingdom 

Like egg donation, sperm donation is legal in the United Kingdom. All treatments involving sperm donation are regulated by The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and are not fully anonymous. Any child conceived using donated sperm may access the donor’s information when they turn 16 or 18.

The law in the UK prohibits the commercialization of sperm donation. It is illegal to pay sperm donors more than their reasonable expenses. However, to cover their time and effort, each donor is compensated with £35 for each clinic visit, as regulated by the HFEA. This can help cover expenses like travel to the IVF clinic/ Sperm Bank or childcare. Non–UK resident donors receive the same £35 per clinic visit as UK residents, but travel expenses are not reimbursed.

Sperm from a single donor can be used to create families for no more than 10 recipients. There is, however, no limit on the number of children born within each of those families.

For a donor’s sperm to be used in future treatment, it must meet strict screening criteria set out by the HFEA. To be a UK sperm donor, the applicant has to:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 45.
  • Agree to be registered with the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority as a donor.
  • Be willing to undergo screening for medical and genetic conditions.
  • Have no chronic disorders affecting fertility.
  • Have no known serious medical conditions or history of hereditary disorders.
  • Have no history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Sperm banks and fertility clinics screen all applicants thoroughly to ensure they are healthy to donate. This includes an initial consultation, taking a complete family medical history to check for hereditary conditions, and testing for infections and genetic conditions that could be transferred through a donation. They also perform a semen analysis to assess the concentration, morphology (shape), and motility (movement) of sperm in a sample.

Once the semen analysis is complete, sperm that meets the criteria is cryopreserved for a mandatory 6–month “quarantine” period. This period allows for the detection of some infections, like HIV or hepatitis B, which have a long incubation period and might not show up in initial tests.

After the final donation, each donor has a follow–up appointment after 6 months that includes another blood and urine test. This final round of testing mirrors the regular tests done every 3 months during the donation program and serves as a final check to ensure all donated sperm is free of infectious diseases.

Legal Status of Egg and Sperm Donors in the UK

Sperm Donors:

Men who donate sperm through a clinic licensed by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) will not have any legal parental rights or obligations towards any child born using their donated sperm. This includes:

  • Not being named on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Having no legal obligation to provide financial support.
  • Having no say in how the child is raised.

However, if a man donates sperm through a clinic that is not licensed by the HFEA, he may be considered the legal father of any child born from that donation under UK law.

Egg Donors:

Women who donate eggs through an HFEA–licensed clinic also do not have any legal parental rights or obligations towards any child born using their donated eggs. The woman who carries the pregnancy and gives birth is the legal mother of the child — regardless of whether she is the genetic mother.

Shipping vitrified oocytes & embryos & frozen sperm to the UK 

It is possible to ship/transport oocytes, sperm, and embryos into and out of the United Kingdom, but strict conditions need to be met. The intended parents have to find a licensed UK clinic that offers import/export services and will ensure that the import or export meets those strict conditions.

Once the clinic is found, the intending couple or single parent has to contact the sending clinic, inform them that they wish to move their gametes/embryos to the UK fertility center and sign a consent for export. Synchronously, they must contact the receiving IVF clinic to sign consent to import. One more consent form for transport between clinics should also be signed by the intended parents (IPs). The clinics will exchange the documentation to ensure all HFEA requirements are met and negotiate on a suitable shipment date for all parties involved.

Special Considerations for Shipping Biohazardous Embryos and Gametes

There are stricter regulations for transporting (potentially infected) embryos, eggs and sperm potentially infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C. In these cases, some IVF shipping companies can provide specialized, dedicated shippers to ensure safe transport. This is a regulatory requirement to prevent potentially infected materials from coming into contact with negatively screened samples.

Since most IVF clinics cannot store infected embryos or gametes, these specialized shipping companies can offer temporary storage within their transport shippers until the intended parents’ treatment day.

Gender Selection in the United Kingdom 

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulates the use of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) in the UK. This technology allows fertility specialists to test embryos for genetic conditions, including sex before implantation. However, the HFEA code prohibits using PGD solely for sex selection without a medical reason.

Gestational Surrogacy in the UK: Types of Embryo Creation

Most UK programs are crafted for gestational surrogacy arrangements, where the surrogate doesn’t use her oocytes to create the embryos, and thus has no genetic link with a fetus she carries. Here are the common methods for embryo creation:

  • Intended mother’s oocytes: The intended mother’s oocytes are fertilized with sperm from the intended father or a donor.
  • Donor oocytes: Oocytes from a donor are fertilized with sperm from the intended father. This is used if the intended mother cannot use her own eggs, or if the intended parents are a same–sex male couple.
  • Vitrified embryos: If the intended parents have previously created embryos through IVF, they can use frozen (vitrified) embryos for surrogacy rather than starting a new IVF cycle.

Traditional Surrogacy in the UK

Some prospective parents have a unique situation when their close relative (a sister, a sister–in–law, or cousin) desires to help them to carry a baby and may provide the oocytes establishing a unique genetic link with an embryo. In such cases, the traditional surrogate conceives via an intrauterine insemination (IUI) by being inseminated with prospective father’s sperm or will have an IVF round where after stimulation her oocytes will be retrieved and fertilized with intended father’s sperm, and the resulting embryo will be transferred into her uterus. 

UK Surrogacy Process Explained 

Starting the Surrogacy Process

Prospective parents may want to initiate an independent surrogacy (without agency) or work with Surrogacy organizations that may help them find a potential surrogate mother.

Important Note for Independent Matching:

When trying to find a gestational carrier independently, the intending couples and single parents should consider that it is illegal to advertise that they are seeking a surrogate. The same thing is for potential surrogates — the legislation prohibits advertising that they are providing surrogacy services for the prospective parents.

Pre–Arrangement Considerations

Once a surrogate is identified, both parties (the prospective parents and their gestational carrier should discuss potential scenarios and unforeseen circumstances. This should include multiple pregnancies, cesarean deliveries, premature births, and other situations. These discussions can then be documented in a written agreement outlining everyone’s intentions, expectations, and responsibilities.

Surrogacy Agreement

While not legally binding in the UK, a surrogacy agreement outlines the intended parents’ (IPs) and surrogate’s (and her partner’s, if applicable) expectations and commitments throughout the surrogacy process.

It is advisable for the agreement to be negotiated transparently in advance so all parties feel confident about all the details. If there are any parts in which the parties disagree, they should discuss these parts and consult with clinicians, lawyers, fertility counsellors, and non–profit agencies to blueprint the inclusive solution that is ideal for everyone.

Once everyone is in agreement, the finalized document should be signed by all parties involved, and each party should keep a copy.

Important Inclusions of the Surrogacy Arrangement

While the specifics of each surrogacy journey may vary, a well–crafted agreement should address these important aspects:

Parties Involved:

  • Details of the intended parents (IPs)
  • Surrogate’s details (and her partner’s details if applicable)
  • Marital status of all parties at conception

Planning and Procedures:

  • Pre–conception arrangements (consultations with lawyer(s), clinicians, and other experts)
  • Conception details (clinic, number of cycles, embryo creation, number of embryos to transfer)

Pregnancy and Birth:

  • Arrangements for the surrogate’s health, well–being, and emotional support
  • Schedule for tests, clinic visits, and prenatal appointments
  • Level of information provided to IPs and their involvement in appointments/decisions
  • Birth plan

Potential Challenges:

  • Strategies for handling unforeseen circumstances like miscarriage, stillbirth, multiples, fetal reduction, or termination
  • Procedures for managing a breakdown in the relationship between parties

Communication and Future Relationships:

  • Level of openness with any children about their origins
  • Expectations for ongoing communication

Legal Considerations:

  • Parental order application process
  • Overview of legal implications

Financial Agreements:

  • Details of all expenses and costs (how much will be paid, when it will be paid and how it will be paid)
  • Payment schedule for the surrogate and her partner (if applicable)
  • Breakdown of covered costs (treatment, legal fees, others)
  • Conditions for potential adjustments or stoppage of payments to the surrogate

Financial Considerations

Surrogate’s Expenses

The surrogacy agreement should clearly outline expected expenses for the surrogate and how payments will be handled. This transparency helps with budgeting and record–keeping for both parties.

The UK family court considers “reasonable expenses” when approving parental orders. While there is no strict definition, courts have generally accepted expenses related to:

  • Loss of earnings (surrogate and her partner/spouse, if applicable)
  • Additional childcare and housekeeping during pregnancy and clinic visits
  • Extra food, supplements, and pregnancy–related classes/therapies
  • Travel and accommodation for appointments, recovery, and setting up the surrogacy arrangement
  • Maternity clothes and a modest recovery break
  • Other pregnancy and treatment–related incidental expenses

Planning and Transparency:

It is worth noting that prospective parents should estimate and record a lump sum for expenses in the agreement. Payments can then be spread out throughout the pregnancy, if desired.

For the parental order application, intended parents must disclose all payments made to the surrogate. If the court deems any payments excessive, they may need to be retrospectively authorized. The child’s welfare is the court’s primary concern in such cases.

Other Costs

Treatment Costs

Depending on the case, the prospective parents may need to create embryos via IVF or IUI/IVF (for traditional surrogacy). Intending couples and single parents who already have vitrified embryos left from the previous cycle may use them for gestational surrogacy. And in each situation, the base cost may differ from the final one.

The costs are likely to increase if multiple attempts of fertility treatment are required. If the IPs are using an egg or sperm donor, there will be additional costs to pay (for example, if choosing a cycle with a traveling egg donor, legal fees, travel fees, accommodation, the donor’s insurance, incidental costs should be budgeted in addition to the donation, plus, the cost of ICSI IVF as routinely, it is not included in such Egg Donation packages). And if the IVF round includes genetic testing, vitrification, devitrification, assisted hatching, and other add–ons, the total price tag may add up to 69% more than the initial estimate.


As with any pregnancy, a surrogate pregnancy carries some risk. To provide financial protection in case of unforeseen complications, having life insurance in place for the surrogate may be advisable. This may be covered by her existing policy, but it is important to check the terms and exclusions related to pregnancy.

Non–Profit Organization/Agency Fees

IPs who are working with one of the non–profit organizations should budget for their fees/membership costs. These will vary according to the organization, but many non–profits will provide information about their fees on their websites.

Legal Costs

Legal costs are another important factor to consider when budgeting for surrogacy in the UK. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the family court strongly advise seeking legal guidance for anyone considering a surrogacy arrangement. This is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended. Some clinics even require it at the outset.

Many parents choose to represent themselves in straightforward UK surrogacy cases when applying for a parental order. However, legal costs can vary from a few hundred pounds upwards, depending on the level of support and complexity involved.

Pre–Treatment Medical Screening

The intending couple and their surrogate will have to undergo medical assessment before continuing their journey, including genetic screening, testing for specific diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV, and further testing for any other infectious diseases. These assessments aim to ensure the health of everyone involved.

An intended father will have to provide his sperm sample, which will be analyzed in accordance with the HFEA’s guidelines. The sperm will then need to be quarantined for 6 months and after this period he will have to repeat the blood tests. Alternatively, it is possible to create embryos from fresh sperm and oocytes and quarantine the resulting embryos for 6–month timeframe, again repeating the blood test after the quarantine period is complete.


Most clinics require separate counselling sessions for the surrogate, intended parents (IPs), and egg donor (if applicable) to ensure that all parties have fully explored the implications of having a child conceived through surrogacy before starting treatment.

Legal Advice

Some clinics may require IPs to obtain legal advice before starting treatment. This legal advice ensures IPs understand the parental order application process and their rights and responsibilities. The clinic might ask for a letter from a lawyer confirming this consultation. Other clinics may want to review the surrogacy agreement to confirm key decisions have been discussed and agreed upon by all parties involved.

Creating and Transferring Embryos

This stage involves creating embryos for transfer to the surrogate’s uterus. There are two main approaches:

  • Using intended parents’ eggs and sperm: If possible, the intended mother will undergo ovarian stimulation to produce eggs. These eggs are then fertilized with sperm from the intended father.
  • Using donor eggs and/or sperm: If the intended mother cannot provide eggs, or if using donor sperm is preferred, eggs from a donor will be used. In this case, fertilization will occur with sperm from either the intended father or a sperm donor.

It is desirable that the couple or at least one parent provide gametes to have a genetic link with the child.

Typically, clinicians transfer one or two healthy embryos to the surrogate’s uterus to maximize the chances of a successful pregnancy while minimizing the risk of multiples. Following HFEA guidelines, a maximum of two embryos are transferred when using donated eggs.

Waiting for Results and Next Steps

The two weeks following embryo transfer are often filled with anticipation. Clinics will advise on the best time to take a pregnancy test, which is usually around 14 days after the transfer, for accurate results. The surrogate will continue taking medications prescribed by the clinic until the test date.

Positive Pregnancy Test

A positive home pregnancy test is usually confirmed by a blood test at the clinic. A few weeks later, the clinic will schedule an ultrasound scan to confirm a viable pregnancy and determine if it is a singleton (single baby) or a multiple pregnancy. After this scan, the surrogate’s care will typically be transferred to an obstetrician for continued prenatal care.

Negative Pregnancy Test

If the embryo transfer is unsuccessful, the surrogate will likely be advised to stop all medications related to the surrogacy cycle. She may experience a heavier than normal period. If everyone involved agrees to try another transfer cycle, most clinics recommend waiting for two menstrual cycles after the unsuccessful round before restarting treatment.

Pregnancy and Birth

Following a successful embryo transfer, the surrogate’s pregnancy will be monitored by a qualified obstetrician throughout the term. Regular prenatal care, including checkups and ultrasounds, will ensure the baby’s healthy development. The intended parents can be involved in doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds, forging a bond with their soon–to–be child.

Open communication between the parents, surrogate, and obstetrician is vital throughout the pregnancy to establish a birth plan that respects everyone’s wishes. This plan will address details such as who will be present at the birth and the type of delivery (natural or cesarean). As the due date approaches, the surrogate and doctor will closely monitor the pregnancy to determine the optimal timing for delivery.

Planning Discharge

Hospital discharge policies for surrogacy deliveries can vary. It is important for all parties to have a pre–birth discussion to understand if the surrogate and baby can leave together, or if the surrogate can be discharged with the intended parents (IPs) if the baby needs a longer stay. Ultimately, the discharge should be a collaborative decision between the healthcare team, surrogate, and IPs, recognizing the IPs will be the primary caregivers.

Making It Official: Parental Order Process

After a child is born through surrogacy, the intended parents (IPs) need to apply to the family court for a parental order. This legal step formally transfers parenthood from the surrogate (and her husband or partner, if applicable) to the IPs. The surrogate’s full consent is always required.

The process involves the family court and a social worker appointed by the court. This ensures the child’s well–being is the top priority. Magistrates typically handle these applications. However, if the child was born overseas or there are concerns about meeting the parental order criteria, a High Court judge will oversee the case.

Parental Order Criteria

  • To obtain a parental order, intended parents (IPs) must meet specific criteria:
  • Be over 18 years old.
  • Be married, in a civil partnership, living together as partners, or single.
  • Apply within 6 months of the child’s birth.
  • Have at least one IP living permanently in the UK.
  • Have the surrogate’s consent (given at least 6 weeks after birth).
  • Have a child conceived through artificial insemination with a genetic link to at least one IP.
  • Be living with the child.
  • Pay the surrogate only reasonable expenses (unless a court approves otherwise).

The Parental Order Application Process

Obtaining a parental order involves several steps:

1. Application to the Court: IPs (intended parents) must submit a completed application within 6 months of the child’s birth. They may also need to submit a statement after the first hearing, outlining how they meet the criteria and providing evidence.

2. Appointment of a Parental Order Reporter: The court appoints a reporter from Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to investigate the case. This typically takes 2–5 working days.

3. The Reporter’s Investigation: The reporter represents the child’s interests and meets with the IPs and the surrogate. This investigation ensures the surrogate freely consents to the application and usually takes 8–12 weeks. The reporter then submits a report to the court.

4. Court Hearings: The court sets the schedule for hearings. There is usually an initial hearing to check the evidence, followed by a final hearing where the decision is made. In some cases, there might be only one combined hearing.

Obtaining an Updated Birth Certificate

The court will send a copy of the Parental Order to the General Register Office (GRO) which will then add the new entry to the Parental Order Register. The GRO might contact the parents if they require additional information.

Once completed, the GRO will send a letter with instructions on how to order new birth certificates (short and full) online (www.gro.gov.uk) or through the contact details provided. This process is the same regardless of the child’s birthplace. For UK–born children, the GRO will also notify the original birth registry office to annotate the entry with “Re–registered by the Registrar General,” effectively closing it.

Surrogacy Programs in the UK

Depending on the intending couple’s or single mother’s/father’s unique situation and needs, UK clinics may offer different surrogacy packages to adjust to their cases. These packages can include using intended parents’ own eggs or sperm (fresh or frozen), donor eggs or sperm, or even previously frozen embryos. This flexibility allows same–sex male couples, single mothers and fathers, and heterosexual couples facing infertility challenges to all explore the possibility of parenthood through surrogacy.

For hetero couples: 

  • Own fresh oocytes and the partner’s sperm
  • Own frozen oocytes and the partner’s sperm
  • Frozen embryos (previously created)
  • Donor eggs and partner sperm
  • Fresh eggs and donor sperm
  • Frozen eggs and donor sperm

For same–sex male couples: 

  • Donor eggs and either partner’s sperm

Single mothers: 

  • Own fresh eggs and donor sperm
  • Own frozen eggs and donor sperm

Single fathers: 

  • Donor eggs and own sperm

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost in the UK?

There is no fixed cost that can be applied to each case, but there is an estimated cost. In fact, the price is closely related to a number of variables such as whether or not egg donation is required, whether pre–cycle consultations and screenings are included or not, the type of IVF program requested from the fertility clinic (the number of embryo transfers guaranteed which can be one attempt, two, three or unlimited until pregnancy is achieved), medications, medical insurance, and post–cycle care.

Having clarified all aspects regarding possible variables, the average price for a program with a premium traveling egg donor, surrogate mother, multi–cycle Guaranteed IVF clinic program, non–profit organization or agency fees, and legal support is around £60,000–£90,000, and the basic program without egg donation but with three cycles of IVF and three transfers is around £50,000.

A single cycle of IVF using own eggs and the partner’s sperm, one embryo transfer, vitrification of the remaining embryos and basic care may cost the intended parents between £32,000 and £39,000, inclusive of legal fees, basic surrogate’s expenses, uncomplicated natural delivery and short–term stay at the maternity hospital for a newborn and the gestational carrier.

IVF and Gestational Surrogacy

IVF Surrogacy pricing fluctuates between £32,000 and £50,000. In some cases, the total cost can be under £30,000, especially, if the single cycle IVF worked, the surrogate conceived after the first attempt and her pregnancy and delivery was uncomplicated.

Understanding Pricing of the Medical Part

Before starting an In Vitro Fertilization to create embryos, the intended parents should budget pre–treatment fertility testing, especially if it is not included in their IVF package. Before providing a sperm sample, the parents will undergo additional screening, inclusive of some tests.

Generally, pre–IVF stage lasts between 7 and 7.5 months because the fertility tests should be completed, then, the prospective father’s sperm is guaranteed for 6 months, and after the quarantine period, the intending couple must undergo again some virology tests (PCR for HIV, HBV HBC, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HTLV) which takes also some time. These may need to be repeated if the IVF cycle is performed at more than three–month intervals.

  • Initial consultation for IPs: £200–£300 
  • Pre–consultation tests if needed (AMH/ultrasound scan/semen analysis): £120–£160/£200 / £175 
  • Intended father screening (virology, gonorrhea, syphilis, blood group, cystic fibrosis, chromosome karyotype, hemoglobinopathy, sperm culture and sensitivity testing): £1,675–£1,975
  • Intended mother screening (AMH, syphilis, virology, chlamydia, gonorrhea, blood group, full blood count, chromosome karyotype, cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathy): £1,625–£1,975
  • Intended father screening before sperm collection (NAT PCR for HIV, HBV, HBC): £275–£300
  • Intended mother screening before egg collection (NAT PCR for HIV, HBV, HBC): £275–£300
  • Intended father post–quarantine screening (NAT PCR for HIV, HBV HBC, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HTLV): £750–£900
  • Intended mother post–quarantine screening (NAT PCR for HIV, HBV HBC, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HTLV): £750–£900
  • Surrogate pre–consultation saline scan: £400–£500
  • Surrogate initial consultation for the surrogate: £275–£300 
  • Surrogate screening (HIV/HBsAg/HBcAb/hepatitis C), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, CMV (IgG, IgM), full blood count, blood group, rubella, thyroid function, HTLV, hemoglobinopathy): £900–£1,119.
  • Other option is to create embryos, freeze, and “quarantine” them for 6 months instead of sperm. In such situations, the treatment includes egg collection, sperm preparation, IVF, Time–Lapse incubation of fertilized oocytes, embryo assessment, embryo glue, blastocyst culture, embryo vitrification, quarantine period storage, releasing embryos from quarantine, and follow–up consultation prior to transfer: £5,000–£6,300.
  • And if embryos were created, a frozen embryo transfer package can be recommended (cycle management, ultrasound scans, devitrification of embryo(s), and transfer): £2,300–£3,600.

If the couple decides to create fresh embryos, after the quarantine period they will start an in vitro fertilization treatment. A single cycle of IVF without guarantees costs between £4,900 and £6,300. The guaranteed IVF cost starts at £11,900 and may exceed £16,000 depending on the selected program in 2024.

The other IVF expenses, such as medication, preimplantation genetic testing, vitrification of embryos, and additional transfer (using a devitrified embryo if fresh or previous frozen transfer failed), may add between £1,199 and £6,369.

Each unsuccessful round of in vitro fertilization using own oocytes and the partner’s sperm will add £4,900 minimum.

Estimated Costs of In Vitro Fertilization Treatment in the UK (2024):

  • Initial Consult (fertility testing is not included): £150 – £300
  • Initial Consult with basic testing and ultrasound scan: £390 – £639
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Cycle with Fresh Eggs: £4,900 – $5,900
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) Cycle with Fresh Eggs: £5,900–£6,300
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) 3–cycle package: £11,900–£13,900
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) 3–cycle package with ICSI: £13,900–£16,000

Usually, the above prices are inclusive of blastocyst culture, EmbryoScope, blood tests, sedation for egg retrieval, and IVF lab costs. Personal medication costs between £500 and £3,000 per cycle, and in a few cases, the pharmaceutical expenses may range between £300 and £390.

Premium IVF programs are available for £11,900–£16,000, but they may not cover genetic testing IVF, the fourth transfer attempt, or the fourth IVF cycle if the previous one failed.

Surrogacy with Egg Donation

Prospective parents seeking egg donation surrogacy should expect to pay legal fees, pre–treatment medical screening, insurance (if the surrogate mother’s insurance policy does not cover the services associated with pre–conception, pregnancy, and post–pregnancy), expenses for the egg donation process (legal fees, the donor’s insurance, travel costs, accommodation, incidental fees, lost wages), the surrogate’s reasonable expenses including medication, lost wages, and other fees related to the journey.

The egg donation costs in the UK vary from £8,000 to £20,000, depending on the type of donation (fresh or frozen), the donor (local or traveling, premium or not premium), the number of donations (single Stim with one egg retrieval or DuoStim with two egg retrievals), with an average egg donation cost of £14,000.

  • IVF with donor eggs using a known egg donor: £6250–£6,650
  • IVF cycle using known egg donor (inclusive of donor’s and IPs pre–treatment screening, donor initial screening, donor medication, and embryo transfer (or freeze if no transfer): £13,590–£19,119
  • IVF with donor eggs: £11,369–£11,639
  • IVF with vitrified donor’s eggs (8 frozen eggs): £9,900–10,369
  • IVF with vitrified donor’s eggs (10 frozen eggs): £11,700–12,639
  • IVF with vitrified donor’s eggs (12 frozen eggs): £13,500–£14,900
Potential additional costs involved: 
  • ICSI: £1,390–£1,690
  • IMSI: £1,800–£1,900
  • Embryo freezing including 1st year storage (if applicable): £900–£1,600
  • Recipient female screening tests (Blood pressure; Full blood count; Virology: HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B core antibodies, Hepatitis B surface antigen, Hepatitis C antibodies; Thyroid profile; CMV IgG and IgM; Chlamydia; Rubella IgG): £600–£790
  • Male screening tests (Virology (HIV 1&2, Hepatitis B core antibodies, Hepatitis B surface antigen, Hepatitis C antibodies): £150–£279

Some fertility clinics suggest opting for an inclusive Egg Donation IVF bundle instead of a single attempt. These bundles often include additional IVF cycles at a reduced cost, which can be beneficial if the first attempt at fertilization is unsuccessful.

“Surrogacy Only” with Vitrified Embryos

A Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle is the process when the couple or single parent uses embryos frozen from a previous IVF cycle in a new cycle. Intending couples who have their sperm and eggs cryopreserved for the future may prefer to use them. Such cycles are more financially affordable than fresh IVF cycles; thus, some intending couples create embryos, vitrify them, ship them to the UK, and use them in gestational surrogacy arrangements.

Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) with medication costs £2,600–£3,900, and routinely does not include embryo transportation process expenses, legal fees, pre–treatment tests, genetic testing, mock embryo transfer, covering only initial consult, basic FET medication, embryo thawing, monitoring scans, expert clinical advice, fertility clinic fees, frozen embryo transfer procedure, luteal support medication, pregnancy test, early pregnancy scan, and follow up consultation.

Any intended parent, before initiating the cycle with vitrified embryos, should budget an additional £5,525 minimum to cover the pre–treatment medical part of the process: 

  • Initial consultation for IPs: £275–£300 
  • Pre–consultation tests if needed (ultrasound scan/semen analysis): £200 / £175 
  • Intended father screening (virology, gonorrhea, syphilis, blood group, cystic fibrosis, chromosome karyotype, hemoglobinopathy, sperm culture and sensitivity testing): £1,675–£1,975
  • Intended Mother screening (AMH, syphilis, virology, chlamydia, gonorrhea, blood group, full blood count, chromosome karyotype, cystic fibrosis, hemoglobinopathy): £1,625–£1,975
  • Surrogate pre–consultation saline scan: £400–£500
  • Surrogate initial consultation for the surrogate: £275–£300 
  • Surrogate screening (HIV/HBsAg/HBcAb/hepatitis C), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, CMV (IgG+IgM), full blood count, blood group, rubella, thyroid function, HTLV, hemoglobinopathy): £900–£1,119.

Additionally, it is suggested to consider legal advice fees, fees associated with additional tests and consultations, prenatal care, medications, emergency care, medical care in case of incidentals and other costs.


Finding a Surrogate in the UK

In the UK, advertising that you are seeking a surrogate, willing to be a surrogate, or acting as a facilitator (except for non–profit organizations) is a criminal offense. This regulation necessitates that British and foreign intended parents pursuing surrogacy in the UK directly connect with authorized UK fertility clinics and organizations.

Intended Parent Starting Your Surrogacy Journey in the UK? 

Although there are many legal hurdles involved in UK surrogacy arrangements, and this article outlined key details about UK surrogacy regulations, the process, and potential challenges for British couples and single intended parents wishing to start the process in their home country, it remains a viable option. However, due to the complexities of the legal landscape, consulting a solicitor specializing in surrogacy law is vital. They can provide up–to–date information about surrogacy arrangements, the process, and the legal implications, offering invaluable guidance throughout the surrogacy journey.


1. Department of Health & Social Care: Guidance: Having a child through surrogacy

2. Department of Health & Social Care: Guidance: The surrogacy pathway: surrogacy and the legal process for intended parents and surrogates in England and Wales (Updated 25 April 2024)

3. Department of Health & Social Care: Guidance: Care in surrogacy: guidance for the care of surrogates and intended parents in surrogate births in England and Wales (Updated 25 April 2024)

4. Surrogacy: legal rights of parents and surrogates

5. Surrogacy: legal rights of parents and surrogates: Become the child’s legal parent

6. Legal rights for egg and sperm donors

7. Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority: Donating your sperm

8. Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority: FAQs for donors, donor–conceived people and their parents

9. Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority: Importing and exporting sperm, eggs and embryos

10. Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority: Rules around releasing donor information

11. FACULDADE DE DIREITO, UNIVERSIDADE NOVA DE LISBOA. Surrogacy in Portugal vs. UK: A legal perspective: The before, the now and the possible after

12. Surrogacy arrangements act 1985

13. Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008

14. Surrogacy: His Majesty’s Passport Office guidance on dealing with applications involving
surrogacy (a type of assisted reproduction)

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