A surrogate – or a gestational carrier – is someone who carries and gives birth to a baby for another person. Here we’ll explore how surrogacy works and where to find a surrogate. 

How does surrogacy work?

Surrogacy involves IVF treatment with eggs and sperm – either your own or donor – and a surrogate in a licensed fertility clinic. Some people choose to use a friend or family member as a surrogate, but if that isn’t an option, you may need to find one through an independent agency, as UK fertility clinics aren’t allowed to find one for you. Commercial surrogacy is not permitted in the UK, which can make finding surrogates more challenging. 

How much does it cost to have a surrogate?

Although it is illegal to pay for a surrogate in the UK, they can be reimbursed for reasonable expenses such as maternity clothes, travel expenses and loss of earnings due to pregnancy. The total cost can vary and it can be much higher if you explore surrogacy in a country where surrogates are allowed to be paid. According to a report by Surrogacy UK, surrogates typically receive £10,000–£15,000, although this will depend on your circumstances. In addition, you’ll also need to pay your clinic for the fertility treatment and costs for this vary depending on what treatments you will need. Surrogacy is not funded by the NHS. 

What legal considerations are there?

Surrogacy can come with a lot of complex legal issues, and you should seek independent legal advice when considering this treatment. In the UK, the surrogate is the legal mother of the child at birth – even if the eggs and sperm used are yours or donated (i.e. she’s not genetically related to the child). Legal parenthood can be transferred from the surrogate by parental order after the baby is born in order for you to become the legal parent, after which the surrogate will have no further rights or obligations to the child. 

What personal implications might there be?

When having treatment with a surrogate it’s important to have a surrogacy agreement in place and plan for how things will work around treatment. This document, however, is not legally binding. You may want to consider how much contact you’ll have with the surrogate during and after treatment, while the surrogate is pregnant and even after the birth of your baby. It can also be helpful to agree on how something unexpected during pregnancy or the birth would be managed. 

Additional information

There are four main surrogacy organisations in the UK and you can find them on the government’s surrogacy pathway. Some IVF clinics may also be able to help you connect with surrogacy agencies or alternatively, you can use a separate service to help guide you through the process.