Laws related to international commercial surrogacy differ from one country to the next — and, within countries, from one state to another.

As governments respond to issues raised by legal or illegal operations within their borders and address the swift movement of the practice across borders, this section helps readers track key elements of laws in major international commercial surrogacy “hubs.” This refers to countries or regions that are – or positioned to become important – sources of gestational mothers and the related services that make international commercial surrogacy possible.

Please contact us with updates or corrections. The practice of international commercial surrogacy is rapidly changing, as are the laws that attempt to regulate it. We make every effort to learn from readers and keep them accurately informed on current developments.

For more information on the different types of surrogacy referenced below, please view the Definitions section.


CAMBODIA | more information
– Commercial surrogacy: illegal

  • Commercial surrogacy banned by government edict sent to all fertility clinics.
    • Temporary guidelines in place to allow some Australian intended parents to legally take their children out of the country — only after intended parents prove a biological link to their child and obtain approval from their gestational mother.

INDIA | more information
– Commercial surrogacy: illegal
– Altruistic surrogacy: legal

  • Commercial surrogacy banned as per the 2016 Surrogacy Regulation Bill approved by the Indian Union Cabinet.
  • Altruistic surrogacy is available only to Indian, infertile, heterosexual couples.
    • Intended parents must be married for at least five years.
    • Arrangements only permissible between intended parents and “relatives.”
    • No payment allowed to gestational mothers beyond reimbursement for medical expenses.

KENYA
– No formal law: commercial surrogacy “permissible”

  • Commercial surrogacy takes place within a legal vacuum.
  • Some protective laws are in place: For example, intended parents are not legal parents until birth certificates are amended by court order, and children can only be “adopted” by intended parents pending consent from gestational mothers.

LAOS | more information
– No formal law: commercial surrogacy “permissible”

  • Set to become a “hub” after recent restrictions in Cambodia.

MALAYSIA | more information
– No formal law: commercial surrogacy “permissible”

  • Commercial surrogacy takes place within a legal vacuum; guidelines proposed in 2006 by the Malaysia Medical Council are reportedly under review.
  • The National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs issued a fatwa in 2008 prohibiting surrogacy for Muslims. It is up to individual Malaysian states to enforce such religious declarations, and restrictions do not apply to followers of other faiths.

MEXICO / STATE OF TABASCO | more information
– Commercial surrogacy: illegal

  • Commercial surrogacy for foreign Intended parents banned as of January 2016.
  • Intended parents must be heterosexual, Mexican nationals.

NEPAL | more information
– Commercial surrogacy: illegal

  • Commercial surrogacy banned as of September 2015.

NIGERIA
– No formal policy: commercial surrogacy “permissible”

  • Commercial surrogacy takes place within a legal vacuum.
  • “Baby farms” are a documented problem, and participating agencies are being shut down.

RUSSIA
– Commercial surrogacy: legal

  • Surrogacy only available to heterosexual married couples or single women with infertility.
  • No traditional surrogacy.
  • Gestational mothers need spousal written consent, if married.

THAILAND | more information
–  Commercial surrogacy: illegal
– Altruistic surrogacy:
 legal

  • Commercial surrogacy banned as per the 2015 ART Act.
  • Altruistic surrogacy available only to Thai, heterosexual couples married for three years or more (and also allowed if one spouse in a marriage is a Thai national).
    • Arrangements only permissible between intended parents and “blood relatives” (except parents and children).
    • Intended parents with no “blood relatives” able to serve as a gestational mother can request another person to carry a child, provided this gestational mother is aged between 20 and 40 years and already a mother.
    • Punishment for anyone, including go-betweens, caught hiring gestational mothers, may include prison.

UKRAINE
– Commercial surrogacy: legal

  • Surrogacy only available to heterosexual, married couples.
  • Intended parents receive full custody at the time of conception.
  • Intended parents listed on the birth certificate.
  • The law does not require a court-ordered adoption process.

VIETNAM | more information
– Altruistic surrogacy: legal

  • Amended law on marriage and family has allowed altruistic surrogacy since 2015.
  • Intended parents must be childless and prove they are unable to get pregnant (even with IVF).
  • Arrangements only permissible between intended parents and “relatives.”
  • Eligible intended parents and gestational mothers required to register with a government agency, and only three hospitals – in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hue – are allowed to deal with surrogacy.
  • Gestational mothers can only carry a child once, with spousal written consent, if married.
  • No payment allowed to gestational mothers beyond reimbursement for medical expenses.
  • Only gestational surrogacy covered; the law does not consider traditional surrogacy.

Top photo: Tori Rector (cc)