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Surrogacy and the law in the UK
  1. Bianca Olaye-Felix1,
  2. Deborah Emma Allen2,
  3. Neil H Metcalfe3,4
  1. 1Department of Medicine, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford, UK
  2. 2Medicine, Hull York Medical School, York, North Yorkshire, UK
  3. 3Quality and Evidence Personal Excellence Pathway Tutor, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  4. 4General Practitioner, York, UK
  1. Correspondence to Deborah Emma Allen, Medicine, Hull York Medical School, York, North Yorkshire, UK; debbieemma.allen{at}


Surrogacy is a method of assisted reproduction in which a woman bears a child on behalf of a couple or individual with the intention of handing over care of the child to the intending parent(s) at or soon after birth. The law surrounding surrogacy is complex for healthcare professionals, surrogates and intending parent(s) to navigate. This review article summarises the laws and potential legal complications of surrogacy in the UK.

While altruistic surrogacy is permitted, commercial surrogacy is outlawed in this country. Both traditional and gestational surrogacy may be performed and UK law now also permits surrogacy for same sex couples, unmarried couples and single individuals as intending parent(s). Legal parenthood of the child is transferred from the surrogate to the intending parent(s) via application for a parental order between 6 weeks and 6 months after birth. Legal complications include time restrictions for parental order applications and breaches of reasonable payments to surrogates.

  • law
  • subfertility
  • gynaecology
  • obstetrics
  • ethics
  • reproductive medicine

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  • Contributors BO-F conducted the original research into this topic as the first author and is the guarantor for this manuscript. DEA is the second author, who edited and critically appraised the research. NHM supervised this research.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.