Is Surrogacy Legal in Europe?

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (babygest staff).
Last Update: 09/17/2019

Surrogacy is a particularly complicated technique from an ethical and legal point of view. For this reason, several countries in Europe prohibit its use and there are only a few in which it is permitted. In fact, in most parts of the continent there is no specific mention of this technique in the country's existing legislation, so there is a dangerous legal limbo.

In this article we will talk about the destinations in Europe that contemplate this reproductive method. All of them belong to the European continent, but some are not included in the European Union. Therefore, we recommend consulting the conditions required to enter and leave the country.

Where is it allowed?

Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Georgia and the United Kingdom are the only European countries that accept surrogacy as another assisted reproduction technique and have regulations for its legal application.

Cyprus, the Czech Republic and also Ireland take advantage of the legal limbo, i.e. the absence of permission and also of prohibition, to apply the technique. Therefore, they are not considered safe destinations. At Babygest we advise you to go to a destination where there already is an existing regulation, as this way you will avoid serious problems.

Below we detail the legal conditions of each of the European destinations where surrogacy is permitted, as not all of them have the same requirements and limitations:

Russia

The legal guidelines set by the Russian State are as follows:

  • The intended mother must demonstrate a medical incapacity to gestate or to carry the pregnancy to term.
  • It's only allowed for single women and heterosexual couples.
  • The eggs and sperm used may belong to the future parents or, failing that, to a donor.
  • The egg donor will never be the surrogate mother. (Traditional surrogacy is not permitted).
  • The surrogate may receive financial compensation, so commercial subrogation is allowed.
  • The surrogate mother must renounce maternity after childbirth and give her consent so that the future parents can be recognised as legal parents.
  • If the surrogate does not give up motherhood, she can keep the baby.

If you wish detailed information about surrogacy in Russia, click here: Surrogacy in Russia.

Remember that these are conditions required in Russia. US intended parents who are considering going abroad to have a child through surrogacy should consider the guidelines provided by the US Department of State.

Filiation and Civil Registry in surrogate maternity.

Ukraine

Ukraine is a European destination that is growing in popularity in relation to surrogacy. The requirements to be able to carry it out are the following:

  • As in Russia, it is essential that the intended mother demonstrate the medical inability to gestate or carry a pregnancy to term.
  • It's only allowed for heterosexual married couples.
  • At least the intended father, and preferably also the mother, must provide their genetic material.
  • Commercial surrogacy is allowed, so the gestational carrier may receive financial compensation.
  • The surrogate cannot keep the baby, as she has no legal right or obligation to the baby.

Want to know more about Surrogacy in Ukraine? Here is all you need to know: Surrogacy in Ukraine.

As mentioned above, the requirements of the country of origin of the intended parents must be met in addition to those of the foreign country in which the process is to be carried out. Otherwise, problems may arise when returning home with the baby.

Greece

The legislation regulating surrogacy in Greece changed in 2014, and since then the application of the technique is allowed for foreign citizens. Currently the law establishes the following premises:

  • Treatment is allowed for heterosexual couples and single women.
  • A medical certificate proving the future mother’s inability to gestate is required.
  • Financial compensation to the surrogate i.e. commercial gestational surrogacy, is permitted.
  • At least one of the two participants (future parents or surrogate) must be Greek.
  • An authorization from a Greek court is necessary to start the process.

When looking for surrogacy clinics in Greece, Ips must make sure that they will be assigned a Greek lawyer, who will be responsible for preparing the surrogacy agreement and the necessary documents that must be presented at court.

Also, babies born in Greece do no acquire Greek citizenship. Passport and citizenship are based on the intended parent’s citizenship.

If you consider Greece as a destination for surrogacy, this article will provide you with all information necessary: Surrogacy in Greece.

For most would-be parents, surrogacy is the most confusing of all fertility treatments. Transparency is a core value for us when it comes to recommending a clinic or agency for them. You can now use this tool to receive a detailed report that will solve any question you may have, and most importantly, to help you avoid potential frauds.

United Kingdom

Although surrogacy is permitted in this country, the regulations are very strict and, as a result, few people resort to this destination:

  • The surrogacy contract is not legally binding.
  • It is an offence to advertise as a surrogate mother.
  • The surrogate and her husband are recognized as legal parents, even though the Ips have contributed their genetic load.
  • Intended parents have up to 6 months to apply for paternity.
  • It can only be done altruistically, so the surrogate does not receive any financial compensation.
  • This process is permitted for homosexual and heterosexual couples only, so single women and men are excluded from this process.

Enter the following article to find out more about the legal situation in this country: Surrogacy in the UK.

Georgia

In Georgia, surrogacy is legal. The law that regulates this process stipulates the following:

  • Access is granted to heterosexual married couples only.
  • A justification for medical incapacity to gestate or carry the pregnancy to term is required.
  • Both egg and sperm donations are permitted. Regarding this point, we have to point out that at least one of the intended parents has to be genetically related to the child. DNA testing will be required to establish a genetic relationship.
  • Financial compensation to the surrogate i.e. commercial gestational surrogacy, is allowed.
  • The surrogate has neither rights nor obligations over the baby, i.e. she is not the legal mother.

If you want to have a further look into Georgia as a possible destination, we recommend you the following post: How does Surrogacy in Georgia work?

Portugal

In 2017, Law 25/2016 came into force, regulating the application of surrogacy in Portugal and giving access to heterosexual couples and female homosexuals with inability to gestate.

However, one year after approval, the law was brought into the Supreme Court and has been set-aside since. The characteristics established by Portuguese legislation on surrogacy are as follows:

  • Only altruistic surrogacy is allowed, so the surrogate cannot receive any financial compensation for carrying out the pregnancy.
  • Only total or complete surrogacy is allowed, i.e. the surrogate cannot be the egg donor at the same time.
  • At least one of the intended parents will have to contribute the genetic load: the oocytes or the spermatozoa.

Where is it forbidden?

Spain and the Netherlands consider a surrogacy contract to be legally non-binding. In both countries, therefore, the legal mother of the newborn is considered to be the woman giving birth, regardless of who the biological mother is.

Apart from that, in France, surrogacy is considered a criminal offence under criminal law and therefore provides for a prison sentence and a financial fine.

At last, it is important to highlight the case of Hungary, where surrogacy is not allowed. Although in the first version it was mentioned, the current Health Care Law (1997) does not include surrogacy among the assisted reproduction techniques contemplated.

Other European countries where surrogacy is not allowed are Germany, Switzerland, Italy or Austria.

FAQs from users

By Andrea Rodrigo (embryologist).

In some countries of the European continent surrogacy is allowed. These include Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Georgia and the United Kingdom. It is very important to know the particularities of the legislation before choosing a destination, so we from Babygest recommend you to be well-informed before starting the process. In order to do so, we suggest that you consult the sections of this article in which each one of them is discussed thus gaining more information from the specific articles for each countries.

Is there any European country in which homosexual couples could engage a surrogate mother in order to have a child?

By Andrea Rodrigo (embryologist).

The United Kingdom is the only place in Europe to allow homosexual couples to have a child through surrogacy. That being said, it can only be performed altruistically with a non-binding surrogacy contract. Therefore, the majority decides to travel to a foreign country.

Currently, the USA and Canada are the only countries world wide that provide legal security and guarantees with which homosexual couples and single persons are able to become parents through surrogacy.

Suggested for you

In this article we have summarised the legal conditions in European countries where surrogacy is permitted by law. Do you want to know other destinations in the world to go to if you need surrogacy to have a child? Discover them here: Countries where surrogacy is permitted.

On the other hand, we have commented that the conditions under which surrogacy is permitted are not the same in all destinations. Learn more about that in the following article: Surrogacy: What does the law say?

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

References

Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Embryologist specializing in Assisted Procreation, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
Babygest Staff
Editor and translator for the Babygest magazine in English and German. More information about Romina Packan

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