Surrogacy in Thailand: Legislation, Costs and Debate

By Babygest Staff
Last Update: 10/17/2019

Until 2015, Thailand was among the most demanded country to have a surrogacy child. Many agencies offered, at very competitive prices, the services of Thai pregnant women to IPs coming from all over the world.

In February 2015, after a debate over various scandals, the Kingdom of Thailand amended its legislation to restrict the conditions of access to this assisted reproductive treatment. Currently, surrogacy is prohibited for foreigners in this country.

Surrogacy situation in Thailand

Before 2015, there was no legal regulation of surrogacy in Thailand. This legal vacuum was exploited by specialized agencies and clinics to attract people who needed gestational surrogacy to become parents.

According to the Medical Council of Thailand, there were more than 100 private clinics specialized in assisted reproduction, which also offered the possibility of using a surrogate.

The entry of the future parents into Thailand was uncomplicated, as no special visa was required. Surrogacy agreements were also simple to carry out.

Another factor that made Thailand a star destination for foreigen IPs was that collaboration with foreign embassy in Bangkok was much simpler than with the consulate in Mumbai or Delhi (India).

For these reasons, Thailand was one of the most requested destinations for homosexual couples until the law amendment.

However, due to the sum of several scandals surrounding this procedure, the military regime of the Kingdom of Thailand promised to review the laws in this regard, or rather, the absence of laws in this regard.

Since then, the law expressly prohibits the surrogacy treatments for foreigners, highlighting as the main cause the global business and human rights violations that had been generated around this assisted reproduction technique.

Surrogacy Act of 2015

On 19 February 2015, the Thai Parliament voted and approved a legal text to regulate surrogacy on its territory. The text placed strong restrictions on the previous situation.

Since it came into effect on July 30, 2015, the law has set access conditions that can be summarized in the following points:

  • Only heterosexual couples can perform the treatment.
  • The couple must be married a minimum of 3 years.
  • At least one of the members of the marriage must be of Thai nationality.
  • The couple must demonstrate a medical incapacity to gestate.
  • The surrogate can be a relative. If there’s no woman close to the intended parents, the couple may also resort to a unknown volunteer.
  • Commercial surrogacy is not permitted, only the altruistic mode is authorized.

Surrogacy for commercial purposes had already been banned in 1997 by the Medical Council of Thailand. However, until the adoption of the current law, there was no legal penalty for malpractice.

From 2015, any violation of the new law carries prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to 200,000 Thai Baht (more than 6,000 $).

The law also does not allow the intervention of agencies or promotion or publicity in the process.

The thai surrogate

Under the new legal text, a surrogate may be a relative of one of the two future parents, but it is not mandatory. Indeed, intended parents who demonstrate that no woman in their close circle can gestate their child can turn to a voluntary candidate.

In order to become a surrogate, the Thai candidate must meet the following requirements:

  • Being over 25 years of age
  • Being married
  • Having the husband’s consent
  • Having at least one own child

The surrogate cannot accept any remuneration because the altruistic modality is now the only one allowed in Thailand.

Costs of treatment

The approximate price of surrogacy in Thailand is between $40,000 and $50,000.

As expected, the total cost of treatment depends on the circumstances, for example whether more than one transfer is necessary, whether a multiple pregnancy occurs or whether the child is born by c-section.

Because of all these possible unforeseen events, it is difficult to offer a closed budget and extra money is necessary to cover any unforeseen complications as it will be the intended parents who cover all required medical and legal costs.

To find out more about the necessary financial provision, we invite you to read: What does a full surrogacy budget include?

Low prices and the legal vacuum until 2015 had made Thailand one of the low-cost destinations for surrogacy, especially for same-sex couples. Unless they meet all the legal requirements, foreigners are no longer able to travel to Thailand anymore.

FAQs from users

Who can become parents through surrogacy in Thailand?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

In order to have a child through surrogacy in Thailand, you must be a heterosexual couple who have been married for 3 or more years. At least one of the two partners must be a Thai national. It is also necessary to prove a medical incapacity to gestate. Also, future parents can only go to a voluntary surrogate if no woman close to them can gestate their baby.

With the passing of the 2015 Act, single people and gay or lesbian couples cannot access this reproductive method in Thailand without breaking the law.

What are the conditions for a Thai woman to become a surrogate?

By Zaira Salvador (embryologist).

Not all women are eligible to become a surrogate for a surrogacy process in Thailand. Candidates must meet a number of requirements such as being over 25 years of age, being married with the consent of their husband, and having previously had at least one child of their own.

How did the debate over surrogacy originate in Thailand?

By Natalia Álvarez (project manager).

Several scandals triggered an international debate that accelerated legal reform in Thailand in order to prevent the recurrence of such cases, which endangered the human rights of surrogates and children.

The most famous case was that of a baby with Down syndrome, Gammy, whose story revolutionised the press and social networks during the summer of 2014. An Australian couple had hired a Thai surrogate, Pattaramon Chanbua, through an agency. According to the surrogate's version, she was informed after 7 months of pregnancy that one of the two babies she was pregnant had Down syndrome. She refused to abort, both because of her advanced gestation stage and because of her Buddhist beliefs. After the birth of the twins, the intended parent couple took the girl, Pipah, to Australia, but abandoned the boy in poor health. The surrogate then took charge of the child.

Another controversial case was that of a wealthy young Japanese man whose project consisted of generating as many babies as possible. According to the media, he managed to have more than thirty before he was discovered. Many of those babies had been born in Thailand to different surrogates.

Suggested for you

Not all countries have the same legislation on surrogacy. You can get a general idea of the international situation of surrogacy by clicking on the following link: International surrogacy.

If you consider surrogacy outside the U.S., we recommend you the following post: Possible destination for U.S. intended parents. You don’t know how to chose a country? click here: How to choose a country for surrogacy.

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