Surrogacy in the United Kingdom of Great Britain

Commercial surrogacy arrangements are not legal in the United Kingdom. Such arrangements were prohibited by the Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985, making it is illegal to pay more than expenses for a surrogacy. Regardless of contractual or financial consideration for expenses, surrogacy arrangements are not legally enforceable within the United Kingdom. A surrogate mother still maintains the legal right of determination for the child, even if they are genetically unrelated. Unless a parental order or adoption order is made the surrogate mother remains the legal mother of the child.

The UK's approach makes it very difficult for the intending parents to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements. For example, it is unlawful for intending parents to advertise for a surrogate, or for a woman to advertise a willingness to become a surrogate. The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 s.2(1) prevents a third party (though not a surrogate or intending parents) from initiating or taking part in negotiations, offering or agreeing to negotiate, or compiling any information with a view to its use in making, or negotiating the making of, surrogacy arrangements.

Since the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 1990 came into force, intending parents have been able to acquire legal parenthood of their child to the exclusion of the surrogate (and, if applicable, her husband) by a parental order. The criteria for a parental order are now contained in section 54 of the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008. A parental order will usually be granted by the English courts, provided that the criteria set out in section 54 are met and it is in the child's best interests to make the order. Although the Act provides that no more than 'reasonable expenses' should be paid to the surrogate, the English courts have retrospectively approved surrogacy payments made overseas which go beyond reasonable expenses. In any case, the couple must provide the English court with detailed documentation of all payments made to the surrogate mother.