How long does surrogacy take?

Surrogacy can be a long process and it is important to be realistic and take the time you need at each stage.

As a general rule, you can expect a surrogacy journey to take at least 18-36 months, but it could take much longer depending on the surrogacy destination you choose and how your personal journey progresses.

If you are considering surrogacy in the USA, find out more about how a US surrogacy journey works (process and timescales).

Creating embryos for gestational surrogacy


If you are conceiving through gestational surrogacy, creating your embryos is usually the first step (which you can do in tandem with starting the search for a surrogate).  It is important for you to decide which surrogacy path you are following, since it is usually most practical to create your embryos in the country where your surrogate will be based.


Finding a match with your surrogate


If you are looking for a match with a surrogate in the UK, the timescale is impossible to predict.  There is a shortage of UK surrogates and the process is uncertain – you may find the right match very quickly, it may take a long time or it might never happen. Find out more about surrogacy in the UK 

One of the reasons so many intended parents choose to go overseas is that matching is more predictable because you can engage a professional agency to match you with a surrogate, and they will give you an expected timeframe for doing so.  The timescales for match vary considerably, both between different international surrogacy destinations and within them.  Find out more about where in the world surrogacy is allowed


Your surrogacy agreement


In the UK, surrogacy agreements are not legally binding, although help set a strong foundation to your arrangement.  If you match with a UK surrogate independently, or via an organisation that does not match you one to one, you will need to spend time getting to know each other and building your relationship in order to feel confident with your match and that you have worked through everything before you proceed with treatment. Some UK surrogacy organisations set a minimum ‘getting to know you’ period to give you sufficient time to do this.  If you work with a surrogacy agency which matches one to one much of this work will have been done for you, so you may find it quicker and easier to put your surrogacy agreement in place. 

Most international surrogacy arrangements involve putting in place a legally-recognised surrogacy agreement, which enables you to be recognised as your child’s legal parents immediately in the country where your child is born. The agreement is often an important legal document, and it is sensible to seek legal advice in the relevant country before putting this in place.    


Getting pregnant


Once you have reached your agreement with your surrogate, you can start the process of trying to conceive. If you are conceiving through gestational surrogacy, this will involve transferring an embryo to your surrogate.  If you are conceiving through traditional surrogacy (which generally only applies to UK surrogacy arrangements), then you can start the process of monitoring fertility and inseminating each month, or work with your fertility clinic. 

Conception is not an exact science and it may not work first time, or may not be successful at all.  It is sensible for most parents to plan for at least 2-3 cycles of IVF treatment to achieve a pregnancy (each cycle taking at least 6-7 weeks). 




A successful pregnancy of course takes around 9 months, but some babies arrive early or late, and sadly some pregnancies end in miscarriages or do not proceed to full term.  It is important to be prepared for bumps in the road, to think about whether to try again, and to look after yourselves and each other if things do not go to plan. 


Birth and legal process


You will take immediate care of your baby when he or she is born.  However, you will need to apply for a parental order to secure your status as your child’s legal parents in the UK (even if your baby is born overseas and you are named on the birth certificate in the country where your child is born).  Find out more about UK surrogacy law from our sibling organisation NGA Law. 

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