Law Commissions: no significant change for international surrogacy

The Law Commissions have recommended only minimal changes to existing UK law for families who go abroad for surrogacy

Parental orders to remain the legal mechanism for resolving parenthood


The Law Commissions’ final recommendations have stepped away from substantive reform for international surrogacy.

Citing ethical concerns, the Law Commissions have proposed no automatic UK recognition for parents who conceive through international surrogacy, with a continuing requirement for them to apply to the UK family court for a UK parental order after the birth.

Only minor changes to the existing post-birth parental order system have been recommended, the most significant change being that parents who are habitually resident but not domiciled in the UK will be able to apply. The other criteria, and the timing of the court process, will remain virtually unchanged, and parents who conceive with donor eggs and sperm will remain excluded.

Our view on the recommendations

We do not agree that the current parental order system should be retained for international surrogacy 

More than half the children granted UK parental orders are now born outside the UK, and the existing law is failing them.  The mismatch between UK law on parenthood and the law in the country where they are born means many are born without legal parents anywhere in the world.

The existing UK legal process (which takes 6-12 months after the birth) needs to be reformed, either to allow overseas surrogacy arrangements to be automatically recognised or to enable the UK court to resolve parentage before children are born.

Minor changes to British nationality law and new guidance on the immigration rules


The Law Commissions have recommeded no major changes to the existing rules on nationality and immigration (other than the surrogate’s husband not being treated as the father for nationality purposes and the existing visa system being formalised within the Immigration Rules).

They have called for ‘clearer guidance’ on the existing rules.


Our view on the recommendations

The recommendations do not adequately safeguard children’s welfare

We regularly work with families who face delays of many months bringing home newborn babies born through surrogacy overseas, separated from the family support and medical care they need.  Many of those children are born stateless.

It is a child welfare imperative for UK law to recognise children born to British parents as British themselves from birth and to issue UK passports promptly for them.

Clearer guidance is not a sufficient solution to remedy the underlying legal difficulties.

Other Law Commission proposals

New regulation for UK surrogacy

The Law Commissions have recommended a new regulated framework to support UK surrogacy

Learn more

Tightening up the rules on what UK surrogates are paid

The Law Commissions have proposed new categories of permitted payments, and a new approach to itemising costs

Learn more

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