Surrogacy law: birth registration and parental orders after UK surrogacy

Under UK law a surrogate is initially the legal mother of the baby she gives birth to.  If she is married, her husband, wife or civil partner is the other legal parent of the child at birth. 

If the surrogate is not married (or in rare cases where her spouse does not consent to the conception), the biological father will usually be the child’s legal father from birth.  However, if conception takes place at a UK fertility clinic it is possible to nominate the other intended parent to be the second legal parent instead of the biological father, although the paperwork has to be set up correctly before embryo transfer to do this.

Whoever the legal parents are initially, this is only temporary and parenthood will be transferred to the intended parent/s once the family court makes a parental order.

Birth registration for UK surrogacy


The surrogate is responsible for registering the birth and she will be registered on the birth certificate as the mother.  If she is married, her spouse will be registered as the father/second parent.  If she is not married, whichever intended parent is the second legal parent can be registered on the birth certificate with her provided they attend the birth registration and consent. 

The baby can be given the intended parents’ surname regardless of who are registered as the parents.


Parental orders after UK surrogacy


The intended parent/s can apply to the family court for a parental order to transfer parenthood to them.

The court process involves an initial application, an assessment by a social worker from CAFCASS, a written statement filed by the intended parent/s and one or more court hearings in the family court.  The length of the process varies, but will be somewhere between 3 and 12 months (usually less if you are legally represented).

At the end of the process, the court makes an order transferring legal parenthood and the child’s birth certificate is then automatically re-issued to show only the intended parent/s as the legal parent/s.

To obtain a parental order, the intended parent/s must satisfy the family court that they meet the criteria for the making of a parental order and that the making of an order is necessary to safeguard their child’s lifelong welfare.

Our sister organisation NGA Law can help you, offering advice and various different services for legal representation with your parental order application.  There is also free online information about parental order applications and other UK surrogacy law issues on the NGA Law Knowledge Centre. Parents who are working with Brilliant Beginnings have UK legal advice, as well as ongoing legal support, help with specialist wills and support/ representation with the parental order application, as part of our UK Surrogacy Pathway.


More information

UK legal issues for international surrogacy

UK surrogacy agreements

How risky is surrogacy in the UK?