Surrogacy – costs and countries
Surrogacy is one of a number of assisted reproductive technologies and the term refers to a specific process to realise a pregnancy where it would be ordinarily medically impossible to achieve. A surrogacy journey is a pragmatic option for many including those women who are incapable of completing a pregnancy; those where pregnancy would pose a health risk; single men and male couples.
Like all fertility treatments surrogacy can involve complicated circumstances and factors; if compensation is involved it can be expensive and understanding any surrogacy agreement will necessarily involve instructing an attorney or a law firm which will attract attorney fees. Costs of surrogacy can, therefore, mount in certain situations.
The cost of surrogacy is dependent upon the country in which you seek a surrogate pregnancy. As you will see in this article, there are a number of countries around the world where only ‘reasonable expenses’ incurred by the surrogate may be payable. In this situation, an egg donor and/or the surrogate (carrier) are considered to be acting in an altruistic manner.
In other countries, so-called commercial surrogacy is permitted under specific laws. Under this arrangement, an egg donor and/or surrogate can be compensated at a rate greater than that would be payable for medical expenses. The surrogacy cost will consequently be higher than in an altruistic surrogacy journey.
The cost of surrogacy involving an altruistic arrangement will depend on a number of factors including:
- the country in which the surrogacy journey;
- the cost of medical intervention or medication;
- any insurance policy;
- other legitimate and reasonable expenses such as compensating the surrogate for taking time out of employment, travel and/or out of pocket expenses incurred.
Whilst we will refer to altruistic surrogacy when considering different countries in this article, we will be considering the costs of surrogacy in relation to commercial surrogacy. An analysis of the delivery and availability of such treatments which involve surrogacy fees, agency fees, insurance coverage will demonstrate the vast differences in cost between countries as we shall see as we look at a number of countries in which a surrogacy journey is offered.
Why do surrogacy prices vary so much and what is included?
There are many variables involved in the establishment of surrogacy prices and programs are subject to country laws, legal considerations, and treatment availability. The screening process varies between countries and payments to any donor, surrogate, agency, and clinic need to be factored in when calculating the cost of any treatment.
So, why does surrogacy cost so much?
Well, there are numerous considerations which need to be addressed at different stages of the process and we highlight some of these below which relate to gestational surrogacy which is the most common model. Here the surrogate carrier is not biologically related to the child she carries.
If your surrogacy journey involves a third-party agency, they will charge for any screening of, and/or advertising and recruiting donors or surrogate mothers. Working with an agency is not compulsory but for any intended parents, who do not use the services provided by an experienced agency, the surrogacy process can be an onerous one.
An agency fee is composed of various elements but one of the costliest of these is the ability of the agency to advertise for a surrogate. An agency will have established connections and relationships with prospective donors and surrogates and will undertake any matching between them and the intended parents. This matching service will include checks to ensure compatibility between the intended parents and the donor/surrogate and will include medical and psychological evaluation.
A surrogacy agency will also offer a case management service. This might include counselling and support to all parties as well as practical advice on matters such as insurance policies. The surrogacy process involves a great deal of legal work including the negotiation of contracts to ensure all parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities. The price for surrogacy attorney fees will vary between country due to different laws and legal process therefore it is difficult to establish an average cost – this element of the surrogacy process is complicated, however, and intended parents will not be able to avoid the expenditure associated with the creation of a legally binding surrogacy agreement.
The most significant element of surrogacy prices is that attached to medical expenses which can be substantial. Intended parents are required to pay for these costs which might involve multiple IVF cycles and treatment before pregnancy is achieved together with specific medication. In addition, if donors are required to make embryos this will increase the price for surrogacy.
Finally, if the surrogacy journey is founded on a commercial basis intended parents will also be responsible for paying compensation to the surrogate. These expenses can be significant and will depend on which country the treatment takes place; the specific policy of the surrogacy agency (if one is involved) and the personal circumstances of the surrogate.
Intended parents will usually be responsible for paying base compensation in addition to a further allowance which is designed to cover costs such as the surrogate’s inability to work, maternity attire, additional expenses, and a further payment if the surrogate is carrying multiples.
Calculating the costs of surrogacy is, therefore, complicated and involves many variables. If you are considering a surrogacy journey it is advisable that you talk to a range of clinic providers, surrogacy agencies and where available, independent, patient support bodies.
Where possible, attempt to establish a fixed cost and ask about the elements that might involve additional costs. The surrogacy process can be expensive, and you do not want to be faced with unexpected costs on top of what is already a substantial investment.
Depending on your location and its legal standpoint on surrogacy you may want to consider travelling for surrogacy treatment. The vast majority of countries around the world prohibit paid for, or commercial surrogacy and there will be agencies in each of these that will be able to advise on any altruistic options. In countries that do offer commercial surrogacy there is a big difference in surrogacy prices. For instance, the cost of surrogacy in the U.S. or Canada can be twice as much as the cost of surrogacy in Ukraine. As we shall see, however, cost should not always be the main driver for your decision to visit a specific country for surrogacy treatment. Considerations around the support provided, the legal, economic, and social stability of a country, the way that donors and surrogates are cared for and compensated and the ease of returning to your country of residence with a new baby should be factored in. We will now take a look at what international surrogacy options are available in a select number of countries. For a full list of laws relevant to surrogacy visit Wikipedia page.
Surrogacy costs in USA
Costs of surrogacy in the U.S. are the highest in the world, ranging anywhere between $100,000–$200,000 which would include medical, legal, and agency costs. Within this figure a typical compensation fee for the surrogate would account for roughly 50% of the overall surrogacy cost. The higher cost for surrogacy is partly caused by the average cost of living in the country and the fees commanded by specialist surrogacy agencies. It should be noted, however, that the established agencies come with extensive experience and surrogate networks and provide comprehensive support to intended parents, the surrogate, and any donor.
Costs of surrogacy in UK
Surrogacy is recognized as legal in the U.K. but any surrogacy agreement you make is not enforceable in law even if you have made or received expenses. You can not compensate a surrogate like in the U.S., but you can offer to pay reasonable expenses; the definition of ‘reasonable’ is considered by the British courts on an individual basis. Matching surrogates with intended parents seeking a baby in the U.K. is managed by not-for-profit agencies and therefore costs are kept to a minimum and include the necessary expenses incurred by the surrogate, medication and treatment costs charged by a private fertility provider.
It has been estimated that the cost of surrogacy in UK is between £50,000 – £60,000 which includes all medical, legal and administrative expenditure.
Cost of surrogacy in Spain
Surrogacy in Spain is not legally permitted therefore the only option available for intended parents is to consider travelling to another country. Individuals and couples, however, can start the treatment process in Spain with a private clinic and arrange for their gametes to be transferred to the country in which the surrogacy process will commence. The cost of surrogacy, therefore, will depend on the destination country and whether treatment is started in Spain.
Cost of surrogacy in Ukraine
Surrogacy for married heterosexual couples has been legal in Ukraine since 1997. Surrogacy prices average £30,000 – £60,000 which include all legal and medical costs as well as compensation for the surrogate. The surrogacy journey can be arranged via a treatment provider directly or via one of a number of Ukraine based surrogacy agencies.
Cost for surrogacy in India
Between 2000 and 2018 India was a very popular destination for international surrogacy and costs were very low compared to countries like the U.S. and Canada. However, legislation in the form of the 2016 and 2019 Surrogacy Bill prohibits international surrogacy and only will allow altruistic surrogacy for infertile Indian residents.
Cost of surrogacy in Georgia
Surrogacy for heterosexual couples is legal in Georgia. Surrogacy prices average £30,000 – £60,000 which include all legal and medical costs as well as compensation for the surrogate. The surrogacy journey can be arranged via a treatment provider directly or via one of a number of Georgian based surrogacy agencies.
Cost of surrogacy in Canada
In terms of the cost of surrogacy, Canada sits between the UK and the US. Surrogacy in Canada currently costs between £80,000 – £100,000 which can include medical and legal fees, surrogate compensation, agency fees and insurance.
Surrogacy – FAQs
Is surrogacy cost tax deductible?
Strictly speaking, no, but you would need to consult a tax specialist for an answer in your specific case. There have been occasions where tax relief has been granted against payments made to a surrogate for expenses when the woman can prove that she is physically incapable of pregnancy and having a baby, however.
Why does surrogacy cost so much?
As we discovered in this article, the surrogacy process is a complicated one and involves the participation of a number of different professionals; sophisticated medical treatment and can be a time-intensive activity. Due to the sensitivities and legal rights/obligations created by the act of surrogacy it is recommended you consult appropriate professionals and bodies to fully understand what is involved and the likely costs.
What is surrogacy cost for a gay couple?
The variable costs of a surrogacy journey for a same-sex couples would be the same as those for a heterosexual couples. The only difference in terms of the treatment process would be the involvement of a sperm or egg donor and the costs associated with identifying an appropriate person and obtaining gametes.
What is surrogacy cost without an agency?
Charges made by surrogacy agencies vary dependent upon the services offered to intended parents. There will be situations where the assistance of an agency will not be required but invariably intended parents who are seeking international surrogacy will have to rely on an agency’s experience and knowledge of working in a particular country. The agency’s comprehensive support can involve finding, matching, and screening surrogates/donors; liaising with treatment providers; ongoing practical and emotional support and legal aid.
What is cheaper – surrogacy or adoption?
Due to the fact that surrogacy involves the expense of treatment and compensation for the surrogate adoption is a cheaper option. Those interested in international adoption will invariably have to go through a registered third-party agency with the exception of a small number of countries including Ukraine. As a general rule of thumb, international adoption costs are roughly half the costs of surrogacy. The cheapest adoption option is domestic adoption where no payment is necessary in certain countries.