Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

International surrogacy

International Surrogacy is defined as a surrogacy arrangement, regardless of how it is organised, involving an overseas country. This includes: 

  • Surrogacy involving a commercial arrangement i.e. in instances where money is paid to the surrogate mother and/or the medical practitioner and the surrogacy procedure takes place through a designated fertility clinic; and
  • Surrogacy involving a compassionate or altruistic arrangement ie. the surrogate is known to the commissioning parent(s) and an arrangement has been made between both groups without any profit made; and
  • Surrogacy involving the export of gametes by a New Zealand Fertility Clinic for the purposes of commissioning a gestational surrogacy arrangement. 

International surrogacy can be fraught with difficulty, and there are broader considerations that need to be taken into account for an international surrogacy than for a domestic surrogacy.  Overseas regulations on international surrogacy can change without notice, and you should take care to ensure that any decisions you make are based on current information from the country concerned.  You must ensure you comply with the laws and regulations of any country where you are considering commissioning a surrogacy. 

If you are considering international surrogacy you should ensure you are aware of potential risks, particularly if things go wrong.  You are financially responsible for all costs incurred overseas, including for unexpected medical treatment such as neo-natal care in the event of premature births or other health conditions.

We strongly advise New Zealanders considering commissioning a surrogacy overseas to seek independent legal advice, and consult the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), Immigration New Zealand (INZ) before beginning the process. 

It is important to ensure that any child born as a result of a surrogacy arrangement is able to enter and reside permanently in New Zealand if that is the intention. 

New Zealanders are advised not to engage in commercial surrogacy arrangements in the following countries:   

On 30 July 2015, the ‘Protection of Children Born from Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act’, which places tight restrictions on commercial surrogacy in Thailand, came into effect there.  The Act severely limits who may engage in a surrogacy arrangement and imposes sanctions for those that do not comply.  Thailand’s restrictions prohibit foreigners from undertaking surrogacy arrangements in Thailand. 

On 25 August 2015, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued an order to immediately ban foreigners from commissioning commercial surrogacy arrangements in Nepal. The reasonable gestation period for a child conceived before 25 August 2015 has passed, and the Nepali government will not look favourably on any further cases. Whilst international surrogacy service providers may continue to mention Nepal as a possible location, potential parents should not consider Nepal for an IVF/surrogacy process.

On 5 November 2015 the Indian Government banned the issuing of visas to foreigners for the purposes of entering India to commission a surrogacy.  At the same time the Indian government advised all Indian registered IVF and Surrogacy Clinics to cease offering surrogacy services to foreigners and OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) Cardholders.  Currently the Indian Government is considering the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, and if enacted, these bans will become permanent.  

IVF clinics based in Cambodia claim that there are no restrictions on foreigners entering into commercial surrogacy arrangements.  However, on 12 November 2015 the New Zealand government received formal advice from the Government of Cambodia that the practice of commercial surrogacy is prohibited in Cambodia, and parties found to be involved in this will be punished by both imprisonment and fines. 

On 14 December 2015 a law was passed in Mexico, banning surrogacy for foreign couples.  This law came into effect in the State of Tabasco on 19 January 2016.  The law change has effectively prohibited surrogacy in respect of foreign couples throughout Mexico, as Tabasco is the only state that has allowed surrogacy arrangements to date.

We strongly encourage you to read the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki's Information Fact Sheet on International Surrogacy

More comprehensive information is available on the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki website

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