Since 2002, surrogate motherhood was a permitted fertility treatment in India for both residents and non-residents. However, the Law was amended back in 2015, when the Indian Government determined that, in the case of foreign citizens, only heterosexual couples whose country allowed surrogacy had the right to have a baby via surrogacy in India.
From the 21st of November 2016 onwards, when the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 was passed, only Indian married couples with infertility problems were allowed to access altruistic or unpaid surrogacy. In other words, commercial surrogacy is not permitted in India anymore.
The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.
India as a surrogacy destination
During the past decade, and particularly back in 2012, India was considered the surrogacy capital of the world. In fact, according to data published by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the surrogacy “market” rose to about 2.3 thousand million dollars during that period.
Some of the main reasons why non-residentes saw India as the ideal destination country for surrogacy abroad were associated with:
- The price, five times cheaper than in the United States.
- The easy access to the process, as intended parents were deemed the rightful parents straight away after childbirth.
Today, the Indian Law doesn’t allow access for foreign citizens anymore, except in the case of non-residents who are married to each other and provided that their home country allows surrogacy as well. In the case of US citizens, you would be allowed as long as you meet these requirements and your state allows surrogacy.
In other words, the passing of the new law translated into new regulations that banned foreign couples to pursue surrogacy in India. Continue reading to learn everything you should know about these new legal restrictions.
Passing of the new law
Current policies governing surrogacy in India ban surrogacy to non-residents who intend to start a surrogacy arrangement by entering the country as tourists. Now, foreign intended parents must apply for a specific medical VISA to India that is only granted to heterosexual couples who have been married to each other for at least 2 years, along with the following documents:
- An affidavit confirming that commissioning parents will take care of the child or children born as a result of the surrogacy arrangement.
- A legal contract between the commissioning parents and the Indian surrogate.
- Proof that the process has been performed at a licensed clinic.
- A letter confirming that the total compensation to the gestational surrogate has been paid in full, as accorded by contract.
The Indian Government introduced a bill to amend the previous surrogacy law in October 2015 with the purpose of prohibiting surrogacy to foreign citizens in the country, in an attempt to stop the massive incoming of fertility tourists looking for a woman to carry their child. The bill was passed the 21st of November 2016 under the name Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016.
Since 2015, it is a requirement for non-residents to have a letter from their home country’s Embassy confirming that surrogacy is allowed in their home country as well.
Legal implications of new legislation
Simply put, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 allows surrogacy to residents and non-residents as long as they meet these requirements:
- You were born Indian, are a resident in India, or a foreign citizen who is married to an Indian citizen
- You are a married heterosexual couple with fertility issues
- You have been married for at least 5 years
Only altruistic or unpaid surrogacy is allowed. Moreover, the surrogate must be a close family member.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, is totally opposed to commercial surrogacy, especially if it becomes a business based in the exploitation of women. This is the reason why the new law came into force back in 2016.
The ultimate goal of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 is to stop India from becoming the “headquarters” of the global surrogacy market, and to erradicate the so-called Indian baby farms. Other countries in a similar situation, such as Thailand, have made amendments to their surrogacy law in order to stop this phenomenon as well.
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Becoming a surrogate in India
The new law affects the requirements for women willing to become surrogates in India, too. Now, for a woman to be allowed to apply for becoming a surrogate, she must have consent from her husband. In other words, becoming a surrogate depends ultimately on the decision of the male partner.
The following are some basic conditions to become a surrogate in India:
- Aged 35 or less
- At least one own child
- Once the contract is signed, she won’t have the right to stop the pregnancy voluntarily anymore (except under exceptional circumstances)
Moreover, in order to prevent the development of an emotional bond, surrogate and intended parents cannot get to know each other or build a relationship. Traditional surrogacy is not permitted as well.
Indian surrogate mothers typically live near the location of the clinic and are required to get some time off work to focus on taking care of the surrogate pregnancy and their family.
Actually, Indian gestational carriers are paid high sums of money for carrying someone else’s child to term in a country where a large proportion of people are living in poverty. This is the reason why women decide to become surrogates—many get enough money as to sustain their whole family.
This is precisely the reason why the surrogacy law needed an amendment. Now, commercial surrogacy is not permitted anymore, which means that surrogates won’t receive financial benefits for carrying a child for other people. As a matter of fact, she must be a family member.
Cost of surrogacy
The approximate cost of surrogacy in India ranges between $20,000 and $30,000. As one shall see, it is far less expensive than in California (from $120,000) and Utah (from $80,000), to give you some examples from the US. Internationally speaking, it is also cheaper than in countries like Canada, Russia or Ukraine.
Even though gestational carriers in India were paid a reduced part of the total cost (about $5,900-9,400), it was actually considered a high sum in the country, keeping in mind that a third part of the total population lives in poverty. In fact, some women who had been surrogates in the past state that they wouldn’t have been able to sustain their family without this sum.
Those opposed to surrogacy consider that women who decide to become surrogates only because they are in need of income is ethically unacceptable, as it equals exploitation of women.
Further reading: International Surrogacy – Laws & Options for Surrogacy Abroad.
FAQs from users
Is single parent surrogacy legal in India?
No, it isn’t, and the same applies to gay surrogacy. According to the law, only married heterosexual couples have the right to have a baby via surrogacy.
How much does a surrogate mother cost in Indian rupees?
The cost of surrogacy in Indian rupees is about Rs 3,000 per month and Rs 2 lakh after childbirth.
Suggested for you
India is not a recommended destination country for surrogacy overseas, due to the number of risks involved. To learn more about the steps involved in a surrogacy arrangements, read: Parents through Surrogacy Guide – The Process Step by Step.
We have made several references to altruistic and paid surrogacy throughout the article, but what’s the difference between these types of surrogacy? To get more details about them, click here: What Are the Different Types of Surrogacy? – Names & Definition.