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This travel bulletin has been reviewed and updated. It contains new information regarding changes to surrogacy laws in Thailand. Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Thailand. Australians are advised not to visit Thailand for the purpose of engaging in commercial surrogacy arrangements.

International Surrogacy

This travel bulletin provides information for Australians planning to travel overseas for the purpose of surrogacy.

International surrogacy is a complex and evolving area which raises significant legal and social considerations. Surrogacy is poorly regulated in many countries, which gives rise to a range of concerns for the welfare of the parties involved. Concerns include both the potential exploitation of women and differing approaches among countries to the legal rights of children who are born as a result of surrogacy.

We strongly caution Australians to consider all legal and other risks involved in pursuing international surrogacy, and to seek independent legal advice on Australian and foreign laws. You should be aware that the regulatory environment in a host country may change without warning. The absence of rules and regulations governing surrogacy in some countries should not be seen as condoning commercial surrogacy. The risks of entering into such arrangements in less regulated markets are high.

Australians entering into surrogacy arrangements overseas should be familiar with the entry and exit requirements for respective countries, including visas for commissioning parents and infants, to ensure full compliance. The Australian Government cannot intervene in visa matters.

Surrogacy arrangements occur legally in a number of countries. Highlighted below are countries in which surrogacy is not legal or where specific rules or requirements governing overseas arrangements surrogacy are in place.

The following websites provide an overview of the legal issues affecting Australians considering overseas surrogacy arrangements:

India

On 4 November 2015, the Government of India issued advice confirming surrogacy was no longer available to foreigners. With immediate effect visas and permission issued by Indian consulates or Foreigners Regional Registration Offices (FRRO) will not be available to foreign nationals seeking to visit India for the purpose of commissioning surrogacy.

For those Australian parents who have entered into surrogacy arrangements in India prior to 4 November and who are seeking to travel to India to collect their children, permission must be granted by the FRRO/Foreigners Registration Office (FRO). Those who are seeking to complete a medical process started before 4 November will need to seek permission from the Indian State Health authorities. Permission will be granted on a case by case basis.

Applicants seeking further advice about changes to surrogacy in India or visa requirements are encouraged to contact Indian Consulates in Australia.

The Australian Government cannot intervene in visa matters, or in applications to the FRRO/FRO or India’s State Health Authorities.

While in India, Australians are subject to the local laws of India and we strongly advise against any attempt to circumvent the requirement to obtain an exit permit to remove children from India. Visa guidelines for foreign nationals intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy are strictly enforced. We strongly recommend that Australians comply fully with India's visa regulations. Failing to do so risks Australian parents being unable to travel to India to collect their children.

Australians with children currently in gestation are encouraged to contact the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) office at Australia's High Commission in New Delhi (+91 11 4122 1000 or Citizenship.NewDelhi@dfat.gov.au) to discuss options under Australian migration and citizenship legislation.

See also our travel advice for India.

Thailand

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in Thailand. Australians are advised not to visit Thailand for the purpose of engaging in commercial surrogacy arrangements.

See also our travel advice for Thailand.

Nepal

On 28 October 2015, the Nepal Government approved the issue of exit visas for children born through surrogacy arrangements in Nepal, which had been delayed following a decision on 25 August 2015 by the Supreme Court of Nepal to immediately halt commercial surrogacy services in Nepal. The exit visa approval applies only to children conceived on or before 25 August 2015. We understand however that surrogate children of Nepali surrogate mothers may have to await a full decision by the Supreme Court. While in Nepal, Australians are subject to the local laws of Nepal and we strongly advise against any attempt to circumvent the requirement to obtain an exit permit to remove children from Nepal.

The Australian Government strongly recommends that commissioning parents do not consider surrogacy in Nepal. Australians should seek independent legal advice regarding these matters.

Australians who had children commissioned prior to 25 August 2015 are encouraged to contact the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) office at Australia's High Commission in New Delhi (+91 11 4122 1000 or Citizenship.NewDelhi@dfat.gov.au) to discuss options under Australian migration and citizenship legislation for children who are in gestation.

Australian with surrogate children in gestation should be aware that there has recently been a very high prevalence of premature babies born through surrogacy arrangements in Nepal. Many of these babies are having to spend considerable time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and surrogate parents are liable to pay significant sums of money over and above what has been paid for the initial surrogacy contract. There has also been issues obtaining Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), a supplement for premature babies. Some Australian surrogate parents have been importing their own TPN from Australia for provision to their newborns. Consideration should be given to these issues by intended parents travelling to Nepal for surrogacy.

See also our travel advice for Nepal.

Cambodia

In November 2014, Cambodian authorities advised the Australian Government that the act of commercial surrogacy, or commissioning commercial surrogacy, was illegal in Cambodia with penalties including imprisonment and fines. Australians are advised not to visit Cambodia for the purpose of engaging in commercial surrogacy arrangements. Those considering commercial surrogacy in Cambodia should seek independent legal advice. While in Cambodia, Australians are subject to the local laws of Cambodia and should not rely on assurances from commercial clinics or other agencies suggesting there are ways to circumvent or influence local laws.

See also our travel advice for Cambodia.