Pros and Cons of Surrogacy in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide

At first glance, surrogacy in Canada can seem intimidating, with many complex medical steps and surrogacy laws varying from country to country. Therefore, understanding the pros and cons is crucial to make an informed decision to protect your interests.

When considering surrogacy, one of the first questions that will pop up is “Where?” Use Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine to find where to set up a surrogacy. You will get a bunch of seemingly exciting options, but are all of them safe and legally secure for you and your family? Unfortunately, the answer is no!

Several countries have legally recognized surrogacy, including the US, Canada, Ukraine, Greece, Portugal, and the UK. However, there are also several unregulated countries where surrogacy laws are evolving, which intended parents should avoid.

Canada is one of the few secure and well-established destinations worldwide to conduct a compassionate surrogacy process with a supportive legal framework in most provinces. To help intended parents learn more about this option, we spoke with Sally Rhoads-Heinrich, the founder of Surrogacy in Canada Online (SCO). SCO is one of the leading surrogacy agencies in Canada and has been assisting intended parents and surrogates with information, referrals, and support since 2001.

The Legality of Surrogacy in Canada: What You Should Know

Yes, surrogacy is legal in Canada. The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is federal legislation that sets out the activities that are permitted and those that are prohibited altogether. You need to know that the AHRA permits surrogacy. Still, prospective parents may only reimburse a surrogate for her reasonable out-of-pocket expenses related to the surrogacy process. Compensation or an offer of compensation to a woman acting as a surrogate is prohibited under law and subject to severe penalty. If a woman has had her own children and wishes to carry a child for another family, becoming a surrogate mother in Canada is a legal and viable option.

Canada’s Surrogacy Laws: Which Provinces to Choose or Avoid

Canadian surrogacy law is federal, so it is the same in every province and territory—it’s legal to do surrogacy. However, Quebec is the only province not recognizing surrogacy contracts; you can do surrogacy in Quebec. However, the courts will not recognize the surrogacy contract if there is a dispute among the parties. There are also differences among the provinces with respect to birth certificates. You must consult a Canadian fertility lawyer about applying for your child’s birth certificate.

Most surrogacy arrangements happen in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia, where intended parents can quickly get birth certificates for their children (which can be important for international intended parents who must apply for a passport to travel home).

What’s The Cost of Surrogacy in Canada?

The cost of surrogacy in Canada typically covers expenses related to the surrogate, including her compensation, legal fees, medical expenses, and other associated costs. Intended parents should also be aware that there may be additional expenses for IVF treatments, medical procedures, and travel costs, which can add to the overall cost of the surrogacy journey.

Intended parents need to have a realistic budget when considering surrogacy. The recommended budget of $80,000 for a gestational surrogacy arrangement may seem high. Still, it is essential to remember that the cost covers many different services and expenses. If you already have frozen embryos, the recommended budget of $60,000 may be more appropriate.

What are the Main Differences between Surrogacy in Canada and the US?

Surrogacy in Canada is altruistic, meaning surrogates cannot receive a fee for carrying a baby. In the US, surrogacy is commercialized, meaning surrogates can receive payments for the baby they carry. Commercial surrogacy agencies are also prohibited in Canada, so we have surrogacy consultants. Surrogacy consultants can introduce intended parents and surrogate mothers to one another, but they cannot “pair” or “match-make” like a US agency can.

International Surrogacy: Is Canada a Safe Option?

Canada is considered a safe option for international surrogacy, as it has clear laws and regulations to protect the interests of all parties involved. Provincial law governs surrogacy in Canada, resulting in slightly different regulations in each province. However, surrogacy agreements generally are legally binding, and intended parents have legal parental rights to the child born via surrogacy. Additionally, surrogates in Canada are compensated only for their expenses related to the pregnancy. Surrogacy is not seen as a commercial transaction, and surrogates have no financial motive to take undue risks. Overall, while no process can be guaranteed to be 100% safe, surrogacy in Canada is generally considered a secure option for international intended parents.

Marital Status and Sexual Orientation in Canadian Surrogacy

In Canada, every person has the right to become a parent via surrogacy regardless of their ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, gender, or sexual orientation.

Pros and Cons of Surrogacy in Canada

Canadian surrogacy offers both advantages and disadvantages. Prospective parents should carefully weigh these factors to make an informed decision aligned with their goals and resources. Let’s make a summary of the main pros and cons:


  1. Legal Recognition: Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA), surrogacy is legal in Canada. The AHRA permits surrogacy, making it a viable option for intended parents.
  2. Supportive Legal Framework: Canada provides a supportive legal framework for surrogacy in most provinces. It ensures clarity and protection for all parties involved.
  3. Altruistic Surrogacy: In Canada, surrogacy is altruistic, meaning surrogates cannot receive a fee for carrying a baby.
  4. Safe International Option: Clear laws and regulations protect all parties’ interests, making Canada a safe option for international surrogacy.
  5. Inclusive Approach: Regardless of marital status, gender, or sexual orientation, anyone can pursue surrogacy in Canada.


  1. Costs: The cost of surrogacy can be relatively high. Intended parents will cover expenses related to the surrogate, legal fees, medical expenses, and more.
  2. Limited Compensation: Surrogates in Canada can only be reimbursed for surrogacy-related reasonable expenditures. Offering compensation is prohibited by law.
  3. Province Variations: While Canadian surrogacy law is federal, there are variations among provinces, especially regarding birth certificates. 

One Piece of Advice for Intended Parents Who Want to Pursue Surrogacy in Canada

Intended parents should focus not just on what their surrogate can do for them but what they can do for their surrogate! 

Altruistic surrogacy is very different from commercial surrogacy. Surrogates are primarily motivated by experiencing the journey and the relationship with their intended parents. Forming a relationship with not just your surrogate but her family (partner and children) is vital. They are helping you have your family. We often say in Canada that surrogates do it for the relationship with their IP’s, not for the money.

For more information, you can contact Sally Rhoads-Heinrich (owner of Surrogacy in Canada Online) through her website at


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Written by David
I work daily to make surrogacy available to as many intended parents, surrogate mothers and egg donors around the world as possible.

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