Surrogacy in Canada vs. USA: Pros, Cons, and Key Differences

The United States and Canada emerge as the safest options for non-resident prospective parents when considering surrogacy abroad. The favorable legislation in many US states and across Canada often attracts foreign parents seeking surrogacy. But what are the primary differences between surrogacy in Canada vs. the USA?

surrogacy in canada vs surrogacy in usa

Types of Surrogacy Allowed: Commercial vs. Altruistic

The practice of surrogacy in both countries is legal, although there are differences in the types of surrogacy allowed depending on the state/province.

In the US, some states permit commercial surrogacy, while others only allow altruistic surrogacy, and a few forbid surrogacy altogether.

In Canada, as per the Assisted Human Reproduction Act passed in 2004, it is illegal for a surrogate mother or egg donor to be compensated for her services, except for the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses related to the pregnancy during the surrogacy process. The fact that surrogacy agreements must be 100% altruistic results in a smaller pool of willing surrogate mothers.

Waiting Time to Find a Match

Regardless of the country, matching with a surrogate involves a waiting period. Usually, there are more intended parents than available surrogates. In the US, a typical waiting time for finding a surrogate is from 3 to 6 months, while in Canada, due to the shortage of gestational surrogates, the waiting time can extend to a year or longer.

Cost of Surrogacy

The cost of surrogacy varies significantly between Canada and the US. Several factors contribute to this difference:

  • Health care system: in the United States, contrary to Canada, there is no national public health care service covering both the surrogate and the delivery, so if you pursue a surrogacy process in the United States, you need to consider the costs of insurance premiums to cover the medical treatment during the pregnancy.
  • Surrogate compensation: as previously mentioned, surrogacy in Canada is altruistic. This means that it is illegal to benefit commercially from surrogacy. However, the surrogate is allowed to get reimbursements for expenses. As a result, compensation in Canada is typically lower than in the United States. In the US, surrogates charge an amount for their service on top of reimbursements.
  • Surrogacy agencies: In Canada, surrogacy agencies are not technically legal. They cannot match intended parents with surrogates because, according to the law, the responsibility to find surrogate mother is under the intended parents.
  • Canadian agencies navigate the laws to support intended parents and surrogates despite legal restrictions. However, the process may be more complex than in the US, where surrogacy consultants can manage the entire process. On the other hand, a larger number of surrogacy consultants are established in the country, often with higher professionalism, leading to higher agency fees than in Canada.

Parental Rights

In the US and Canada, there are clear regulations and procedures for the intended parents to be registered as the baby’s legal parents. However, the legal process may change depending on the State or Province where the surrogate lives.

On the other hand, unlike in some US states, in Canada, the surrogate holds the parental rights upon the baby’s birth because there are no “pre-birth orders”.

While both countries offer safe surrogacy options, understanding the nuances of surrogacy in Canada vs. the USA is crucial.

Surrogacy in Canada vs. USA: Pros and Cons

Let’s summarize some pros and cons of surrogacy in Canada compared to the USA:

Pros of Surrogacy in Canada

  1. Altruistic Model: In Canada, surrogacy is primarily altruistic, meaning the surrogate mother cannot receive monetary compensation beyond reimbursement for expenses. This can lead to lower costs for intended parents.
  2. Healthcare Coverage: Canada has a national healthcare system that covers medical expenses. This can reduce healthcare costs for surrogacy.
  3. Legal Stability: Canada has clear and stable surrogacy laws, providing a reliable legal framework for agreements.

Cons of Surrogacy in Canada

  1. Limited Surrogates: Due to the compassionate nature of surrogacy in Canada, there is a limited pool of women willing to be surrogate mothers. This can result in longer waiting times for intended parents.

Pros of Surrogacy in the US

  1. Commercial and Altruistic Options: The USA offers commercial and altruistic options.
  2. Lower Waiting Times: In the USA, thanks to a more significant number of surrogates, waiting times for matching can often be shorter.

Cons of Surrogacy in the US

  1. Higher Costs: Commercial surrogacy in the US can be expensive due to surrogate compensation and healthcare expenses
  2. Complex Legal Landscape: Surrogacy laws vary by state in the USA, leading to legal complexities.


Choosing between surrogacy in Canada and the USA requires careful consideration. In Canada, altruistic surrogacy is the rule, resulting in lower costs but longer waiting times. Meanwhile, compensated surrogacy is allowed in the USA, but costs are higher. 

Whether you opt for surrogacy in Canada or the United States, seeking expert guidance is essential. With the right knowledge, you can confidently embark on your surrogacy journey, knowing the best path for your family’s unique needs.

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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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