Surrogacy describes the process by which a woman carries and gives birth to a child conceived through the transfer of an embryo created through in vitro fertilization using genetic material which is not her own, but belongs to a couple who is unable to conceive a child naturally. The couple seeking to have the child through this method are considered as the parents of the child to be born and as such have all the legal rights and obligations that this status entails. The surrogate mother, also known as a gestational mother, has no parental or any other legal rights with regard to the child.
The legal regime governing the surrogacy process in Cyprus is the Application of Medically Assisted Reproduction Law of 2015 (L.69(I)/2015) as amended by Laws L.194(I)/2015, L.92(I)/2016 and L.113(I)/2018, collectively referred to hereinafter as the Law (“the Law”) and an overview of its key provisions follows below.
The surrogacy process is available to couples who are married or maintain a stable and permanent relationship (“the applicant couple”). In order to qualify as applicants, a couple must prove that they are interested in surrogacy either because they are medically unable to conceive or as a decision to prevent the transmission of a serious illness to the child.
Surrogacy involves a three-stage procedure, which commences with an application to the Council for Medically Assisted Reproduction (“the Council”). The Council will issue its written approval provided that certain conditions are satisfied. Important requirements, inter alia, are the following:
With regard to the condition contained in the abovementioned point (vi), the Law was amended in 2016 to provide for an alternative option in cases where it is proven that it is impossible to find a woman interested to undergo the surrogacy procedure with permanent residence in Cyprus. In such cases, upon the request of the applicant couple, the Council may authorize the surrogacy process to be conducted with a surrogate mother whose permanent residence is outside of Cyprus, provided that she travels to Cyprus from the 28th week of the pregnancy and remains until the birth of the child, unless medical reasons prevent her from visiting Cyprus at all.
The second stage of the procedure involves a court application for the issuance of a surrogacy court order. The court will issue such order upon satisfaction that the applicant couple has secured the written approval of the Council and it may impose conditions and directions as it considers necessary for the effective implementation of the order and for the achievement of the purposes for which it is made.
The third stage in the surrogacy process involves the execution of a written agreement (“the surrogacy agreement”) between the surrogate mother and her husband, if married, on the one hand, and the applicant couple on the other hand. The agreement must include, inter alia, the following important provisions:
The Law prohibits the negotiation of a surrogacy agreement on a commercial basis which involves a fee-payment and such action constitutes a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year or to a fine not exceeding €50,000 or to both. Negotiation on a commercial basis involves the offer or receipt of any sum of money for engaging in the surrogacy process, or the receipt of any sum of money in order to facilitate the conclusion of a surrogacy agreement. Additionally, the Law explicitly prohibits the advertisement, publication and distribution of an advertisement of surrogacy.
The Council for Medically Assisted Reproduction is the supervising body responsible for overviewing all matters relating to the surrogacy process, compliance with the Law and proposing amendments to it. The website of the Council is a useful platform to receive updates on both practice and legislation and can be accessed at: Council of Medically Assisted Reproduction (cmar.org.cy). All medically assisted reproduction techniques and methods may only be performed by clinics holding a valid licence issued by the Council and as such are recognized as authorized Medical Assistance Reproduction Units (“M.A.R.U.”).
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