Surrogacy In Singapore: Is It Illegal? 7 Crucial Insights

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

Surrogacy remains a topic of significant discussion and debate in many countries, and Singapore is no exception. With prospective parents exploring avenues to expand their families, it’s vital to understand the complexities surrounding surrogacy in Singapore.

This article aims to help you understand the laws governing surrogacy, including whether surrogacy is legal or illegal in Singapore, what to do when engaging with a surrogate overseas, obtaining citizenship, and the adoption process.

1. What Is Surrogacy?

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) defines surrogacy as an arrangement wherein a woman carries and delivers a child for another individual or couple. Within this overarching definition, there are two distinct types: Altruistic and Commercial surrogacy.

Altruistic Surrogacy

This type of surrogacy sees the surrogate mother refraining from any financial profit. Instead, she only receives compensation for necessary medical and related expenses, ensuring that the act remains non-commercial in nature.

Commercial Surrogacy

On the other hand, commercial surrogacy is more transactional. Here, the surrogate mother is financially compensated beyond just the medical expenses, effectively turning the act of childbirth into a business arrangement.

2. Is Surrogacy Legal In Singapore?

No, surrogacy is not legal in Singapore.

Singapore’s stance on commercial surrogacy is crystal clear – it is strictly prohibited. The nation’s policymakers believe that this approach commodifies the miracle of life and holds the potential to exploit women.

However, altruistic surrogacy exists within a grey area of the law, with various challenges associated with its practice, especially when attempting to secure parental rights over the child.

3. Why Is Surrogacy Illegal In Singapore?

There are several reasons why surrogacy is not permitted in Singapore, many of which are anchored in the nation’s existing legal instruments:

Ethical Concerns

Primary concerns are the potential commodification of women’s bodies and the child’s welfare. The fear is that surrogacy might be perceived as a mere business transaction rather than an act of compassion.

This concern is reflected in Singapore’s Human Cloning and Other Prohibited Practices Act, which, while primarily prohibiting human cloning, illustrates Singapore’s cautious stance on new reproductive technologies and the ethical challenges they present.

Exploitation Concerns

There’s an apprehension that women, notably from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, could be coerced or enticed into surrogacy due to financial pressures. The Women’s Charter in Singapore emphasises protecting women’s rights and well-being.

Complex Legal Issues

Disputes over parentage and custody can emerge from surrogacy. The rights of the surrogate mother, the child, and the intended parents can intertwine in intricate ways, leading to potential disputes.

The Status of Children (Assisted Reproduction Technology) Act clarifies the legal standing of children born due to assisted reproduction, highlighting Singapore’s intention to safeguard the interests of children born through non-traditional means.

Sociocultural Considerations

The traditional perspectives on family and women’s roles in procreation affect attitudes towards surrogacy. In contexts like Singapore, society leans more towards traditional modes of family establishment.

In addition, the procedures and considerations outlined in the Adoption of Children Act highlight the country’s dedication to ensuring the welfare of children in all family-building processes.

Medical And Psychological Concerns

Concerns abound regarding the medical risks the surrogate mother faces and the potential psychological impacts for her after giving up care of the child. There’s also worry about the possible psychological impacts on the child born through surrogacy.

The Assisted Reproduction Services Regulations sets guidelines for reproductive procedures, reflecting the government’s intent to approach reproductive health cautiously and prioritise the welfare of all parties involved.

The stance on surrogacy in Singapore is rooted in a combination of these factors. If you’re considering surrogacy in the context of Singapore, it’s essential to consult with medical professionals and family lawyers in Singapore who are familiar with local regulations and practices.

4. What To Do When Engaging A Surrogate Mother Overseas

Given domestic restrictions, many Singaporean couples look overseas. Destinations such as the United States, Malaysia, and Laos have become sought-after venues for surrogacy arrangements.

However, different countries have varied surrogacy regulations and ensuring the child’s citizenship and rights can be complex. Additionally, overseas surrogacy might involve legal and bureaucratic challenges when bringing the child back to Singapore.

Parents considering overseas surrogacy should conduct thorough research on the host country’s legal landscape and its alignment with Singapore’s stance. You can engage with a local legal counsel in the chosen country and a family lawyer in Singapore.

5. Who Will Have Parental Rights Over The Surrogate Child?

Parental rights can vary significantly based on the country’s regulations where the surrogacy occurs. For instance, in the US, a supportive stance on surrogacy allows intended parents to secure their rights even before birth.

On the other hand, in Laos, legal documents often reflect the surrogate mother and intended father as the legal parents, sidelining the intended mother.

Given these international disparities, Singaporeans often find adoption the most viable route to secure parental rights when engaging in overseas surrogacy arrangements.

6. How To Process The Adoption Application

Singaporean parents must undergo a formal adoption process upon returning to Singapore to adopt children born through surrogacy.

Parents can initiate this through the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). This procedure includes potentially undergoing a home study and assessing the parent’s suitability to adopt and their home environment, detailed on the MSF’s adoption process page.

Upon submission, the application undergoes thorough scrutiny by Singaporean authorities. They will meticulously review all facets of the application. Adoption is finalised if everything aligns with the legal requirements and the child’s best interests are deemed served.

7. How To Apply For Singaporean Citizenship

Obtaining Singaporean citizenship is a structured process for children born overseas to Singaporean parents through surrogacy.

Parents must initiate this by submitting their child’s citizenship application through the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website.

The application should be accompanied by essential documents, such as the child’s birth certificate and the parents’ marriage certificate. The requirements can be found on the ICA’s citizenship application page. Once submitted, the authorities embark on a thorough review, which can span several months.

During this interim period, the child usually stays in Singapore on a long-term visit pass or a dependent pass. Upon approval, the child is officially granted Singaporean citizenship, and parents can obtain a Singapore passport for their child.


Conclusion About Surrogacy In Singapore

While offering hope to many aspiring parents, surrogacy in Singapore remains illegal, making it a complex choice for residents seeking this option. Even if pursued abroad, individuals must undergo an assessment by the Courts on a case-by-case basis upon return.

If you’re considering this path and need help with the adoption process, book a free consultation with Singapore Family Lawyer today. Our lawyer’s expertise can make a difference, helping you navigate the legal maze of the adoption process, from ensuring that each step is adhered to correctly to assisting in the meticulous preparation and submission of all required documents.


Frequently Asked Questions About Surrogacy In Singapore

Can A Single Person Opt For Surrogacy In Singapore?

No, surrogacy is not legal in Singapore, regardless of marital status. This prohibition applies to both single individuals and married couples.

What Are The Legal Repercussions For Engaging In Surrogacy Arrangements Within Singapore?

Given its prohibition, engaging in surrogacy within Singapore can lead to legal consequences. The specifics would depend on the nature of the involvement and could range from fines to potential imprisonment.

Are There Other Options For Becoming Parents In Singapore?

Absolutely. In Singapore, beyond surrogacy, aspiring parents can consider options like adoption or In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) treatments. Some accredited institutions and agencies guide and support individuals or couples through these processes.

Why Is Surrogacy Not Legal In Singapore?

Surrogacy is not legal in Singapore due to ethical, social, and moral concerns surrounding the welfare of the child, the surrogate mother, and potential exploitation risks. The government prioritises traditional family structures and believes surrogacy could commercialise human life.

Furthermore, the complexities of parent-child relationships and potential legal disputes arising from surrogacy arrangements are reasons for its prohibition.

What Is Gestational Surrogacy?

Gestational surrogacy involves using donor eggs/sperm where the embryo is implanted in a surrogate mother. Its legality varies by country; in the US, states like Illinois require a genetic connection between the child and a parent. Understand your country’s surrogacy regulations and consult legal professionals. Ensure legal contracts are set and consider the ethics of donor anonymity.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.