“I understand that surrogacy in Greece is only legal for Greek citizens and residents, and that all surrogacy contracts must be approved by a court order before the program begins. Is this accurate? If so, how do you navigate that restriction for foreign couples?”
I get occasional email from clinics worldwide asking for referrals. I recently had a series of talks with a clinic in Athens, including a long chat about the current laws about surrogacy in Greece. When I started my surrogacy journey 6 years ago, Greece was closed to foreigners. Recently there have been some changes that have opened the country up for international couples.
Altruistic surrogacy has been permitted for married Greek citizens since 2002. However, the law was extended in 2014 to allow foreign citizens to pursue surrogacy in Greece as well. Surrogacy is now legal for heterosexual couples and single women. Gay men are still not permitted – but we’ll see if that changes if Gay marriage is legalized.
FYI… Greece recognizes same-sex “cohabitation agreements” since 2015, but repeated attempts to introduce Gay Marriage have been squashed by both the legislature and the supreme court. The court fight there still continues.
Greece is only one of a handful of countries in the world to give legal protection to intended parents. Surrogacy is limited to Altruistic programs only – like Canada or the United Kingdom. Surrogates are not allowed to profit financially, but they are permitted up to $12,000 USD in expenses.
Intended parents must meet certain qualifications, and will go before a family judge before starting their journey. As long as they meet the qualifications, the court appearance is just a legal formality, and does not require the Parents to appear in person.
Key to qualifying is that Intended Parents must be able to prove there is a medical indication they cannot carry the pregnancy themselves. The Parents also can be no older than 50 at the time of the contract.
Surrogates also must meet some legal guidelines to prove that they are medically and mentally fit. There’s a full report about current surrogacy destinations in the Surrogacy Guide.
What is unique about Greece is that it is the only country in Europe, and one of only a handful of countries in the world where the surrogate then has no rights over the child. Even in the UK and Canada the baby is born and the “birth mother” is names the legal mother until a court order declares otherwise. In Greece, the intended parents become the legal parents from conception and there is no mention of the surrogate mother anywhere on hospital or birth documents. This even applies if an egg or sperm donor is used by one of the partners.
An added advantage for Europeans is that, due to the Schengen Treaty, they can freely travel home as soon as the baby is born and deal with citizenship issues in their local courts, as opposed to applying at their own embassy in Greece.
Of course there are still restrictions, but here is what you should know….
• Same-sex couples and single men cannot take part in surrogacy programs. Only opposite-sex couples and single females currently have this right. It is believed that surrogacy laws will be opened up to gay couples as soon as same-sex marriage is recognized in Greece.
• In the case of heterosexual couples, they can be either married or unmarried.
• The age of the intended mother cannot be above 50 years, and she has to obtain medical evidence of her inability to have children through a letter from a doctor in their home country.
• The law states that only altruistic surrogacy arrangements are allowed. Nonetheless, under certain circumstances, a certain compensation can be given to the surrogate, as long as it doesn’t exceed the sum of $12,000.
• Using donor eggs and/or sperm is permitted as well.
I hope this is helpful,
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