I’ve read that IVF clinics in Asia or Eastern Europe are much cheaper than in the United States. If that’s the case, can I have my IVF procedure there and then send the embryos to the US? I can transfer them to an American surrogate and the baby can be born under the American laws with American citizenship.
Thanks for the question, Matt:
It’s quite common for international couples to take advantage of less expensive, local clinics to conceive their embryos. They then decide to transport them to a surrogacy clinic in a country that’s more supportive of surrogacy, like the United States. The advantage is that you can conceive your embryos with a familiar doctor without traveling or taking time away from home. And there are good international medical couriers who can perform this task.
But bringing embryos into the United States is a unique challenge.
All embryos brought into the US for surrogacy need an in-depth FDA medical screening. This serology test is required of both the egg and sperm donor, and it must be done by a US laboratory at the time of the IVF cycle. So this can’t be an afterthought — you need to plan for the transport to the US well before the IVF cycle happens. (There is an obscure exception for heterosexual couples, but not for same-sex couples.)
If you are considering moving your embryos internationally, you should consider a program in a country where import requirements are less onerous.
There are many benefits of brining embryos into the US for a surrogacy journey… but it will definitely NOT save you money.
By far the largest expense in a surrogacy procedure is the cost of finding, screening, managing and compensating your surrogate. While clinic fees in the US can run between $20,000 and $30,000 USD, the total payments related to your surrogate can be about $75,000 USD.
Remember that in addition to the cost of the overseas clinical procedures you also have to add medical shipment (from $4,000 to $5,000 USD) and your own travel costs (probably and additional $2000 to $3000 USD). An inexpensive clinic in Asia or South America will still cost about $10,000 for an IVF procedure.
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As you can see, there is little cost benefit in using an IVF clinic overseas to conceive the embryos instead of a clinic in California or Mexico. You can save some money, but it won’t make a big dent in your total budget.
As for countries like India or Thailand… it is generally prohibited to ship embryos out of India. And Thai clinics are under such tight scrutiny that they are unlikely to work with any foreign parents who don’t have blood relations inside Thailand.
Some couples ask me if they can send their US surrogate overseas to receive the embryo transfer, and then again the cost of finding a surrogate who is willing to travel abroad for 2 weeks or more (plus her travel expenses and accommodation) is likely far more than what you would save on the cost of the clinical procedures.
Of course the obvious exception is surrogacy in Mexico, which is relatively inexpensive to send surrogate across the border to receive an embryo transfer at a reputable Mexican clinic. But even so, the real cost savings of performing an IVF cycle in Mexico (as opposed to the United States) is the availability of local Mexican egg donors, which are as affordable as $5000 USD, compared to $18,000 USD for a US donor.
I hope this is useful,
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