The number of children being born through surrogacy continues to rise in the UK since it was introduced in 1985 under The Surrogacy Arrangements Act. The number of parental orders made following a surrogate birth tripled from 121 in 2011 to 368 in 2018. Surrogacy is often used by women who are physically unable to carry a pregnancy to term, who have been born without a womb or who have had to undergo a hysterectomy for medical reasons. Some people may choose surrogacy if they suffer from a condition which would make pregnancy dangerous for their own health. Since 2010, surrogacy has also enabled same-sex couples to become parents in the UK.

There are two kinds of surrogate

There are two types of surrogate mother: traditional and gestational.In both cases, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) is used to gather eggs from the mother or a donor, fertilise them with sperm, and place the embryo into a surrogate’s uterus.

A traditional (or straight) surrogate uses her own eggs, making her the biological mother of the child. These eggs can be artificially fertilised by the father’s sperm or donor sperm. The surrogate mother carries the baby, delivers that baby and then gives that baby to the parents to raise.

A gestational (or host) surrogate has no biological link to the baby. A fertilised egg is implanted into her womb and she carries the baby on behalf of the parents. This surrogate has no genetic link to the baby because it wasn’t her egg that was used. The embryo is either fully made up of both intended parents’ genetics, or made up of one intended parents’ genetics plus either donor eggs or donor sperm. The gestational surrogate carries the baby until birth and then hands it over.

Why would I need a DNA test?

DNA testing can establish the biological parents of a child. Maternity and paternity tests will give parents who have children through surrogacy proof that the baby was conceived as a result of their procedure and not as a result of their surrogate falling pregnant naturally at a similar time.

Under UK law, the woman acting as the surrogate is initially considered to be the baby’s legal mother. Parents need to apply for a parental order within 6 months of the birth, which will transfer those legal rights from the surrogate mother to them. To obtain a parental order, you must be biologically related to the child so a DNA test can help you establish this and support your application. If you are not genetically related to the child, then your only option is to adopt the baby and a registered adoption agency must be involved in the surrogacy process.

If you use a surrogate in another country, you may need to prove your baby is biologically related to you to bring him or her back to the UK with you. This is also important in demonstrating that they have a right to British citizenship.

What kind of DNA test do I need?

The purpose of a DNA maternity test is to ascertain if there is a biological relationship between a child and a mother. DNA paternity tests establish whether there is a biological link between a father and a child. Depending on the test selected, the mother or father would need to provide a DNA sample by rubbing a mouth swab on the inside of their cheeks.

A sample also needs to be collected from the newborn baby after birth. The mouth swab just needs to be rubbed on the inside of the baby’s cheek for about 20 seconds. The buccal cells collected are then analysed for DNA back at our laboratory.

Results can be made available the day after the samples are received in the laboratory for £99. Same day results can also be made available for an extra £70.

Prenatal DNA testing after surrogacy

Prenatal paternity testing can be performed during pregnancy before a baby is born to confirm if the sperm donor is the biological father. This confirmation can only be made when a traditional surrogate is certain she is the biological mother of the child. The test can be performed from as early as 6 weeks after conception (or 8 weeks after the last period). This non-invasive method requires a mouth swab from the sperm donor and a blood sample from the mother. There is no risk to the mother or the unborn child when taking this test.

Prenatal paternity testing costs £875 for confidential results in 7 working days. Alternatively, an express 4-day service is available for an extra £200. Interest-free credit options are available.

For more information about maternity and paternity testing after surrogacy:

Further details on peace of mind paternity tests, maternity tests and prenatal paternity tests can be accessed at our Frequently Asked Questions page. If you have any other queries, please call Customer Services on 0333 600 1300 or email