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New In Vitro Fertilization laws in the UAE

New In Vitro Fertilization laws in the UAE

14 March 2024

Tim Elliott 
Welcome to Lawgical the U.A.E’s first and still the only regular legal podcasts. My name is Tim Elliott. And as always, our expert is the managing partner of the Dubai based legal firm HPL, Yamalova and Plewka here in Dubai with Ludmila Yamalova lovely to see you

Ludmila Yamalova 
Great to see you too, Tim, as always. Thanks for being here.

Tim Elliott 
In this episode of Lawgical, it’s a fascinating topic and it’s everything you need to know about the new laws surrounding in vitro fertilization or IVF. So let’s jump straight in Ludmila what’s the U.A.E stance on IVF or I guess assisted reproduction? Is there a law regulating IVF?

Ludmila Yamalova 
Indeed there is. And the law was originally introduced in 2019, which is the federal law number seven of 2019, which was called the medically assisted reproduction law. That was perhaps the U.A.E’s first foray into the specific legal and medical industry in terms of legislative framework. That law was recently amended by virtue of law number 17

which was only issued in September of 2023. So now at present, we have these two laws that are meant to be read together. And that’s once again, the federal law number seven of 2019 and the more recent law number 17 of 2023, which amended a few but fairly substantive provisions of the earlier law.

But for the purposes of the legislative framework, for the time being, we have these two legal sources to rely on in terms of determining the rights and obligations and the limitations and conditions on anything to do with medically assisted reproduction industry in the U.A.E.

Tim Elliott 
Okay, so the law is has been amended very recently in the last three or four months. Are there any I guess there are significant changes if you can talk me through those and I guess the most notable changes first of all.

Ludmila Yamalova 
Sure. So, as you rightfully said, the law did introduce a number of significant changes and at a high level, it introduced more flexibility and more options for couples in the field of assisted reproduction. One of the most notable amendments is that previously the law only applied to married couples, which in practical terms meant that if a couple

assisted reproduction industry, they were required to show a marriage certificate to be able to be seen or treated or even consulted at the facility. So not only was it for married couples, but it had to be also proven by virtue of a tested marriage certificate. Now, in very substantive terms, the new law

ultimately deleted that provision that or perhaps made it a little more narrow in terms of who can apply or who can avail themselves of these services. And now unmarried, non-Muslim couples can also avail themselves of the medically assisted reproduction techniques. So the highlight here is that you no longer need to be married.

But for the time being, it only applies to non-Muslim couples. So that obviously is the biggest amendment, which means that all those other couples living in the U.A.E or wanting to move to the U.A.E, who wish to avail themselves of these services no longer need to actually have that official certificate of marriage.

However, there are some limitations or conditions, if you will, in terms of how these couples can do this legally. And in the case of unmarried couples, they do have to submit a declaration outlining the child’s parentage, which in other words means that each parent, or at least the parents have to declare in this declaration, which parent will be giving the child their nationality, for example.

And this obviously needs to still ultimately be attested by the relevant authority and the authority of that parent’s country of nationality. And this obviously makes sense because if you do have an unmarried couple and the U.A.E being how it is, there are so many people from all over the world and often most of these couples are of mixed nationalities, ethnicities, religions. So it makes sense that for the purposes of this process in particular.

the parties in advance decide which nationality they want to give to their child and declare that officially so that the authorities as well can make sure and issue the right documents for the child once the child is born.

Tim Elliott 
Are there any other notable amendments or changes?

Ludmila Yamalova 
Yes. In fact, there was another notable amendment in Article 14 in particular that previously dealt with the prohibitions of using eggs and sperms. So previously it wasn’t allowed, for example, to freeze eggs or sperms. And now there is a lot more flexibility in that regard. And so then the new law in particular deleted.

Article 14, which previously limited, for example, bringing sperm or egg samples from or sending samples outside the country. So, in other words, two major amendments in this regard. So one is it’s no longer prohibited to use eggs and sperms, frozen eggs and sperms or freeze them. Nor is it…

prohibited anymore from bringing, let’s say, a sperm or an egg from outside of the country or exporting eggs or sperm from the U.A.E into a different country, which is a huge development for all those couples who may want to undergo part of their treatment in this country or in another country and part of the treatment in another country.

So that’s why this freedom of being able to either bring in into the country or move out of the country is a huge development. Also, as per Article 13 and Particular Clause 2, another clause was added stating that unfertilized eggs and sperms should be destroyed in the case of death of one of the spouses. So this is a new term.

which ultimately means that those who have gone or have looked into the reproductive treatment, and IVF in particular, would know that as part of the process, there’s always either egg freezing, and that’s a very popular process for a lot of women who just want to preserve their eggs, and they freeze their eggs, and same thing with the sperm. And then there is the sperm banks and the egg banks,

eggs and sperms reside in those banks until what time, right? So basically, there is the law, the law now introduced a provision that deals with or addresses the issue of what happens to the eggs or the sperm if one or the other partner dies. So now the law is very specific that in the event one or the other partner dies, then by default,

then the eggs or the sperm of that person or the eggs of the woman have to be destroyed. Previously, the destruction was only mandated in the case of, for example, if the party requested for it to be destroyed, or for example, if the contract that was…

signed in connection with preserving the eggs or the sperm would expire. And that basically, by the way, how it works because obviously the facility cannot just hold these eggs or sperms forever. So whenever they do freeze, they proceed with this treatment on the basis of a contract. And the contract does have an expiration date. And there’s also a payment that needs to be paid every year to either renew the contract and therefore for the facility to continue to store.

sperms or eggs or to dispose of them. So when the contract expires, then the clinic previously had the right to destroy or if the person specifically requested so, but there was not a provision specifically about what happens if one or the other party passes away.

Tim Elliott 
I’ve read the law, Ludmila, and I’m, you know, my legal expertise is limited, as you know, but there’s one other, I guess, really important amendment here and this relates to surrogacy. Am I right in my assumption?

Ludmila Yamalova 
Indeed, and that is a huge, as you’re rightful, a huge development and very much a new topic, if you will, that is not expressly included in the law and that is the one about surrogacy. So, for example, previously there was an article in the previous law, there was an article nine, which dealt with very specifically with prohibited practices related to surrogacy and it was extremely

Now it has been amended significantly and even the part of certain clauses were removed altogether. But let’s say one specific notable change is the complete removal of clause four of Article 9, which previously stated that, for example, performing external fertilization, which obviously is surrogacy. So performing external fertilization of a sperm taken from a man and an egg taken from a woman.

than implanting the fertilizing egg in the uterus of another woman was prohibited. So in other words, previously there was this specific provision in the law that clearly defined what surrogacy was by virtue of the provision I just read out and stated that particular treatment or procedure was prohibited. Now that entire clause was now removed.

So, it’s not that there’s a specific provision that says surrogacy is now allowed, but the provision that clearly and expressly previously made surrogacy prohibited has now been removed. So, therefore, the implication is since there is no more law against surrogacy that…

that now it is allowed, which is just obviously a huge change and one I think that will be much welcomed by a lot of couples who are not able to have children of their own and or the woman cannot carry the baby for one or another reason. And we know many people like this in my personal life, through my professional life.

So for people like this, in the past they would leave the U.A.E and they would undergo these kinds of treatment procedures elsewhere. Well, now it looks like it’s possible to actually obtain that kind of treatment within the U.A.E without having to leave. And it’s also one more important comment, however, as part of the surrogacy. It seems that it’s still prohibited to be using anonymous sperm.

or egg anonymous egg donors. In other words, donating eggs or sperm without kind of identity, that which a practice which obviously exists in many other places and still, and is very popular in other countries. So for the time being is still not available. In other words, if somebody wants to proceed with surrogacy in particular, and they have to,

that the identity of either the sperm donor or the egg donor has to be revealed.

Tim Elliott 
So what are the requirements or the conditions for couples in the Emirates to conduct medically assisted reproduction techniques?

Ludmila Yamalova 
Yes, there is in fact perhaps one specific article that fairly extensively details what those conditions are that the clinics have to follow in order to offer treatment to patients. And so in the law, it’s Article 8, and in particular Article 8 and subsection 1.

that sets out what the reproductive centers must follow, the requirements and the conditions that they must follow in order to offer treatment to their patients. So one of the things is, for example, there has to be evidence that the parties or the couple have to produce evidence that in fact, medically assisted reproduction is the most medically suitable way for the couple to reproduce, and therefore produce proof that the natural reproduction has not been successful.

And this obviously means that couples who want to proceed or obtain this kind of treatment cannot, so to speak, do it just because they wish so. There has to be a medical condition that ultimately necessitates for them to undergo this kind of treatment, and that medical condition has to be documented in one way or another for the medical facility to accept you as a patient.

This obviously can be documented in many different ways. It’s the medical reports either from the clinic in the country. It could be medical reports from clinics in other countries. It could be also even just sort of the medical reports showing the parties or one of the spouses age. So it can be proven in many different ways. But ultimately, there is a requirement for the centers to ensure

that they’re not just doing this with the parties because that’s kind of an easy way out, for example. So, or in other words, that it’s not abused. Also, that the couples also have to submit an official document from the relevant authority providing, showing the continuity of marriage, so to speak, so to speak. And so that requirement does not apply to now, as of now, as far as this new law is concerned, to non-Muslim couples.

But for all other couples, for Muslim couples, they ultimately have to show that there is a marriage certificate still, and that marriage certificate is still valid. Another requirement is the written consent of both parties for the procedure to be carried out in that specific center and with both parties being present. So that consent that is signed at the same time or at the clinic is also one of the requirements.

Next is the requirement of submitting a certificate from a specialist that states there is no danger to the life of the mother or the baby or serious health risks as far as the specialist can assess in terms of the mother to be undergoing this treatment. Another requirement maybe sound basic but it’s important to highlight is that the medically assisted reproduction

center actually and all the treatment obviously must be conducted by doctors that are specifically licensed to do so. So this is maybe it’s yeah I see you smiling but you and I have been in Dubai long enough to know that all sorts of medically assisted procedures have been attempted over the years here in people’s kitchen tables and such. I’m sure you can recall what I’m referring to.

Tim Elliott 
I can.

Ludmila Yamalova 
So, yes, so there has to be a specifically licensed doctor. And then also the couple has to receive a detailed explanation from the clinic. So this is more an obligation on the clinic is to provide the couple with a very specific explanation regarding sort of the type of the chosen.

medical assisted reproduction technique because those people have gone through this process or planning to go and there are many different techniques. So the clinic has to provide full disclosure and transparency and detailed information in advance of what type of technique is available and what type of technique the couple ultimately will be going through. And the different stages of the technique and also the

full disclosure on the positive or negative, so to speak, side effects or any other obviously ramifications. The clinic also is required to provide the couple with the total financial cost breakdown, which is important because I have to tell you in a lot of fertility clinics in the US, for example, we hear that you don’t, couples often don’t get that one document that kind of tallies up or sums up all the, all the amounts for the procedure obviously.

it varies from place to place, but we have heard of these kinds of, I guess, complaints, grievances, if you will, from other countries where procedures are perhaps performed by different clinics, different parts of the procedure from different clinics, and ultimately parties or couples don’t really know fully how much the process is going to cost until it’s also decided and done. So here, the clinic has to ultimately have all of the stages lined up.

with a specific breakdown of costs and submit and provide the couples with that information in advance. And also, and this is important, perhaps this sounds basic, but I think it’s particularly interesting to see the specific language that the clinics has to specifically, as part of this detailed report, to notify the parties of the realistic probability of pregnancy based on similar cases at the center itself. So in other words.

they have to provide the couples with some kind of statistics, if you will, in terms of probability of success and what they can expect on the basis of the couple’s specific circumstances, but also the clinic’s own sample of cases that would relate to this couple’s circumstances. And also, another kind of final requirement that’s worthy of noting is that the fertilization or the implementation process.

that happens has to happen at the clinic with both parties present. So that’s basically kind of the process in perhaps, so to speak, a nutshell.

Tim Elliott 
Can I bring you back to licensing requirements just for a second and how that works for this industry, generally speaking, how it works in this industry?

Ludmila Yamalova 
Yes, and in fact the law specifically perhaps reminds and polishes up a few specific licensing requirements and conditions in the U.A.E at the federal level but also at the Emirate, individual Emirate level. So it’s as you can imagine and you would appreciate it’s a pilot regulated industry and previously under the earlier version of the law.

It was all regulated very much at the federal level. But as we know, the U.A.E is a very dynamic country with seven different Emirates, and they are different in more way than one. So this new law now offers individual Emirates to additional level of flexibility to be able to regulate and license these reproductive techniques and procedures at their own level. So…

The specific amendment in the law grants each emirate the authority to regulate related practices through their own local legislation Which perhaps for you and me Tim it means that there may be more to count there may be part two to this particular podcast and that’s in particular if Either Dubai any other emirate introduces its own local Legislation that further either outlines or introduces new techniques for productive techniques

that maybe that would supplement this law and maybe would be interesting for the greater public. So, and generally in those cases where there is no such additional legislation or individual legislation at the Emirate level, then the regulations that are outlined in the current laws continue to apply. So that’s how it works. So in other words, this the federal law applies to all Emirates unless individual Emirates introduce their own.

specific regulations. So, and for example, the law also deleted some specific articles like Article 6 in the original law, which dealt with conditions and limitations for licensing centers in the country. And so it included a new provision, which is now Article 7, giving local health authorities, so not just the clinics, but also health authorities, the discretion to add any other new medically assisted reproductive techniques.

which basically means in addition to the regulations themselves and the individual Emirates being able to regulate this space at their own level, the local authorities, the health authorities in each emirate will also have now additional freedom and discretion to introduce new medical treatments, new techniques. And we know this is a very rapidly evolving space and the U.A.E is always on the forefront of all.

new and cool things and there is a lot of new and cool things that are happening on this front as well. So this perhaps will give the not just the individual Emirates but also specific centers more freedom to embrace and research and embrace and invest in new reproductive techniques.

Tim Elliott 
We are going to have to revisit this. I know this because if there’s one thing I’ve learned when we do Lawgical Ludmila there is always a part two. There’s just so much happening legally here in the Emirates. For now, and I guess in conclusion as well, how would you summarize the most important changes in the law?

Ludmila Yamalova 
So the most important changes in summary are that now unmarried non-Muslim couples can now undergo through IVF. That’s the most notable change. And the next important change is that it is now possible to bring sperm or egg samples from or send samples outside the country.

Tim Elliott 

Ludmila Yamalova
That’s another very important introduction. Third is surrogacy is now allowed, at least for non-Muslim couples. And although it’s important to still note that anonymous sperm and eggs are still prohibited. And finally that perhaps we can now expect more innovative techniques in the future to

to be introduced in the U.A.E and more licensing centers and also new licensing regulations made available.

Tim Elliott 
That’s another edition of Lawgical recent changes in the regulations that surround IVF or in vitro fertilization here in the United Arab Emirates. As ever, thank you for watching or listening or both thanks to our legal expert managing partner here at Yamolova and Plewka, Ludmila Yamolova. Thank you for sharing your expertise and your knowledge once again.

Ludmila Yamalova 
Thank you, Tim. Always a pleasure to be speaking with you.

Tim Elliott 
You can find us at L.Y. Law on social media, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, all our podcasts are free at And if you’d like your legal question answered in a future episode of Lawgical or you’d like to talk to a qualified U.A.E experienced legal professional, click the contact button.


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