Cyprus: a fertility treatment destination

The Cyprus Republic is looking to establish itself as a fertility treatment destination for international customers.

Northern Cyprus, where 11% of all European egg donation treatments take place, attracts international customers through low-cost services and the option to choose the sex of the baby. Cryos International, the first independent EU tissue bank with donor egg and sperm, has a branch on the island.

Spain remains the undisputed leader in Europe for egg donation, with approximately 50% of egg donations taking place there. Ukraine claims 18%, and the Czech Republic 14%, according to Egg donation brings €300 million in revenue to Spain exclusive of additional tourism revenue such as payments to accommodation and food services.

Even though the Republic of Cyprus is not in the top three of popular egg donation and IVF destinations, it has potential, particularly as couples are at present reluctant or unable to travel to Ukraine.

Cyprus has IVF clinics that work under the EU Tissue and Cells Directive, thus providing safe processes from donor treatment, screening, processing, storage and distribution.  But despite the available expertise, promotion is needed to advertise the fertility services provided in the government-controlled areas.

The ministry of tourism has reintroduced medical tourism as one of its strategic priorities based on the national tourism promotional strategy. In 2023 it intends to restart treatment-specific promotions in collaboration with the Cyprus Health Services Promotion Board and other stakeholders. The plan is to include fertility tourism.

Legislative changes are needed to make access to fertility treatments easier to foreigners, some of which are in preparation. There are plans to change the surrogacy legal framework and start offering it to people living abroad as well as include the non-anonymous status in gamete donation.

Anonymous donation means the child born will never be able to meet the donor, whereas non-anonymous gives the child the choice to contact the clinic or bank and find out information about the donor when they turn 18. Some countries feel very strongly about keeping this right for the child. This amendment was recently implemented in Greece, where they changed the law to allow both anonymous and non-anonymous donation.

The health ministry has prepared a piece of legislation that will be forwarded to parliament for discussion in the next few months.

The biggest change that could be made is to allow single women to have a child through a surrogate and abolish the current mandate that single women have to be given permission from the IVF committee to have a child with a sperm donor.