Registering a Birth
Birth certificates and registration
When should a birth be registered?
The birth of a child must be registered within 42 days of the birth.
Who can register a birth?
The mother can always register the birth of her child, be that with the father of the child or on her own. A father can only register the birth of the child on his own if he was married to the mother at the time that the child was conceived, if he completes a statutory declaration form or if he has a parental responsibility order along with the correct court order.
If a father is not married to the mother but goes to register the birth he will be granted parental responsibility of the child.
If the child’s parents are not able to register the birth then it must be done either by someone who lives in the house where the child was born or was present at the birth, or failing that, anyone who is responsible for the child.
How should a birth be registered?
It is free to register the birth of a child. You must register with the Registrar of Births and Deaths at the register office in the area where the baby was born. If you can’t get to that area then it is possible to register in another area, where they will send on the details to the area where the child was born.
What to do if a birth hasn’t been registered
If a birth has not been registered then it is still possible to register it many years later. All details of the birth will need to be provided and sent to;
PO Box 476
How to register a birth abroad
A British citizen born in a foreign country can normally register the birth at the British Consul or High Commission.
Choosing a name for your child
A mother is free to give the child any name she wishes, and this includes the surname. A father has no rights in the naming of his child even if he is present at the registration.
Types of birth certificate
There are two different types of birth certificate; a long version which is kept at the register office and a short version which is provided for free and is accepted for most official purposes.
Obtaining a copy of a birth certificate
If you need a copy of a birth certificate you can go about it in the following ways. Please note that a fee will be charged:
- by post or by visiting the register office where the birth was registered.
- online from the General Register Office, but you will need to have the full details of the birth or know the GRO Index reference number.
- you can phone from the General Register Office in your area. You will need to have a credit or debit card to use this service.
- by post from the General Register Office. You can get an application form by emailing the General Register office
Adoption and obtaining a birth certificate
If you are adopted and over the age of 18, you can apply at the register office where your birth was registered for your original birth certificate. If you were adopted before 12 November 1975 you will have to see a counsellor before you have access to your original birth certificate.
If you were adopted after this date it is your choice whether or not you would like to see a counsellor before getting information about your birth certificate. You can also get a copy of the adoption certificate which gives provides details surrounding your adoption.
Obtaining a birth certificate from abroad
If your birth was not registered in the UK then it may still be possible to obtain your birth certificate from the place that you were born. You should contact your embassy or the Overseas Registration Department at the General Register Office can contact them on your behalf.
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