register a birth

April 2024

Register A Birth In April 2024

Registering a child’s birth is an essential step for any new parent, as it is the first official recognition of the child’s existence.

This guide explains everything you need to know about registering a birth in the United Kingdom, including the process, required documents, and critical considerations.

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What is a Birth Certificate?

A birth certificate is an official document with the child’s name, date of birth, and parents’ information. This document serves as proof of identity and is required for various purposes, including claiming child benefits, requesting a passport, and enrolling in school.

Reasons for Registering a Birth

Legal requirement

It is required to register births in the United Kingdom. A fine may be imposed if delivery is not reported within the required timeframe.

Proof of identity

A birth certificate approves a person’s identity, citizenship, and familial ties.

Access to public services

Birth registration ensures access to public services, including education and healthcare.

Claiming benefits

Parents must register their child’s two birth certificates to claim child benefits and other family-related benefits.

Before Registering a Birth

Before registering a birth, ensure you have all required documents, such as hospital discharge papers and any paperwork from a licenced clinic regarding fertility treatment or donor insemination.

Who Can Register a Birth?

Typically, either the mother or father can register the birth of a child. 

However, different rules apply in various circumstances, such as when one parent takes only one parent’s parental responsibility, when the parents are not married or in a civil partnership, or when the parent shows the child was conceived through fertility treatment.

What Documents Do You Need to Provide?

When registering a birth, you will need to present the following documents:

  • Such as a passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate, or proof of identity of the parent(s) registering the birth.
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable).
  • Any relevant court order, statutory declaration, or parental responsibility form attesting to parental responsibility.
  • If available, hospital discharge papers or fertility treatment or donor insemination records from a licenced clinic.

Where Can You Register a Birth?

The birth must be registered at the registration office in the registration district where it occurred. You may be able to access the birth register at a different office in some instances, but you must verify this with the appropriate office before proceeding.

When Should You Register the Baby’s Birth?

You must register your child’s birth within 42 days (6 weeks) in England and Wales, 21 days in Scotland, and 42 days in Northern Ireland.

Additional Information Required for Registration

You may be required to provide the following details when registering the birth:

  • The date, time, and location of the birth of the child.
  • Details about the parents, including full names, occupations, and addresses.
  • If the parents are married or in a civil union, the date and location of their birth jointly complete the wedding or civil partnership.

Registering the Baby’s Birth

You can register the two birth certificates of your child by visiting the registration or registry office in person or by submitting an online application.

Who Can Register a Birth

Attending the Registration Office in Person

To register your child’s birth in person, you must schedule an appointment with the appropriate office. Especially in cases where the parents are not married or in a civil partnership, both parents should be present. 

If only one parent can attend, they must bring a signed form, such as a statutory declaration, that can be used to establish parental responsibility.

Submitting an Online Application for Registration of the Baby’s Birth

In some instances, you can register the birth of your child online. Check your local government’s website for more information about this service and online registration in your area. When applying, be sure to include all required information and documents.

"A birth certificate is an official document with the child's name, date of birth, and parents' information."

Making a Declaration of Parentage Form (Northern Ireland Only)

In Northern Ireland, parents must fill out a declaration of parentage form if they cannot register the birth within 42 days. This form should be submitted to the appropriate office with all the father’s details and other required documents.

Claiming Child Benefit After Registration of the Baby’s Birth

Once the birth of a child has been registered, parents are eligible for child benefits. To do so, they must fill out the application for a child benefit claim, found online or at the local Jobcentre Plus.

Payment Methods Accepted at the Registration Office or Registry Office

The registration or registry office may accept cash, debit or credit cards, and checks as payment methods. Before attending, confirming with the specific office which payment methods are accepted is recommended.

register a birth in the UK

Receiving and Keeping Copies of Birth Certificate

You will receive a standard birth certificate at the time of birth registration. It is crucial to safeguard this document, as it will be required for numerous purposes throughout the child’s life.

Obtaining Credit Card-Style ID Photos of Your Newborn

Consider obtaining credit card-style photos of your newborn consider bringing purposes, such as applying for a passport. These are available at most photo studios and booths offering ID photo services.

Choosing Your Baby’s Name Before Registration

Before registering the birth of their child, parents must choose a name. This name will be recorded on the child’s birth certificate and, barring exceptional circumstances, will be difficult to change in the future.

Receiving and Keeping Copies of Birth Certificate

You will receive a standard birth certificate at the time of birth registration. It is crucial to safeguard this document, as it will be required for numerous purposes throughout the child’s life.

Obtaining Credit Card-Style ID Photos of Your Newborn

Consider obtaining credit card-style photos of your newborn consider bringing purposes, such as applying for a passport. These are available at most photo studios and booths offering ID photo services.

Choosing Your Baby’s Name Before Registration

Before registering the birth of their child, parents must choose a name. This name will be recorded on the child’s birth certificate and, barring exceptional circumstances, will be difficult to change in the future.

How to register a birth in the UK

What does registering a birth entail?

In the United Kingdom, registering a birth is the official process of recording a child’s birth in the birth register, which is required by law.

This process involves providing all information about the child and their parents, including their names, date of birth, and parental notification.

The registration process ensures that the child’s birth is recorded, and a birth certificate is issued to prove the child’s identity and citizenship.

What are the consequences of not registering a birth in the United Kingdom?

Failing to register a birth within the required timeframe in the United Kingdom may result in a fine. 

In addition, an unregistered birth can impede access to public services, the receipt of child benefits, and the establishment of legal rights and parental responsibility. It is essential to register a birth to avoid future complications.

How can one obtain a birth certificate in the United Kingdom?

To obtain a birth certificate in the United Kingdom, one must first register the child’s birth at the appropriate register office or registry office within the birth registration district. 

After providing all the required information and documentation, the birth certificate will be issued, confirming the identity and citizenship of the child’s father.

Is it possible for a father to register a birth without the mother?

If he has parental responsibility, a father can register a birth without the mother in the United Kingdom. 

If the parents are married or are civil partner parents and the father’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate, parental responsibility for the treatment of the unmarried one is typically granted. 

In the case of unmarried or non-civil partner parents, the father can acquire parental responsibility through a court order, a signed statutory declaration, or the completion of a parentage form.

What is the time frame for registering a birth?

The following are the timeframes for registering a birth in the United Kingdom:

  • 42 days in England and Wales (6 weeks)
  • Twenty-one days in Scotland
  • 42 days were spent in Northern Ireland

If you cannot register within these timeframes, you must contact the appropriate register office or registry office to discuss available options and avoid potential penalties.

What are the parental responsibilities of female parents?

Female and male parental responsibilities involve protecting and maintaining the child’s well-being, providing a suitable home, and ensuring the child receives an appropriate education. 

The details of the father’s parental responsibility for both parents, including the father and mother, should be included in the birth registration procedure. 

To establish the father’s legal rights and parental responsibility, the father’s information must be provided, especially in cases where the parents are not married, or the civil partner parents are in a civil partnership.

What steps should be taken if the child’s birth occurred abroad?

Depending on where a child was born, the process for registering the birth may vary. To inquire about the registration process, British citizens should contact the British consulate, embassy, or high commission in their area. 

The parents must provide all pertinent information and documentation, including the child’s date of birth, knowledge, and proof of British citizenship. Once registration is complete, the parents can apply for a birth certificate for their child in the United Kingdom.

How do both parents jointly complete a birth?

The birth registration is completed jointly by both parents when they appear together at the registered office with all the required information and documentation. This procedure may involve providing proof of identity, the child’s father and father’s details, date of birth, and other pertinent information. 

The parents may be required to present their marriage or civil partnership certificate if they are married or in a civil partnership. Documentation from the licenced clinic may also be necessary for fertility treatment or donor insemination.

How to register a birth

How can parents ensure they are registering their child at the correct office?

Parents are required to register the birth of their child in the registration district where the birth occurred. They can search for registered offices online or contact their local council for assistance in locating the correct office. 

Registering the birth at the appropriate office ensures the process will be completed quickly and without unnecessary delays.

What should a parent do if the other parent cannot register the birth?

Suppose neither parent nor the other parent is unwilling to register the birth. In that case, the willing parent should contact the registered office for guidance on how to proceed to register births themselves. 

They may be required to submit additional documentation or to complete a statutory declaration of parentage form to establish parental responsibility. Sometimes, a court order may be necessary to resolve any registration-related disputes.

What should parents know about registering a birth after fertility treatment?

During the birth registration process, parents who have undergone fertility treatment or donor insemination at a licenced clinic must provide relevant documentation from the clinic. 

This documentation may include information from a licensed clinic, parents’ details about the treatment, the donor’s identity (if known), and any parental consent forms. These details are required to ensure the birth registration is accurate and complete.

Meet the author

Jane Parkinson

Jane Parkinson

Jane is one of our primary content writers and specialises in elder care. She has a degree in English language and literature from Manchester University and has been writing and reviewing products for a number of years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long do parents have to register a birth in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, a birth must be registered within 42 days, or six weeks, of its occurrence. It is essential to adhere to this deadline to avoid any legal complications or delays in claiming child benefits. Suppose exceptional circumstances prevent the parents from registering the birth within the prescribed timeframe. In that case, they should contact the registration office as soon as possible to discuss their options and obtain guidance on how to proceed.

What if the parents are unmarried, in a civil partnership, or have different surnames?

Suppose the parents are unmarried or in a civil partnership and want the father’s information included on the birth certificate. In that case, both parents must attend the registered office together. The father’s data may not be included if only the mother is present, and he may not have automatic parental responsibility. If the parents have different surnames, they can choose either surname for their child or combine them to create a compound surname.

Can a birth be registered online or by post in the UK?

In the United Kingdom, birth registration generally requires personal attendance at the registered office. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some register offices may accept online or postal registrations instead of in-person ones. Parents should contact their local register office or visit their local council’s website to confirm the options for registering a birth under these extraordinary circumstances.

How can parents obtain additional copies of their child’s birth certificate?

Parents can obtain additional copies of their child’s birth certificate by contacting the office where the birth was registered. Obtaining additional copies may incur a fee, the amount of which may vary depending on the type of certificate requested (short or full version). Keeping these documents secure is essential, as they are frequently required for various reasons, including passport applications, school enrollment, and claiming child benefits.

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