How to register the birth in the UK

It’s important to register your baby’s birth as soon as possible after your child is born. In the UK you have 42 days to do this, if your child was born in Northern Ireland, England or Wales. In Scotland registration must be carried out within 21 days and you can register the birth in any Scottish registration district.

The birth certificate

Registering a baby means that he or she will be given a birth certificate and this is a document that will be required for a number of things during your child’s lifetime. For example, you will need it for claiming any benefits for the child, to register at school and for healthcare. In the future your child will need his or her certificate to apply for a passport or apply for a driving licence, if a passport isn’t available. It gives your child a legal identity.


mother newborn child birth maternity hospital


Where do I register the birth?

You will usually have to register the birth in the county in which the baby was born, at your local registration office and you will receive the certificate immediately.

However, if you can’t get to this office, you can go to any registration office and they will send the appropriate paperwork on to your local office to be dealt with. You will then receive your baby’s birth certificate in the post.

Who can register the birth?

If the baby’s father and mother are married to each other at the time of the birth, then one or the other can register the baby. If  the parents aren’t married, then the mother must register the birth, but can go along to the registration office with the baby’s father. Parents who aren’t married to each other, but both want to be named on the birth certificate, must make sure they both attend the registration appointment. If the father is unable to attend, his name can be added at a later date, but this means re-registration.

What documents do I need to bring with me?

  • Information about your baby – Full name, address, sex and date of birth
  • Information about the mother – Full name, address, date of birth, place of birth and occupation, or last occupation.
  • Information about the father – The same details as the baby’s mother are required for the father.

At the time of registration birth certificates are free. You will be given what is called a short version of the certificate, which only contains the details of your child. Longer versions which have the information about baby’s parents can be purchased from your local Registration office. If, in the future you need to apply for a copy certificate, you can apply at your local office for births, marriages and deaths and after payment of a small fee you will be sent a copy.

Unmarried Fathers

If you are the father of a baby, but you aren’t married to the mother, but you want to be part of the baby’s life. Then it is important for you to have your name on the birth certificate. Before 2003 unmarried fathers didn’t have any rights in law which gave them parental responsibility. The law changed in December 2003 and now if you attend the register office with the mother of the baby, you will be named on the birth certificate and this will give you legal rights to be involved with your child’s upbringing. You will have the right to be involved in important decisions, such as where your baby lives, what education he or she receives, religious education and medical treatment. You will not be given parental responsibility if you don’t attend the register office and register as the child’s legitimate father.

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