Registering baby's birth
All births in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be registered by law within 42 days of the child being born.
You should do this at the local register office for the area where the baby was born or at the hospital before the mother leaves. The hospital will tell you if you can register the birth there.
If you cannot register the birth in the area where the baby was born, you can go to another register office and they will send your details to the correct office.
- When registering the birth, you should know:
- Place and date of the birth, name, surname and sex of the baby
- Parents’ names, surnames and address, places and dates of parents’ birth
- Date of parents’ marriage or civil partnership, parents’ jobs
- Mother’s maiden surname.
You might not need to give all of this information, depending on who is registering the birth.
What you should take
You should take at least one form of identification when you go to the office. You can use
- Passport, birth certificate, driving licence
- Deed poll, proof of address for example utility bill
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate.
If you’re going to the register office on your own, you may need proof of paternity from the other parent before you give their details
Organisations you need to contact
Having a child may affect your tax and benefits and services from your local council. The Tell Us Once service (only available in some areas) can report a birth to several government organisations in one go. The registrar will let you know if this service is available in your area.
Bring the following information to your Tell Us Once appointment:
- The date of birth, address, phone and National Insurance number of the people to be named on the birth register, or of any partner living in the same household
- Details of benefits anyone to be named on the birth register is getting or has applied for
- Details of benefits any partner living in the same household is getting or has applied for.
Who can register a birth
Where the parents are married, either parent can register the birth on their own. They can include both parent's details if they were married when the baby was born or conceived.
If you are unmarried parents, the details of both parents can be included on the birth certificate if one of the following happens:
- They sign the birth register together
- One parent completes a statutory declaration of parentage form and the other takes the signed form to register the birth
- One parent goes to register the birth with a document from the court (for example, a court order) giving the father parental responsibility.
Click here to download or print 'Statutory declaration of parentage'
The mother can choose to register the birth without the child’s father if they’re not married. The father’s details will not be included on the birth certificate.
It might be possible to add the father’s details at a later date by completing an application for the re-registration of a child’s birth.
Click here to download or print ‘Application for the re-registration of a child’s birth’
Married or civil-partner parents
Either parent can register the birth on their own if all of the following are true:
- The mother has a child by donor insemination or fertility treatment
- She was married or in a civil partnership at the time of the treatment
- Unmarried, non-civil-partner parents.
When a mother is not married or in a civil partnership, her partner can be seen as the child’s second parent if both women:
- Are treated together in the UK by a licensed clinic
- Have made a ‘parenthood agreement’.
However, for both parents’ details to be recorded on the birth certificate, they must do one of the following:
- Register the birth jointly
- Complete a ‘Statutory declaration of acknowledgement of parentage’ form and one parent takes the signed form when she registers the birth
- Get a document from the court (for example, a court order) giving the second female parent parental responsibility and one parent shows the document when she registers the birth.
Download ‘Statutory declaration of acknowledgement of parentage form’ (PDF, 31KB)
Same-sex female couples
Female couples can include both their names on their child’s birth certificate when registering the birth. Both need to attend the registry office.
Same-sex male couples
Male couples must get a parental order from the court before they can be registered as parents. They then need to take this information to the registry office.
If the parents cannot register the birth
If the parents cannot register the birth (for example, for medical reasons), certain other people can do it:
- Someone who was present at the birth
- Someone who is responsible for the child
- A member of the administrative staff at the hospital where the child was born.
There are 2 types of birth certificate:
- The short version, which contains only the baby’s details
- The full version, which also contains the parents’ details.
Once you have registered the birth, you’ll be able to buy a short or full certificate for your baby. Both kinds cost £11 at present.
If you register the birth in the area where it took place, you’ll get a certificate straight away. If you register the birth in another area, you’ll get it in a few days.
You can buy extra copies of the birth certificate from the register office at any time.
It is also important to register your baby with a GP as soon as you are able.
We asked the Superintendent Registrar 'If there was one piece of advice to give to parents what would it be ?' They said:
‘Make sure the information you provide when registering is accurate both in relation to you as parents and baby; check the information that has been recorded before you sign the register page.’
Requests to make changes and corrections after registration can be expensive. It surprising how many times people spot mistakes when they get home; particularly for example if one parent guesses the other parents place of birth. It is a legal document that is created and for changes to be made due process needs to be followed.
Requests for changes will need to be made in writing or using a form sent to the General Register Office, they will need to see evidence relating to the need for a change and a fee of up to £90 is payable. Any change is also shown as a correction on the certificate.