When to register
You should register a birth within 42 days.
If you don't register in this period the register office will write to you to remind you of your legal responsibility.
How to register
The birth must be registered in the register office for the district where the baby was born.
If you have to go to any other register office, the details will be sent to the correct register office and the documentation (e.g. the short birth certificate) will be sent to you.
Please bring proof of identity, for example your passport, driving licence, a utility bill or a marriage certificate.
Who should register?
If the parents were married to each other at the time of the birth either the mother or father can register the birth.
If the parents were not married to each other the simplest way is for both parents to attend to register together. If this is not possible there are 3 other ways the father’s details can be registered:
- The Father or mother who will not be attending to register fills in a formbefore a justice of the peace, solicitor or notary public who will then sign and date the form. The other parent then attends to register alone and brings the completed form with them. There is likely to be a charge for this by the solicitor (etc). Copies of the form (statutory declaration of parentage) are available at all register offices.
- In some cases a court order will be made naming the father. In this case the mother can register the birth alone but please contact the register office first.
If neither the mother nor the father are able to attend, registration can be undertaken by one of these people:
- the occupier of the house or hospital where the child was born
- someone who was present at the birth
- someone who is responsible for the child
What surname can the child be given?
The mother of the child can give the child any first and surname she chooses. She may give the child the father’s surname if she wants and she does not need the father’s permission to do this.
A man registered on the birth certificate as the father of the child has no right to insist that the child is given a particular name, for example, his surname.
A married couple can also choose any surname for their child. It does not have to be the name of either of the parents.
Once a surname has been recorded it can only be changed if:
- the parents apply to re-register the baby because they were not married when the baby’s birth was first registered and the father’s details were not recorded, or
- the parents marry each other after the child was born. The birth must be re-registered in this case even if the baby was given the father’s surname when the baby’s birth was first registered.
What information will the register office need?
About the baby
- The date of the baby’s birth (if the baby is one of twins the time of the birth is also needed)
- The place of the baby’s birth
- The sex of the child
- The forename(s) and surname
About the father
- His forename and surname
- His date and place of birth
- His occupation or if not employed at that time, the last occupation
About the mother
- Her forename and surname
- Maiden surname if the mother is, or has been, married
- Her date and place of birth
- Her occupation or if not employed at that time, the last occupation
- The date of the marriage, if the parents of the baby were married to each other at the time of the birth
- The number of children the mother has had previously by her present husband and any former husband
What documents will the register office issue
- A full birth certificate that shows parents details are also available to buy. This is a reduced cost if you purchase at the time you register the birth.