Registering the birth of your baby

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 22 January 2008

If baby's on the way, you need to know when, where and how to register the birth and get a certificate. Here are the basics you need to know.

A legal requirement
You are legally required to register the birth of a baby in the UK in order to establish proof of the baby's existence, identity and parentage.

Time limit
The birth must be registered within 42 days. If the parents were married at the time of birth or conception, either parent can register the birth. If the parents are unmarried, they can both attend to enter the father's details, or the mother or father can make a statutory declaration acknowledging or confirming paternity to give to the registrar (form 16 or 16W in Wales). If the father's details are not entered, it is possible to register them at a later date. The majority of births are registered by the parents, but if they are not able to register the birth of their child then someone who was present at the birth, is responsible for the child, or the occupier of the house or hospital where the child was born can register the birth.

Where?
You can register a birth at any register office, though the hospital may have a provision. Proceedings may take a day or two longer if you do not use the office in the district where your baby was born, because the details have to be transferred to the district where the birth took place. For details of your local register office, visit your local county council or London borough or search on www.gro.gov.uk. Note that most register offices work by appointment. The process with the registrar takes around half an hour and you will then be given the birth certificate.

What do you need to bring?
Bring your hospital discharge summary, if you have one. The health authority or hospital where the child was born will have notified the registrar of the birth.

Parental responsibility
The mother and father automatically have parental responsibility if they are married. If you are not married, the father acquires parental responsibility by recording his name on the child's birth certificate. An unmarried father can also obtain parental responsibility by later marrying the child's mother, by making a parental responsibility agreement with her, or by getting a court order.

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