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Parents are legally required to register a birth. You need to register your baby’s birth in order to obtain a birth certificate, thereby giving him/her an official identity. You can then use the certificate to claim child benefit and other family-related benefits. By law, you must register the birth of your child within 42 days (six weeks) of the date of birth.

How to register a birth

To register a birth, contact your local register office to make an appointment. You can also book your appointment to register a birth online. The registration process will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

The birth must be registered in the registration district in which it occurred. However, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Registration Offices have an agreement set up which means that babies born in Nottingham hospitals such as City or Queen's Medical Centre can be registered in any Nottinghamshire office. If it is difficult to visit the register office for that district, details of the birth may be given at any other register office in England and Wales by making a declaration. However, there will be a delay in such cases since the short free birth certificate and any extra certificates you request will be sent to you by post.

Only the parent(s) can register a birth. If they are married to each other, either of the child's parents may register the birth. Should circumstances not allow either parent to attend to register the birth in person, within 42 days, please seek further advice from your local register office.

If the parents are not married to each other at the time of the birth, the father’s details can only be entered into the register if either:

  • both parents attend together

  • a statutory declaration or relevant court order has been made.

If the father’s details are not recorded at the time of registration, it may be possible to do this at a later date - see 're-registering a birth', below.

The registration process - what to expect 

Your meeting with the registrar will be a private and confidential interview. Specifically, the registrar will ask for:

  • your own personal identification. This can be in the form of a Passport, Council tax Bill, Driving Licence or Proof of Address such as a utility bill, although any documents provided that support the information contained in the register should be accepted. This is to ensure accuracy of records, prevent fraudulent registrations and to improve the quality of information being recorded.
  • the date and place of baby's birth

  • whether it is a boy or a girl

  • the full names and surname in which the child will be brought up

  • the parents' names, date and place of birth, and occupation

  • the parents' date of marriage (if applicable) and the number of previous children to the mother.

Where the child's parents have a different surname from each other, great care should be taken when deciding the surname by which their child will be known. The child’s surname cannot be changed later, except in specific circumstances.

The registrar will enter the details onto a computer and then make a legal and permanent record of the event. The parent(s) will then be asked to check the information, before signing the birth entry as a true and accurate record.

It is very important to give accurate information, particularly the child’s names and all spellings. Any mistakes may be difficult to correct later.

There is no charge to register a birth. You will only be charged for any extra certificates you request.

Birth certificates

Once the birth has been registered, parents will receive a free, short birth certificate, which shows just the child's name and surname, sex and date of birth.

At the time of registration, additional short and full certificates are available from the same registrar at a fee of £4. All certificates requested after the date of registration will be £10.

Tell us once

Our Registration Services can help you with informing local and central government departments, who need to be notified, of the birth of your baby.

By taking part in the 'Tell Us Once' service, we can notify the departments listed below of the birth on your behalf:

  • Child Benefit
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Families Information Service
  • Housing and Council Tax Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance
  • Tax credits.

The Tell Us Once service is provided straight after the registration of a birth, so you won't even need to leave the register office, and it will reduce the amount of time you will need to spend contacting these government departments individually.

Please note: the Tell Us Once service does not generate applications for allowances or benefits. It will only notify the requested departments of the birth. Any claims for tax credits or benefits will need to be submitted by the parents themselves to the relevant department.

However, for Child Benefit, if you bring a completed child benefit form, the Registrar can verify the child's date of birth and send this to HMRC for you, which will speed up the processing of this benefit application. You can download a child benefit form from: www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit/ or call 0845 302 1444. You must complete the form before coming to the appointment.

Re-registering a birth

There are two main situations in which a child’s parents may request the birth to be re-registered:

  • where the child’s natural parents have married each other since the birth.  Even if the father’s details were recorded at initial registration and the child was given the father’s surname, it is in the child’s best interests (and a legal requirement) that the birth be re-registered to reflect the parents’ marriage to each other. Failure to do so may affect the legal rights of parents and child.

  • where it is the wish of the parents to add the father’s details to the register entry.

If you wish to apply for re-registration of a birth, the relevant forms are available from your local register office.

There is no charge to re-register a birth. However, new certificates showing the re-registration details may be purchased. A short certificate with just the child’s details, or a full certificate showing the parents’ details, is £4 at the time of re-registration. These can be obtained from the same registrar for a short time afterwards.

All certificates requested after the date of a re-registration will be £10.

For re-registration after marriage of the child’s natural parents:

  • the registrar will need to see a certified copy of the child’s full birth certificate and a certified copy of the parents’ marriage certificate. In most cases the marriage certificate will be returned straight away.

  • both parents will be required to complete and sign the application form (LA1), but only one of them will need to attend the register office to effect the re-registration.

For re-registration to add the father’s details:

  • the registrar will need to see a certified copy of the child’s full birth certificate.

  • both parents will be required to sign the application form (GRO 185) and both will be required to attend the register office together to effect the re-registration.

  • the registrar will make a fresh register entry. At that point the new entry supersedes the original record and all subsequently requested certificates will be issued from the new entry.

If the above information does not cover your circumstances please contact your local register office.

Make an appointment online

You can now book your appointment to register a birth online.

Photo of a newborn baby.
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