A stillborn child is legally defined as a child born after the 24th week of pregnancy and who did not show any signs of life at any time after being born.
Stillbirths have to be registered - as well as being an important source of historical and statistical information, it also gives parents the opportunity to have their child officially acknowledged and to give him or her a name if they so wish.
How to register a stillbirth
Contact your local register office to make an appointment to register the stillbirth.
A stillbirth should be registered within 42 days, but cannot be registered more than 12 months after it happened. There is no charge for the registration itself. If requested by the parent(s), a certificate will cost £4 at the time of registration. All certificates requested after the date of a registration will be £7. Only the child's mother or father (as named in the registration) can apply for a certificate after the day of registration. Certificates from older records can only be obtained from the General Register Office, tel: 0300 123 1837 and only by the mother or father.
Usually it is the parent(s) who will register the stillbirth:
the mother, or
the father, where he is married to the mother at the time of the stillbirth or conception, or
both parents attending together where they are not married to each other.
For advice about circumstances not covered here please speak with your local register office.
You will need to bring with you the medical certificate of stillbirth issued by the doctor or midwife present at the time.
The registrar will ask for the following details:
The child's date and place of stillbirth; name(s) and surname, if the parents wish; the sex of the child
The father's name and surname; date and place of birth; occupation (where his information is to be recorded in the register)
The mother's name and surname; maiden surname if previously married; date and place of birth; occupation; address; date of marriage, if married to child's father.
It is vital that all the information is recorded correctly, since mistakes can be complicated to correct and may take a long time to process.
Changes to stillbirth records
If an error is discovered in a stillbirth register entry after it has been registered, the details may be amended or added to. Requests for corrections should be made at the register office where the stillbirth was registered. However, in certain circumstances, the paperwork must be sent to the Registrar General for authorisation.
Applications for corrections should be made by the person who gave the information for the registration, or by the other parent. They will be asked to provide documentary evidence to prove that an error was made at the time of registration.
For further information contact your local register office.