Guide: Register a birth

Part 1 How to register a birth

All births in England, Wales and Northern Ireland must be registered within 42 days of the child being born.

You need to make an appointment in order to register a birth

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Please note that our current version of the online booking service is not mobile-responsive and we therefore recommend completing the booking on a large-screen device. We hope to have a more user-friendly version available soon.

Alternatively you can phone 0345 155 1002.

Who can register a birth?

Either the mother or father can register the birth if they were married when the baby was born or conceived.

If the parents are not married and they want both of their details to be included on the birth certificate, they need to sign the birth register together.  If this is not possible then:

  • one parent must complete a statutory declaration of parentage form (available from any Registration Office or downloadable here) which the other will need to take when registering the birth
  • one parent must take evidence that a parental responsibility agreement has been made or must be able to produce a court order to give to the registrar.

The father’s details can normally be included at a later date, if you get married or choose to add them. To apply for the re-registration of a birth contact your local Registration Office.

If the parents are unable to register the birth then the registration will be completed by whichever of the following people is best able to do so:

  • the occupier of the house or hospital where the child was born
  • a person who was present at the birth
  • a person who is responsible for the child.

Same sex parents

Male couples must get a parental order from the court before they can be registered as parents.

Female couples can include both their names on their child’s birth certificate when registering the birth – the rules are different depending on whether or not they’re in a civil partnership.

Female civil partners

Either woman can register the birth on her own if all of the following are true:

  • the mother has a child by donor insemination or fertility treatment
  • she was in a civil partnership at the time of the treatment
  • her civil partner is the child’s legal parent.

Female non-civil partners

When a mother isn’t 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.

Where can I register a birth?

You can register the birth at the Registration Office which is most convenient for you. There are 10 Registration Offices in the Devon area. Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council have their own registration services.

If the birth took place in the Devon Registration District but the person registering lives outside the area, it is possible for the birth to be registered in another administrative area. This is known as Registration by Declaration and adds extra time to the process.