It is a legal requirement to register the birth of your baby, and in England and Wales it must be done on or before 42 days after the birth of the baby, whereas in Scotland you can register your baby’s birth up to 21 days after birth. The registration must be done in the district that your baby was born and if you cannot make the journey to this district the relevant papers will be sent to the appropriate office.
Either parent is able to register the birth on their own if they are married at the time of birth but if you are not married to the father, you must go together to sign and the mother must sign a declaration to state that her partner is the father. If you are not in contact with the father then you can register the birth on your own. These details can be changed a later date but it is often quite a lengthy process.
In some hospitals you can register the birth before you leave, which saves you having to go to the registration office in the six weeks after the birth of your baby. If you do go direct to the district office they will be able to give you the birth certificate there and then, otherwise you will have to wait to receive it. You will need this certificate for various different things, including claiming child benefit.
It is most important that the information recorded in the birth register is correct. If a mistake is made, for example in the spelling of a name or surname or in the description of the father's or mother's occupation, it will be somewhat difficult to have it put right. The person registering the birth should check the information to be recorded in the register very carefully before the entry is signed.
Once your baby’s birth has been registered you are now able to hold a naming ceremony if you wish, which is a non-religious event to allow family and friends to celebrate your new baby and the choosing of his or her name. The birth certificate must be shown in order to book this ceremony.
If your baby is stillborn you are still required to register its birth, however traumatic this may seem. It is often possible to do this in the hospital and they will provide you with all of the information and forms that are required. There is a lot of support available to help you through this process, so if faced with this situation remember you can ask for assistance or check any details that you are unsure about.
It is also possible to register the birth of your baby if you live abroad, by visiting a British consulate in the country that you live in. There are certain countries where this is not possible but check the directgov website or your local British consulate for more information on this.