Birth Certificates

The content of birth certificates is supposed to be an accurate reflection of the position at the birth of the child. However, children are often registered without both parents being named or with errors on the birth certificate.

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Birth Certificate FAQ's

Can you change a birth certificate?

If you register a forename and then change your mind, you can apply to alter the birth certificate, provided the child was baptised in the new forename or the forename was in "regular use" within 12 months of the birth being registered.

Where a father is correctly named on the birth certificate, the surname cannot then be changed. The same applies where the parties were not married, but the father attended the registration.

Where the parents were not married at the time of the birth, they can re-register the birth to show the father's details and the child can take their surname, where they subsequently marry, or the father was not present at the registration process.

If a mistake was made when registering the birth, the person who registered the birth can apply to correct this.

If you need to make a change to your child’s birth certificate as set out above then see the guidance notes on the government website.

What if one parent is not included on a birth certificate?

So what happens when one parent refuses to include the other parent on the birth certificate? Inclusion on the birth certificate after 2003 provides automatic parental responsibility for a child. Failure to include a parent (usually the father) can therefore have drastic consequences.

Under the Family Law Act 1986, a parent can apply to the Court for a declaration of parentage or legitimacy. Where there is a declaration, then under section 14A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953, the Registrar General can re-register the birth to show the correct details. The Court normally informs the Registrar-General when a declaration is made. So, while the first port of call should always be a request to the other parent to be added to the birth certificate, if this is refused you should then apply for a declaration of paternity.

If you subsequently wish to change your name or the name of your child you can do so by deed poll at any time. This will not effect the birth certificate.

Can you change a child's name?

When couples separate, one or other may wish to change the name of a child. Where they both have parental responsibility, this cannot be done without agreement. Where only one parent has parental responsibility, they can change the surname without agreement and a Court Order would be required to prevent this. Where the Court is asked to rule on the issue, the change of name would not normally be allowed, unless there was evidence this would lead to an improvement in the welfare of the child.