Registering a Birth

Registering a Birth

Bringing a new life into the world is always an exciting and hectic time in anyone’s life. But while you are decorating the nursery and stocking up on nappies, it is important not to forget the paperwork. The last thing any new mother wants to think about is filling in forms, but it is essential to register your child’s birth as soon as you can.

If you are married to your child’s father, the birth can be registered from the maternity hospital, but you may still have to visit your local Registrar for Births, Deaths and Marriages to sign the register. Things are more complicated if the parents are not married, and get stickier again if one of the parents is or has been married to someone else. There may be statutory declarations to make, and possibly you may have to procure a court order. All the details are set out below.

It is worth persevering, though, as your child deserves to have a full and accurate record of their birth on the register and on their birth certificate.

Since July 2003, as part of the modernising programme at the General Register Office, the electronic registration of births has been introduced. New style birth certificates are being issued for births from 1900.

Why should I register my child’s birth?

The importance of accurately registering your child’s birth will become evident at several times in their life. From when they first enrol at school to when they apply for a job or a passport, they will need their birth certificate. The birth certificate is also used as a form of identification by many organisations, including the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. Even if your child were never to attend school or seek a job, they would require their birth certificate for making Health or Social Welfare applications.

The registration of a birth includes information about the child itself as well as the parents of that child. Certificates relating to births which registered before 1 October 1997 will not include certain details about the parents of a child nor will they include a surname for the child. 

Birth Certificates will be issued in accordance with the information registered in the relevant entry in the Register of Births. It is important to ensure that all the details about a child’s birth are correct, as it may be extremely difficult legally if the details in an entry have to be altered after the initial registration.

A Birth Registration Information form outlines the information to be recorded in the Register of Births and should be completed by one, or both parents to ensure that correct and accurate information is registered. This form will be given to mothers in the maternity hospital and should be completed and returned to hospital staff before being discharged.

What names should go on the Birth Register?

The Birth Register records the birth of a child to parents, who at the time of the birth, are known by particular surnames. The information recorded in the Birth Register is recorded as it stood at the time of the birth. 

A surname is entered in the Register of Births for each child when their birth is being registered, though this was not always the case. The surname of the child recorded in the Register of Births must either be the surname of the father of the mother or of both.

Any other surname that is requested by the parents will have to be approved by An tÁrd Chláraitheoir (the Register-General). The Register-General must be satisfied that the circumstances warrant the entry of this surname. It is important to think carefully about what surname the child should have, as once it is registered the birth register cannot be changed.

What information about my child should go on the Birth Register?

Care should be exercised to ensure that the information recorded in the Register of Births is accurate and correct based on the facts at the time of the birth. All the following pieces of information will be required:

  • The date and place of the birth of the child.
  • The gender of the child.
  • The forename or names and surname of the child registered. Please ensure that the surname appearing in the Register of Births is of the correct form so as to avoid any later confusion or difficulties.
  • The forename and surname of the mother which will be the name by which the mother was ordinarily known at the time of the birth. All the previously used surnames of the mother (if any) will be included in the Register.
  • The address and occupation of the mother, described as accurately as possible, are entered in the Register. Where a parent is not currently employed outside the home the most recently held previous occupation should be given. The term "unemployed" should not be entered in the Register of Births.
  • The forename(s) and surname of the father, all his previous surnames (if any), his address and occupation will be recorded in the Register in a similar manner to the details of the mother.

Whoever signs the Register in the presence of the Registrar legally attests to the accuracy of the information given in the entry. Correcting errors after this stage may involve a lengthy procedure with considerable inconvenience to everyone. It is extremely important that whoever registers the birth reads the entry carefully to ensure the accuracy of the facts before signing their name to it.

If a forename was not given to the child at registration it may be added at a later date. If you name the child later and wish to add this information, you should contact the Registrar of Births for the district in which the birth was registered and they will advise you.

The Birth Registration form (RBA1) should be completed by the parents before leaving hospital and left with hospital staff. This form does not itself register your child's birth but gives you the opportunity to provide the Registrar of Births with complete and accurate facts concerning your child's birth.

Where should a birth be registered and by whom?

A birth is registered in the registration district where the birth took place, i.e. the district in which the hospital, or other building where the birth happened, is situated. The staff of the hospital in which you give birth, or your local Health Centre, will be able to identify who the appropriate Registrar of Births is.

The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages is the person who is responsible in law for registering a birth. This registration will be carried out based on information provided by a Qualified Informant, usually a parent, who must attend the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births.

Where the parents do not act, the following people may also act as qualified informants:

  • A designated member of the staff of the hospital where the birth took place.
  • Any person present at the birth.
  • Any person who has charge of the child.

While many births are registered by the Occupier of the Hospital in which the birth takes place, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that the information about their child that is recorded in the Birth Register is correct and accurate. Special care should be taken to ensure that the Birth Notification Form, known as a "Form 101", is completed as accurately as possible. You must make absolutely sure that all spellings are correct. This form is completed before the discharge of the mother from hospital, or by the mother's medical attendant following a birth.

If you wish to register your child personally, do inform the hospital authorities, and indicate this on the Birth Notification Form. Some parents may be required to register personally. In the past, it has been the practice of some maternity hospitals not to register the children of unmarried parents, thus requiring them to do it themselves.

What should be registered if the parents are not married to each other?

Births outside of married relationships now account for nearly one in three of all births in Ireland, and the figure is rising. This raises some difficulties in relation to what information should or can be put on the birth register. Details of the child’s father may be recorded on the register, but how you can do so depends on the circumstances.

A child can only take their father’s surname if the father’s details are included in the registry. It is important to remember that, once a child’s surname has been registered, it cannot later be changed, even if the birth is re-registered.

If the mother is single, and has never been married, the father’s details can be added to the register and birth certificate. The law requires a little form-filling, which ensures that both parents know about and acknowledge the child as theirs.

The full circumstances where a father’s details can be placed on the birth certificate of the child of a single mother are:

  • At the joint request of the father and mother. In this case, both parents will be required to attend together at the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births.
  • At the request of the mother on production of a declaration by her naming the father. This form (S.C. 1) must be accompanied by a Statutory Declaration by the father acknowledging paternity (Form S.C. 3). In this case, the mother will be required to attend at the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births.
  • At the request of the father on production of a declaration by him acknowledging paternity. This form (S.C. 2) must be accompanied by a Statutory Declaration by the mother naming the father (Form S.C. 4). In this case, the father will be required to attend at the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births.
  • At the written request of the mother (Form S.C. 5 completed), or the father (Form S.C. 6 completed), on production of a certified copy of any court order issued by the District, or Circuit Court regarding guardianship or maintenance, or under the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 1993 naming him as the father of the child. In this case, the mother (if S.C. 5 used), or father (if S.C 6 used) will be required to attend at the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births.

Things become trickier where the mother is married to someone other than the father. The law will automatically assume any child of a married woman also to be the child of her husband. Even if the mother ceased to be married up to ten months before giving birth, this assumption in law takes place.

If the mother’s marriage ended more than ten months before the birth, she will have to provide the Registrar with her late husband's death certificate or a certified copy of her Irish Divorce Decree, as appropriate.

The statutory declarations required anyway (all the S.C. forms listed above) now must be accompanied by either:

  • another statutory declaration from the mother's husband stating that he is not the father of the child (Form SC7)

OR

  • another statutory declaration by the mother stating that she has been living apart from her husband under a legal separation, or a deed of separation for more than ten months immediately preceding the birth (Form SC8). This form should be accompanied by the divorce decree or deed of separation if either is available.

If the mother’s husband will not make such a declaration, and if the mother is unable to declare herself legally separated, the parents can still register the birth on production of the sort of court orders mentioned above.

Inevitably, the requirement of all these statutory declarations and court orders just to have the father’s name placed on the birth certificate leads to many fathers not being named. It is much easier for a mother to declare simply that the father is unknown.

Lobby groups for shared parenting, such as Parental Equality, would like to see the Irish system emulate those of the Scandinavian countries, where it is obligatory to name the father on a child’s birth certificate. Children, they argue, have a right to know their origins, and adult sensitivities ought to come second to the child’s need to know.

Can my child’s birth be re-registered?

There are really only two reasons to get a birth re-registered. Wanting to change the baby’s name doesn’t count. This is why it is so important to make sure all the information is correct when you initially register the birth. The Registrar will allow the birth to be re-registered if:

  • The parents of a child who are not married to each other wish to have the father's details included if these were not originally registered.
  • The parents of a child marry each other after the birth of their child.

Enquiries should be made directly with the Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages for the district in which the birth in question took place. The Registrar will advise you as to what documents and information will be required. Where a birth is re-registered the initial entry will be noted and all Certificates will then be written from the new entry.

There has been a change to the law in this area following the passing into law of the Miscellaneous Social Welfare Bill 2002 and the subsequent commencement order. Where there is a re-registration to add the father's details to the birth certificate (where not already included), the surname of the child can now be changed where there is joint consent by both parents. This would be of particular relevance to unmarried parents.

When should I register my child’s birth?

A birth should be registered within three months of the date of the birth. If the birth has not been registered at the end of this three month period it may be registered by the local Registrar on production of a Statutory Declaration made, by the Qualified Informant, before a Peace Commissioner or Commissioner of Oaths. You will not be fined if you are late in registering your child’s birth.

My child has been stillborn — can I still register them?

The registration of stillborn children has taken place since 1 January 1995. It should take place the same way as registering a live birth. The staff in your maternity hospital can advise you.

What sort of Birth Certificate should I get for my child?

There are two forms of a birth certificate, a short and a long form. The short birth certificate is generally used for things like enrolling a child in school. For legal and administrative purposes, the long birth certificate is generally required. If you are unsure which birth certificate a particular organisation requires of you or your child, do ask them.

How much does a birth certificate cost?

A birth certificate will cost 6.98 euro (the long form), including search fees. An extra copy will cost 5.08 euro. Birth certificates and copies can be obtained from the General Register Office, Joyce House, 8 - 11 Lombard Street East, Dublin 2. Their telephone number is (01) 6354000. They can be found online at www.groireland.ie

 

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