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Register a Birth and Get a Copy of a British Birth Certificate

A birth certificate is a vital document that confirms the birth of a person. They are issued by the General Register Office (GRO), which holds records of all births, deaths, and marriages that take place in the U.K. As a parent, you must inform the government of your baby's arrival. Have you recently had a baby? Learn how to register your baby's birth and order their birth certificate quickly and easily here.

How to register a birth in the UK


After the baby's arrival, their parents must book an appointment online to register the birth of their newborn in the local registry office within 42 days. This period is shorter in Scotland, where parents have to fulfil their duty within 21 days.

What documentation should I bring?

On the day of the registration, it's important to bring some documents with you to avoid making any mistakes. Some of these useful documents are:

  • • The child's "Red Book" or Personal Child Health Record (PCHR); this is a paper-based document given to parents before leaving hospital by the UK National Health Service. It's used to follow up on the health, growth, and development of British children.
  • • A document that could serve as proof of identity, like a passport or a driving licence.
  • • A civil partner or marriage certificate (if applicable)

Note that it's not necessary to bring your baby to the appointment as they don't need to be present.

Who can register a birth?

Depending on the parents' civil status, one or both of them can register the birth of their baby. Let's take a look at two of the most common situations.

Married parents or a couple in a civil partnership

In this case, either parent may declare the birth of the child. They may choose to give the surnames of both parents or only one of them. The mother can use her maiden name or her marital name.

Unmarried parents

If the parents are unmarried, it's better if both could be present at the time of registration so that their signatures can be recorded and their details included on the birth certificate. This is particularly the case if:

  • • One parent fills in a parentage form and the other brings the signed form to register the birth.
  • • One of the parents comes to the birth registration with a court document (e.g., a court order) giving the father parental responsibility.

If none of these conditions are met, the mother may choose to register her baby without the father, as long as they’re not married or in a civil partnership. In this case, the father’s details will not be included on the birth certificate.

It might be possible to add the father’s details later on by completing an application for the re-registration of a child’s birth.

How much does it cost to register a birth?

The registration of a baby's birth is free of charge.

How to order a British birth certificate

HOW TO APPLY for a COPY OF A birth certificate

The birth certificate holds the baby's full name, place of birth, and some information regarding the parents. Such as their full names, date, places of birth, and occupation at the time of the child's birth. In addition, a birth record also indicates:

  • • The sex of the baby
  • • The date of registration and the name of the registrar
  • • The registration district and sub-district
  • • The entry number
  • • The name given after registration (in case the child was given a different name after baptism, within 12 months of the birth being registered)

Types of birth certificates

There are two types of birth certificates in the UK that can be requested when you make an appointment for the registration:

  • The short birth certificate, which contains only the child’s details.
  • The full birth certificate, which includes both the child’s and the parents’ personal details, the exact place of birth, and the parents' occupation.

How can I get a copy?

If you lost your birth certificate, there are three main ways you can obtain a new one:

  • • Online: visiting the British Government's Official Website
  • • By phone: paying by credit or debit card on 0300 123 1837. Lines are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
  • • By post: getting the required application form from the GRO on:
    • General Register Office
    • PO Box 2
    • Southport
    • PR8 2JD

What is the birth certificate needed for?

You will need to provide a full birth certificate for many administrative procedures, such as applying for a passport, requesting a visa, getting married, or registering your children at school, among many others. Although both forms of birth certificate (full and short) are issued by the GRO, only the full one will may be accepted to carry out most procedures. This is mainly to fight against the employment of illegal immigrants.

How much does a birth certificate cost?

After the birth registration is completed, parents will be issued with a copy of the full or short birth certificate on the spot depending on what they requested and paid for. The fee for any of the two versions is 11£. Extra copies can be purchased for the same price at any time online.

Now you know

You must register the birth of your baby within 42 days of their arrival. To do so, you need to go online and make a free appointment on the official website. You will then have to come in person to complete the registration. Remember that if you wish to request a birth certificate, you must pay the £11 fee. The certificate will be issued to you on the spot on the day of the appointment.