If you welcomed a new addition to your family during lockdown you may have had difficulties registering their birth.
In England and Wales the law requires that births are registered no later than 42 days after birth at the Register Office in the area the child was born. Registering a child ensures they officially ‘exist’ and provides a birth certificate which is needed to obtain a passport, certain benefits and enrol them in school.
Lockdown has meant that many Register Offices have been closed or have operated severely reduced opening hours. This has meant many parents have found it impossible to register their child’s birth within 42 days – which means they have technically been breaking the law.
However parents shouldn’t be concerned by this because the Government has relaxed this law, (https://www.gov.uk/register-birth) with parents being advised to register as soon as they can.
How soon appointments become available depend on the particular Register Office and it’s worth remembering that they usually offer appointments for the children born earlier in the year – meaning that even when things begin to return to normal, there will be a significant backlog of registrations. Some Register Offices have extended their hours and are even offering weekend appointments.
Whilst it could be argued that this situation presented an opportunity to modernise the registration process, unfortunately parents still need to attend the Register Office. You can’t register a birth online.
To find out where you should register your child’s birth go to https://www.gov.uk/register-offices
Whilst knowing you’re not breaking the law may be reassuring, this doesn’t help you if you urgently require a birth certificate – for instance if you plan to travel abroad and need a passport. If this applies to you then our advice is to give your Registry Office a ring and explain the urgency – they may well be able to fit you in sooner.
Before attending the appointment be sure to check the requirements about what you need to bring and who can attend.
If you would like to know more about birth certificates and their implications on parental responsibility and decision making please contact our family department.
The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP.