Who can register a birth

Parents married to each other:

If the mother and father were married to each other at the time of the child's birth, either parent may register.

Parents not married to each other:

If the mother and father are not married to each other at the time of the child's birth, the mother alone may register the birth, but father's details cannot be included unless father is present.  If the unmarried mother registers alone, it is possible to add the father's particulars by re-registration at any future time, should they both agree and they both then attend together to carry out the re-registration.

However, the father's details can only be entered in the register if he is also present at the time of re-registration.

Where the father is unable to go to the register office with the mother, the father may make a statutory declaration acknowledging his paternity which the mother must produce to the registrar (this form may be obtained from any registrar in England or Wales) or, where the mother is unable to go to the register office with the father, the mother may make a statutory declaration acknowledging the father's paternity which the father must produce to the registrar (this form may be obtained from any registrar in England or Wales), or where the mother and father have made a parental responsibility agreement or either has obtained an appropriate court order, the agreement or order should be produced to the registrar by either parent.

Other people who may register births:

Although the majority of births are registered by the parents, sometimes neither the mother or the father are able to do this. In these circumstances, the registrar will arrange for the registration to be completed by whichever of the following people is best able to do so:                     

·        the occupier of the house or hospital where the child was born

·        a person who was present at the birth

·        a person who is responsible for the child

An important change for unmarried couples - The right to be responsible for your child

The law has changed from 1 December 2003 to make it easier for unmarried fathers to get equal parental responsibility, for both parents to register the birth of your baby together.

·        Parental responsibility for your child gives you important legal rights as well as responsibilities. Without it you don't have any right to be involved in decisions such as where they live, their education, religion or medical treatment. With parental responsibility, you are treated in law as the child's parent, and you take equal responsibility for bringing them up.

·        Unlike mothers and married fathers, if you are not married to your baby's mother you do not automatically have parental responsibility for them.

Before this change, you could only gain parental responsibility by later marrying the child's mother, signing an official agreement with the mother or getting a court order. You can still get responsibility in these ways - you might want to think about this if you have other children.