Registering a stillbirth

A still-born child is defined as a child born after the 24th week of pregnancy who did not at any time after being born breathe or show any other signs of life.

A birth which takes place after 24 weeks of pregnancy where it is known that the fetus died in utero before the 24th week does not come within this definition and should not be regarded as a still-birth.

When a child is still-born, the doctor or midwife who was present at the still-birth or examined the body will issue a medical certificate of still-birth. The person who registers the still-birth must take this certificate to the registrar's office.

Every still-birth in England or Wales must be registered in the district in which it takes place, normally within 42 days. A still-birth may not be registered more than 12 months after it occurred.

The information is recorded in the still-birth register and the person registering the still-birth signs the record.

Do I need an appointment?

Yes, contact us on 0161 912 3026 between9.00am-4.00pm Monday to Friday.

 

Who can register a still-birth?

Parents married to each other

If the parents of the child were married to each other at the time of the still-birth (or conception), either the mother or the father may register.

Parents not married to each other

If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the still-birth (or conception), information about the father may be entered in the register only in the following circumstances:

  • The mother and father go to the register office and sign the still-birth register together, or
  • 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).

If information about the father is not recorded, it may be possible for the birth to be re-registered to include his details at a later date. You can obtain further information about how to apply for the re-registration of a still-birth from the register office.

Other people who may register still-births

Although the majority of still-births are registered by the parents, sometimes neither the mother nor the father are able to do this. In these circumstances, the registrar will arrange, if possible, for the registration to be completed by one of the other qualified informants listed below:

  • The occupier of the house or hospital where the child was still-born.
  • A person who was present at the still-birth.
  • A person who is responsible for the still-born child.
  • The person who found the still-born child (where the date and place of the still-birth are unknown).
  • When you attend your appointment at the Register Office, remember to bring the certificate from the Doctor or Midwife.

What do you need to tell us

Child

  • Date and place of still-birth.
  • The forename(s) and surname, if the parents wish to name the still-born child.
  • Sex of the child.

Father (where this information is to be entered in the register)

  • Forename(s) and surname.
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Occupation at the time of the still-birth or, if not employed at that time, the last occupation.

Mother

  • Forename(s) and surname.
  • Maiden surname if the mother is, or has been, married.
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Occupation at the time of the still-birth or, if not employed at that time, the last occupation.
  • Usual address at the date of the still-birth.
  • Date of marriage, if married to the still-born child's father at the time of the still-birth.
  • Number of previous children by the present husband and by any former husband.

It is most important that the information recorded in the still-birth register is correct. If any mistake is made, for example in the spelling of a name or surname or in the description of the father's or mother's occupation, it will cause difficulty for other people who registered the still-birth some trouble to have it put right. The person registering the still-birth should check the information to be recorded in the register very carefully before the entry is signed.

You can obtain further information about correcting particulars from the Register Office.

If English is not the first language of the mother or father and help is needed with registering the still-birth, it would be helpful for a relative or friend to accompany them to the registrar's office and act as interpreter. However, the parents must register the still-birth personally as a relative or friend cannot register instead of them.

What certificates will be issued?

Certificate of registration

A certificate of registration will be issued, free of charge, to the person who registers the still-birth. This certificate provides proof that the still-birth has been registered. Any names given to the still-born child and entered in the register will be recorded on the certificate of registration.

Still-birth certificate

After a still-birth has been registered, one or more certificates may be bought at the time of registration or at any time afterwards by the mother or the father. (The father's details would need to be recorded in the register entry for him to be able to obtain a certificate). Any application for a certificate from someone who is not the mother or father should be sent to the General Register Office, Anniversary Section, PO Box 2, Southport, PR8 2JD, giving full details of the purpose for which the certificate is required.

Certificate for burial or cremation

The registrar will issue a certificate for the burial (in a burial ground) or cremation (in a crematorium) of the still-born child. The certificate is normally passed to the funeral director who is making the arrangements. A funeral cannot take place until this certificate is given to the burial authority or the crematorium. If there is a delay to the registration, it is possible for a certificate for the burial (in a burial ground) to be issued before registration provided the still-birth does not need to be reported to the coroner. A certificate for cremation cannot be issued before the registration.