Reply to my email regarding The Birth Certificate Copyright

The following email received today from the General Records Office which clears up the rumours that the name is crown copyright.

Dear Name omitted,


Thank you for your email, and I hope the following helps to explain the position.


Crown Copyright applies to the form of the paper certificate, ie the layout, watermarks, security features and so on. It would, for example, be a breach of copyright to present a different form as a certified copy of a birth, or to amend the information shown in the boxes and portray it as having been on the original certificate issued from this office.


That is why the first warning (relating to offences) is printed on the certificate.


Under present legislation, any person may order a copy of any birth record (not just their own), provided that they can identify the entry and pay the relevant statutory fee (currently £9.25). That means that just because person A has in their possession a certified copy of a birth, it does not follow that the certificate actually relates to the birth of person A, and in that sense it should not be regarded as evidence of identity.


That is why the second warning (relating to evidence of identity) is printed on the certificate.


Each birth certificate is an exact copy of the details of an entry in a birth register. That means that it is evidence of an event (ie a birth) that has taken place and of the information recorded in the birth register when that birth was registered. A birth certificate can therefore be used in conjunction with other evidence in support of a claim of identity, but it is not by itself proof that the person holding the certificate is the person named in the entry.


In terms of the use of names, the birth register records the name which the informant at the registration (usually the mother or both parents) have told the registrar it is intended that the child be brought up in. That is all that the register shows: it is not updated to reflect any later change of name later on in life. Any individual is free to decide to be known by another name if they wish. And in any case,since the information relating to the entry itself (including the name of the child) is not covered by Crown Copyright there is no question of any breach of copyright in using the name recorded in the entry.


I hope this helps to clarify.


With best wishes,


Name omitted for data protection etc.
GRO/LRS Engagement manager
Civil Registration

Her Majesty’s Passport Office, General Register Office
Room 205, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road,  Southport  PR8 2HH

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