Answers to the ten questions from the GRO recieved 09th May 2015


The email is copied here as received except the name of the officer which I deliberately omitted.

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Clive-Albert,

Thank you for your email. I hope the information below answers your queries.

In England and Wales, the law covering the registration of births is the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. Section 1 of that Act says that…

Particulars of births to be registered.E+W

(1)Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, the birth of every child born in England and Wales shall be registered by the registrar of births and deaths for the sub–district in which the child was born by entering in a register kept for that sub–district such particulars concerning the birth as may be prescribed

This therefore provides that all births should be regsitered (your question 4).

In terms of whether or not someone has to have a name (your questions 1, 2, 3 ), registration legislation make this provision about the registration of a birth:

The details to be prescribed are shown in subsequent regulations (currently the Registration of Births and Deaths Regulations 1987). This sets out the layout of the current birth register entry, one of the spaces for which is space 2, “name and surname”.

The regulations do not insist that a “name” (which they define as meaning a person’s forename(s), ie excluding the surname) is entered, but does provide that a surname be entered, that being “the surname by which at the date of registration it is intended that the child shall be known” (that information being given, as I said in my first email, by the parents when they attend the register office).

If a name (forename) is not entered at the time of registration, it can be added later up to twelve months after the birth if the parents wish and have evidence of this.

In practice, of course, people can choose (as in my first email) to be known later in life by a name different to that shown in their birth registration entry. They could even choose not to have a name at all if they wished, although one could imagine some practical difficulties with the latter choice.

Your question 5  : there is no copyright of the details in the entry, as I mentioned in my first email.

Q.6 – can information be removed from the entry: the entry cannot be removed. If it can be demonstrated that there were errors made at the time of the registration (eg the wrong place of birth) then there are procedures to correct the information, but this is done by means of a marginal note in the entry. Any correction to a name would need evidence provided that showed that the child was being known by the (presumably amended) name around the time of the registration – the registration is not updated to show any names taken on later in life.

Q7 : a birth certificate can be used as supporting evidence in support of an application for eg driving licence, passport.

Q8 : I’m not sure what you are referring to here. Are you using the birth certificate of someone else? If not, I don’t see how you are in breach of the warnings?

Q.9 : presumably not, if you were using your own birth certificate in reference to them

Q.10 : I’m not sure what you mean by “reversing the status”. You are not obliged to hold a passport or a driving licence, for example (unless you wish to travel abroad or drive). But that doesn’t change you as a person. I’m assuming here that in application for these sort of documents you have simply provided a certified copy of your own birth entry, in which case there’s presumably no problem?

I hope this is useful

Name Omitted
GRO/LRS Engagement manager
Civil Registration

Her Majesty’s Passport Office, General Register Office
Room 205, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road,  Southport  PR8 2HH
E: name omitted@gro.gsi.gov.uk
http://www.gov.uk

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