This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Questions with regard to the Copy of the UK Birth Certificate'.







 
 
 
 
 
 
General Register Office 
Rm 109  Smedley Hydro 
Trafalgar Road 
Southport 
 
Merseyside 
 
PR8 2HH 
 
 
 
Web : www.direct.gov.uk/gro 
 
Master Wild Hunt  
 
 
14 January 2011 
 
 
 
Application under the Freedom of Information Act  
 
 
 
Thank you for your email of 31 December 2010. I have handled your request as official 
correspondence rather than under the provisions of the above Act, but this has made no difference 
to the content of my response.  
 
In your email you ask 13 questions about birth registration and for ease of reference I have 
reproduced the questions and answers below.  
 
1. What exactly is a Copy of a BIRTH CERTIFICATE? I cannot see anywhere on the document 
that the document identifies itself as a BIRTH CERTIFICATE. Has an actual BIRTH 
CERTIFICATE been created for me? 
It is difficult to answer this question without having sight of the “document” you refer to; however, I 
can confirm that when a birth is registered in England or Wales, an entry is made in the birth register 
containing all the information that is required to be recorded. A certified copy of the register entry 
may then be issued at any time and this is generally referred to as a birth certificate (there is no such 
thing as an “original” birth certificate, only an original entry in the birth register). 
 
 
2. Does this document have lawful and legal meaning or force as a BIRTH CERTIFICATE? If 
not could I please trouble you to clarify the differences? 
See above. A certified copy of the register entry is generally known as a full birth certificate and is a 
record of an historical event. It is usually used as evidence to support verification of age and name 
and where this information is required a request for production of a birth certificate may be made to 
the local register office or the General Register Office for England or Wales.  
 
 
3. Where is the original REGISTRATION of BIRTH held? Is it possible for me to view this 
original document personally to examine it for “subsequent correction or amendments”? Is it 
possible to have a photocopy of the original document registering my birth? Is the 
information on the copy taken directly from the entry in the REGISTER of BIRTHS or from 
another subsequent document? 
 
 
 
 
 
General Register Office: part of the Identity and Passport Service. 
For further help with certificates and ordering online contact  
[email address] or visit www.direct.gov.uk/gro                                                                                                        



 
 
 
 
 
The birth register containing the original registration of your birth is held locally at the register office 
for the district where you were born. It is not possible to view a deposited register however any 
correction or amendment to your birth entry would be shown on any certified copy of the entry. There 
is no statutory provision for the issue of a photocopy of a birth entry. 
 
 
4. What is the legal definition of 'BIRTH'? Is this definition the same in Scotland and England? 
Has this definition changed since 1964? This issue is causing me some confusion. 
The Registration Acts of England and Wales do not contain a legal definition of “Birth” and I am 
unable to provide any information in relation to this question. 
 
5. I note that the Birth Certificate Copy has the word "PERSON" on it and the copy refers only 
to a "PERSON". Please send me the information held at your office as to the UK Government 
definition of this word. 
There is no legal definition, in respect of registration law, of the word “Person” and I am unable to 
provide any information in relation to this question.  
 
6. What is the purpose of having this Copy? Is this a document that can generally be lawfully 
and legally used as a form of identity, as I have been doing since its issue, or does it have 
legal and lawful limitations as an identity document? Could you kindly advise what other 
formal versions of confirmation of my registration of birth are available to me? 
Whilst birth certificates should not be considered proof of identity (and all certificates printed since 
1993 contain a statement to that effect) it is one of a variety of documents that can be used as 
evidence to support verification of age, name and nationality. A short certificate of birth, which shows 
the child’s name, sex, date and place of birth, is also available.   
 
7. Would it have been permissible for my parents to opt not to register a child that had been 
born to them in England in 1964? Could you kindly clarify the legal and lawful implications of 
this scenario for me as the child? 
Legislation requires that every birth is registered and failure to do so renders the birth informant 
liable to prosecution. 
 
8. If I am able to show that the persons registered as being my Mother and Father were 
indeed not so, or did not actually prove themselves above any doubt to be so, what would be 
the implications of this for me? How did the persons named as my Mother and Father 
formally identify themselves to the Registrar? 
The registrar would have ascertained by personal questioning whether the person attending to 
register your birth appeared to be qualified to give the information to be recorded. If it were proven 
that your birth entry contained incorrect information you should consult the General Register Office 
for further advice. 
 
 9. At the time of registration how was formal identification of myself as a baby confirmed by 
the Registrar? Did the Registrar rely upon testament from the recorded parents? Were any 
further witnesses called to confirm my identity? How did any witnesses formally confirm their 
identity to the Registrar? 
The registrar will have received confirmation from the local health authority of where and when your 
mother gave birth. 
 
 
10. I notice on My copy that no claim is made on the name as copyrighted by the Crown. Is it 
the case in England that my birth name is subject to Crown copyright or do I, as a lawful  
 

 
 
 
 
General Register Office: part of the Identity and Passport Service. 
For further help with certificates and ordering online contact  
[email address] or visit www.direct.gov.uk/gro                                                                                                        



 
 
 
 
 
Sentient being, wholly own title to this name? If not, who is recognised legally and/or lawfully 
as being the owner of this name? 
The actual form of birth certificate is subject to Crown Copyright. The details recorded in the entry 
simply reflect the information given at the time of the birth registration. There is no title attached to 
the name.  
 
11. Does the original REGISTER of BIRTHS record my forenames and surname in lowercase 
or uppercase script? My current understanding is that the legal person is always identified in 
uppercase script. Is this understanding correct under English Legislation? 
Prior to April 1969 no surname was recorded in a birth entry in respect of the child, only the 
forename which was entered in lower case. Since then the format of the birth entry has changed to 
include the child’s forename and surname. GRO policy has subsequently been for all surnames to 
be shown in upper case to distinguish between forenames and surnames. 
 
12. I note that the names of those persons identifying themselves in the Copy as my parents 
have their entire names written in handwriting. Are the names of these people recorded in the 
original Register of Births in uppercase or lowercase? 
I am unable to say how the names of your parents are shown in your birth entry as the register is 
held locally in the district where your birth occurred. As in point 3 it is not possible to view this entry. 
 
13. In England, which formal title did I legally and lawfully possess at the time of my birth 
registration? I note that this Copy offers no formal title. I understand that I am routinely and 
ceremonially addressed as 'Mister' now by Third Parties. Is it the case that prior to, and 
following, my birth that I was identified with the formal title of 'Master' and that to all intents 
and purposes I still can legally identity myself as Master, rather than accepting Mister? 
I am unable to answer this question as it does not relate to information recorded in a birth entry. 
 
You may also wish to refer to the legislation surrounding births in England and Wales for further 
reading.  The Births & Deaths Registration Act 1953 can be found amongst other places at 
www.legislation.gov.uk.  
 
 
I hope this information is helpful to you.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Melanie Lee 
Communications Manager 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
General Register Office: part of the Identity and Passport Service. 
For further help with certificates and ordering online contact  
[email address] or visit www.direct.gov.uk/gro