Short Birth Certificate

P Beresford made this Freedom of Information request to General Register Office

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Dear General Register Office,

If the short birth certificate is the First certificate created from the information in the register(given out free), which carries a warning not to be used as identification (without bearing the signatures or acknowledging the parents who are only on the live long birth certificate), under what law and whose authority does the registrar have the right to produce a certificate which is only signed by themselves and only provides partial details?

For what purpose is this certificate produced?

Is a short birth certificate evidence of a live birth event i.e a child being born to its parents?

How can a short birth certificate be classed as a true copy of what has been written into the register and signed & sealed by the registrar to be a true legal document?

If certified copies are Not always reproduced with full and accurate details couldn’t this be construed as fraud?

Can anyone other than a natural mother or father register the birth event of their child?

Yours faithfully,

P Beresford

Hughes Selwyn,

Dear P.Beresford,

Thank you for your enquiry of 3 January concerning short birth
certificates. We have treated your request as "official correspondence"
rather than under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, but
that has made no difference to the content of our reply. I am sorry you
have not received an earlier response.

You asked the following questions, to which I've added a response:

Q. If the short birth certificate is the First certificate created
from the information in the register(given out free), which carries
a warning not to be used as identification (without bearing the
signatures or acknowledging the parents who are only on the live
long birth certificate), under what law and whose authority does
the registrar have the right to produce a certificate which is only
signed by themselves and only provides partial details?
A.The Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 (section 33) provides that
"Any person shall on payment of a fee and on furnishing the prescribed
particulars, be entitled to obtain….a short certificate of the birth of
any person". It goes on to specify that the short certificate shall not
include any particulars relating to parentage.

Q.For what purpose is this certificate produced?
A.The short birth certificate was introduced as a way of simply having a
document which showed the name, date and place of birth without further
information. This may have been in light of the fact that not all births
registered had both parents listed, and this short certificate provided a
"uniform" document that would have been the same for all whether both
parents were listed in the entry or not.

Q.Is a short birth certificate evidence of a live birth event i.e a
child being born to its parents?
A.Yes, it is evidence of a birth having been registered. Since it does not
include parental details it cannot be used as evidence of parentage. 

Q.How can a short birth certificate be classed as a true copy of what
has been written into the register and signed & sealed by the
registrar to be a true legal document?
A.The certification issued by the registrar reads that they "certify that
the above particulars have been compiled from an entry in a register in my
custody". It does not certify that it is reproducing the detail of the
whole entry.

Q.If certified copies are Not always reproduced with full and
accurate details couldn’t this be construed as fraud?
A. A short birth certificate does not purport to be a full copy of the
entry, as above.

Q.Can anyone other than a natural mother or father register the birth
event of their child?
A. Yes. Section 1 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 provides
that:
(2)The following persons shall be qualified to give information concerning
a birth, that is to say—
(a)the father and mother of the child;
(b)the occupier of the house in which the child was to the knowledge of
that occupier born;
(c)any person present at the birth;
(d)any person having charge of the child.

I hope this is helpful for you.

Selwyn Hughes
Communications Manager
Identity and Passport Service | General Register Office | Communications
and Business Support | Room 205 Smedley Hydro | Trafalgar Road | Southport
| PR8 2HH

E: [email address]
To find out more about the General Register Office, visit
[1]www.direct.gov.uk/gro

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Dear Selwyn Hughes,

Thank you for the limited response so far. I didn’t actually ask who was entitled to obtain a short certificate of birth, so please answer the questions fully under the FOI Act without further delay.

The question was:

"Under what law and whose authority does
the registrar have the right to produce a certificate which is only signed by themselves and only provides partial details?"

Please also state the section of the law which refers to it being a uniform document and provide the law which authorises the creation of a short birth certificate.

Q.For what purpose is this certificate produced?

A.The short birth certificate was introduced as a way of simply having a document which showed the name, date and place of birth without further information. This may have been in light of the fact that not all births registered had both parents listed, and this short certificate provided a "uniform" document that would have been the same for all whether both
parents were listed in the entry or not..

For clarity .You have answered a different question (below). I did not ask if it was evidence of a ‘birth’ having been registered or if it could be used as evidence of parentage, but if it was evidence of a ‘live birth ’ event being registered i.e. the live birth event being the natural offspring son or daughter being born of their mother/father.

Q.Is a short birth certificate evidence of a live birth event i.e a child being born to its parents?

A.Yes, it is evidence of a birth having been registered. Since it does not include parental details it cannot be used as evidence of parentage.

Yours sincerely,

P Beresford

Hughes Selwyn,

Dear P. Beresford,

I am responding to your queries below. I am sorry you have not received an earlier reply.

Q. "Under what law and whose authority does
the registrar have the right to produce a certificate which is only
signed by themselves and only provides partial details?"

A. I think I've already indicated that section 33 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 provides for a "short" birth certificate, that is , one which does not reproduce information from the whole entry.

Any certificate is only signed by the officer issuing it: they are certifying that the information is a true copy of an entry in a register in their custody.

This follows on from section 32 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 which provides for a registrar giving a copy "certified under his hand" of any entry.

Q. Please also state the section of the law which refers to it being a
uniform document and provide the law which authorises the creation
of a short birth certificate.

A. The use of the phrase "uniform document" was mine, it's not in law. As above, it's section 33 of the Births and Deaths Regsitration Act which provides for the short birth certificate.

Q. Is a short birth certificate evidence of a live birth event?

A. Yes, sorry, I omitted the word "live" from my earlier reply. It is evidence of a live birth event.

Regards,

Selwyn Hughes
Communications Manager
Identity and Passport Service | General Register Office | Communications and Business Support | Room 205 Smedley Hydro | Trafalgar Road | Southport | PR8 2HH
E: [email address]
To find out more about the General Register Office, visit www.direct.gov.uk/gro

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