Registering a still birth

When a child is still-born it is necessary to register the still-birth in the district in which it occurred. Although this may be arranged through any register office in England or Wales, it needs to be done within 42 days, and may not be done more than three months after the still-birth occurred.

Legal definition of a still-born child

A still-born child is legally 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 child who breathed or showed other signs of life is considered live-born for registration purposes irrespective of the number of weeks duration of the pregnancy.

If you have suffered a still-born bereavement, whether you are a parent or other family member, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) can offer a range of support services so you can choose what is right for you.

How to register a still-birth

A medical certificate of still-birth will be issued by the doctor or midwife who examined the body or who were present at the birth. This certificate is necessary to register the still-birth at the Salford register office. An appointment only system is in operation, so please telephone 0161 793 2500 to make an appointment to see the registrar.

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

Registration can sometimes be carried out at the hospital before the mother leaves, instead of at the register office.

If it is inconvenient to go to the district where the still-birth took place, the information for the registration may be given to a registrar in another district. The registrar will record the details on a form of declaration and send it to the registrar for the district where the still-birth occurred. The registrar who receives the declaration will enter the information in the still-birth register.

Certificates of the still-birth, which may be ordered and paid for at the time of making the declaration, as well as the document for the burial or cremation, will be posted by the registrar for the district where the still-birth took place. If a declaration is made, it may take a day or two longer for the document for burial or cremation to be issued. The family should discuss the arrangements with their funeral director and the registrar so as to avoid any delay to the funeral.

Who can register a still-birth

This explains who can register a still-birth, and when information about the father may be included in the register:

  • 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, speak to the registrar about this.

Other people who may register still-births

Although the majority of still-births are registered by the parents, sometimes neither the mother or the father are able to do this. In these circumstances, the registrar will arrange for the registration to be completed by who of the following would be best able to do so:

  • 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).

Information required for the registration of a still-birth

  • Child:
    • date and place of still-birth
    • the first name(s) and last name, 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):
    • first name(s) and last name
    • date and place of birth
    • occupation at the time of the still-birth or, if not employed at that time, the last occupation
  • Mother:
    • first name(s) and last name
    • maiden last name 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 last name or in the description of the father's or mother's occupation, it will give the parents or the person who registered the still-birth some difficulty in having 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.

If English is not the mother's or father's first language 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 directed to the Registrar's Office, 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.

Further advice about registering a still-birth in Salford may be obtained from Salford register office.

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