Register a stillbirth
We understand this is a very difficult time. Registration staff are here to help you register the stillbirth and advise on other things you will need to consider.
A stillborn 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.
When a child is stillborn, the doctor or midwife who was present at the birth or examined the body will issue a medical certificate of stillbirth. The person who registers the stillbirth must take this certificate to the registrar's office.
If the parents of the child were married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, or conception, either the mother or the father may register.
If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, information about the father may be entered in the register only in the following circumstances:
- The mother and father go to the registration office together and sign the register
- Where the father is unable to go to the registration office with the mother, he may make a statutory declaration acknowledging his paternity, which the mother must produce to the registrar
- Where the mother is unable to go to the registration office with the father, she may make a statutory declaration, which the father must produce, to the registrar
If the information about the father is not recorded, it may be possible for the stillbirth to be re-registered to include his details at a later date. Ask the registrar about this.
Other people who may register stillbirths
Although the majority of stillbirths are registered by the parents, sometimes neither the mother nor the father is able to do this.
In these circumstances, the registrar will arrange for the registration to be completed by whichever of the following people is best able to do so:
- The occupier of the house or hospital where the child was stillborn. An informant from the hospital must be of administrative grade
- A person who was present at the stillbirth
- A person who is responsible for the stillborn child
A certificate of registration will be issued free of charge, to the person who registers the stillbirth.
The certificate provides proof that the stillbirth has been registered. Any names given to the child and entered in the register will be recorded on the certificate of registration.
After the registration, one or more certificates may be bought at the time of the registration 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. A full certificate costs £4 on the day of registration.
Any application from someone who is not the mother or the father should be sent giving full details of why the certificate is required to:
General Register Office
Certificate Production 1, PO Box 2
The registrar will issue a certificate for the burial or cremation of the 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.
The following information is required to register a stillbirth:
- Date and place of stillbirth
- The forename(s) and surname, if the parents wish to name the child
- The sex of the child
Information relating to the mother needed for the registration:
- Forename(s) and surname
- Maiden surname if the mother is, or has been, married
- Date and place of birth
- Occupation at the time of the stillbirth, or if not employed at that time, the last occupation
- Usual address
- Date of marriage, if married to the child's father at the time
- Number of previous children by the present husband and by any former husband
Information relating to the father needed for the registration (if his details are to be entered into the register):
- Forename(s) and surname
- Date and place of birth
- Occupation at the time or, if not employed at that time, the last occupation.
This information is recorded in a register and the person registering signs the record.
It is most important that the information recorded in the register is correct. Any error found before the register is signed can be corrected easily, but errors spotted after the record has been signed are more complicated to correct.
If the person registering has difficulty in communicating in English they should bring along a friend or relative to act as interpreter. However the parents must register personally, as a friend or relative cannot register instead of them (unless they were present at the birth).
The stillbirth must be registered in the district in which it takes place, normally within 42 days. In Norfolk this is can be any one of the nine registration offices.
To book an appointment to register a stillbirth in any Norfolk registration office call 01603 306149, option 4 to speak to a member of staff in one of our full time offices.
If it is inconvenient to go to the registrar in the district where the stillbirth took place, for example because it was out of Norfolk, the information for the registration may be given at any registration office. This is called registering by declaration. The registrar will record the details on a form of declaration and send it to the registrar for the correct district. The registrar who receives the declaration will enter the information in the register.
If the registration is made by declaration, it may take a day or two longer for the document for burial or cremation to be issued because of the need to use the postal system. The family should discuss the arrangements with their funeral director and the registrar to avoid any delay to the funeral.