Birth CertificatesThe First Record Of Your Life

by : John Gibb

In the majority of countries around the world, the birth of a child is recorded with a birth certificate. They are issued very soon after the child’s birth and usually are required by law. These certificates are generally held as proof of identity and are sometimes required when applying for things like driving licences, passports and official work related qualifications.

A birth certificate records the time and date of the birth, the name of the child, the gender of the child, the place of birth, the legal parents’ names, and some kind of registration number. They are generally stored at a regional office that caters to the task, but some people keep their certificate or a copy of it among their possessions. In many countries it is possible to obtain a copy of another person’s certificate.

The certificate itself is usually a small and unassuming form with the details of the child and signatures of presiding witnesses such as a midwife or doctor, and the hospital’s details if the birth took place in a hospital. They tend to have some anti copy efforts such as delicate patterning or inking, but forgery is not a big problem. It is possible to get either a short or full certificate; the latter having more details. In the UK, a short certificate shows the baby's names and surname, sex, date of birth and the name of the registration district and sub-district where the birth took place. A full certificate is the same but with exact place of birth, father's name (if given at time of registration), place of birth and occupation, mother's name, place of birth, maiden surname and, after 1984, occupation (UK General Register Office).

Changing the details on a birth certificate can be very difficult. Often you will only be allowed to make additions rather than changes. A new forename for the child can only be registered if the name was in common use within12 months of the birth, and a surname cannot be altered except for correcting errors.