You will need to register the birth of your child no later than three months after his/her birth. Registration is a legal requirement in Ireland, but you will also need a birth certificate to enrol your child in school, to apply for a passport and for many other purposes. (For Child Benefit, you will be contacted automatically as soon as you register the birth.)
The birth certificate will contain the information on the child and the parents that is given at the time of registration, so it is important that the information given is accurate. It is difficult to change the details after the initial registration.
If the parents of a child are not married to each other, there is no presumption in law as to who is the father of the child, unless the father's name is on the birth certificate. You can read more about establishing paternity in the document Presumption of paternity.
The Civil Registration Act 2004 changed some of the rules about registering a birth. These changes took effect from December 2005.
A birth may be registered in the office of any Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, regardless of where it took place. (Births which occurred before 5 December 2005 had to be registered in the Registration District where they took place.) The staff of the hospital where your child was born, or of your local health centre, will be able to tell you where you can register the birth.
A Birth Notification Form (Form BNF/01) outlines the information to be recorded in the Register of Births and should be completed by one or both of the parents to guarantee that correct and accurate information is registered. This form is given to mothers in hospital and should be completed and returned to hospital staff before the mother is discharged. The form will be forwarded to the Registrar's Office letting the Registrar know that a birth has occurred. This is not enough, however, to register the birth.
The registration of the birth is carried out based on information provided by a qualified informant who is required to attend at the Office of the Registrar to sign the Register of Births. The mother and father of the child are the main qualified informants and, where possible, must attend personally for the registration of the birth. They must bring photo identification, for example a passport or driving licence, and their Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSN). In some cases, for example where a mother has been married previously, additional material may be required and they are advised to contact the Civil Registration Service to find out more.
If the parents are in a recognised marriage only one parent need attend, however if both wish to sign the register they should both attend. If the parents were married in another country, they should bring the original marriage certificate and a translation if required.
Where the parents do not register the birth, or it is not possible for them to do it, the following individuals can also act as qualified informants:
There are different options for registration, including the father's details, where the mother and father are not married. (The forms used are available from the Registrar's Office.) The options are as follows:
It is also possible to enter the father's details if the mother is married to someone else.
For births on or after 5 December 2005, parents who marry each other after the birth may re-register the birth to reflect their marital status, and may change the child's surname.
The following information is recorded in the Register of Births:
If you have adopted a baby, whether from Ireland or overseas, registration will be processed by the Adoption Authority. For further information, please see Adopting a Child and Inter-country Adoptions.
There is no fee charged for the registration of a birth, or for re-registration to include a parent's details. There is a fee of €5 for insertion or alteration of a forename. Fees are charged for Birth Certificates.
A birth certificate is issued for social welfare purposes at a reduced cost. Evidence it is for social welfare purposes is required, such as a note from the Department of Social Protection.
The fees for a certificate are:
To obtain a copy of a birth certificate, you can go directly to any Registrar's Office. Alternatively, you can apply by post, stating the child's full names, date and place of birth, and enclosing a cheque or postal order for the relevant fees in euro. Adopted children's Birth Certificates are only available from the General Register Office. Download an application form for a Birth Certificate here. This application form is also available from the General Register Office.
You can also apply online for a copy of a certificate, including domestic adoptions and stillbirths that have been registered.
Since 5 December 2005 a birth may be registered in the office of any Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. You can view contact information for registrars here.
Further information is available from:
Tel:+353 90 663 2900
Locall:1890 25 20 76
Fax:+353 90 663 2999
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.