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Travel & living abroad
Last updated at 12:58 (UK time) 26 Nov 2010

Registering a birth

Newborn baby. © Steve Cole/Getty ImagesIf your child is born outside the UK and is British you can register the birth with the nearest consulate or with our consular department in London if you’ve returned to the UK. You don’t have to do this, but if you do your child will be given a British document and the birth will be registered at the General Register Office in the UK. This is called Consular birth registration

This is not a UK birth certificate and should not be used as one. It should not take the place of the locally issued birth certificate.

Consular birth registrations do not confer British nationality and are not required to register your child as a British citizen or to apply for a British passport as British nationality is passed from parent to child. Your child will need to have an automatic claim to British nationality in order to register their birth.

There is no requirement for a consular birth registration to be done for any birth that has occurred overseas. The original birth certificate issued by the authorities in the country in which the birth took place, along with a notarised translation if necessary, is sufficient for all purposes in the UK (including passport applications).

Please refer to the Home Office for more information on British nationality

Before applying for consular birth registration

If your child is born outside the UK, you must register the birth with the civil authorities in the country of birth. You are unable to apply for a consular birth registration without the local (overseas) birth certificate.

Exceptions

Please note that, because of their close links to the UK and documents being issued in English, we can’t register births which occurred in the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Ireland
  • South Africa
  • Overseas Territories

We also can’t register a birth if the parents were born overseas and are only British by descent. Nor can we register the birth of a non-British child who has been adopted by British parents.

The standard of registration in these countries is similar to that of the UK.

Consular birth registrations in Pakistan and Nigeria

The British High Commissions in Pakistan and Nigeria receive a high number of fraudulent applications for consular birth registrations and have introduced a system of interviews for all applicants. Checks may also be made with the local authorities to ensure that the documents provided as part of the application are legitimate. Because of the time involved in making these extra checks it may take several months for a consular birth registration to be done and certificate issued.

There is no requirement for a consular birth registration to be done for any birth that has occurred overseas. The original birth certificate issued by the authorities in the country in which the birth took place, along with a notarised translation if necessary, is sufficient for all purposes in the UK (including passport applications). If you do decide to make an application for a birth registration in Pakistan or Nigeria you need to contact the relevant High Commission directly: please do not apply to this office. You will be expected to attend an interview at the High Commission in the country in question and all associated travel costs must be met by you.

Contact details for the High Commissions can be found at:

www.ukinpakistan.fco.gov.uk
www.ukinnigeria.fco.gov.uk

These changes are introduced with immediate effect and will also effect any applications currently being processed.

What documents do we need to provide?

You can apply for consular birth registration at your nearest British Embassy or Consulate if you live abroad, or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office if you live in the UK. Your application will be sent to the British Embassy or High Commission in the country your child was born, who will asses your child's claim to British nationality. Once this has been established, the birth will be registered and any certified copies requested by you will be sent to you.

In the first instance, you will need to provide:

  • child’s civil overseas birth certificate (If the child was conceived as a result of a surrogacy arrangement on or after 6 April 2009 we are able to accept a hospital notification where the surrogate mother's civil partner is not named on the child's overseas birth certificate.)
  • mother’s full length British birth certificate (or Home office naturalisation or registration certificate if born outside of the UK).* If the mother is not British, we require a photocopy of their passport or birth certificate.
  • father/second female parent’s full British birth certificate (or Home office naturalisation or registration certificate if born outside of the UK)*If the father/second female parent is not British, we require a photocopy of their passport or birth certificate.
  • parents marriage certificate or civil partnership registration
  • One current British passport

* this is at least A4 sized and shows details of your parents. Copies can be obtained from the General Register Office

If one parent was born overseas, we will still need to see their overseas birth certificate or passport photocopy

A full British birth certificate is one which shows details of the parents on, and is usually at least A4 sized.

We’ll need the original documents and two legible photocopies of each, and the application form plus one copy.

We can accept a certified copy of your passport but the bio-data page will need to be certified by a UK solicitor or a notary public registered with the Law Society

If you and your partner are not married

If you are a British man and your child’s mother is foreign you can only apply for a Consular birth registration of a child who was born on or after 1 July 2006. If you are an unmarried women who’s had a child abroad and you would like the father’s details recorded on the document, both you and the father will need to swear Statutory Paternity Declarations in front of a UK solicitor/Commissioner for Oaths. This is sworn in front of a consular officer if you are resident overseas.

Paternity Declaration

How much does it cost?

The cost of registration, whether in London or at the Consulate abroad is £100.80 and each certified copy of entry document requested is £64.80 e.g. one registration document costs £100.80 + £64.80 = £165.60; two registration documents would cost £230.40 etc. It will cost you £64.80 for each additional copy of the registration obtained from us. After September of the year following the registration copies can be obtained from the General Register Office. The fees are closely regulated by parliament and cover the cost of administration.

Payment by Card

You can make payment for our services by credit or debit card. When submitting your application, make sure you include a print out of the Barclaycard payment confirmation page which gives details of your payment reference and date and time of payment. Without this information we will be unable to process your application.

Card payments are only valid for applications being made in the UK. If you are applying directly to your local British Consulate overseas, you should not use this payment method. Please contact your local British Consulate for payment instructions.

Alternatively, you can pay by postal order or bank draft made payable to "The FCO". We do not accept personal cheques.

How long does it take?

If you are resident in the UK and apply to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, your application will be processed within 20 working days (four weeks). Your original documents will be returned to you and your application will be forwarded to the relevant British Embassy or High Commission, who will assess the claim to British nationality and register the birth. The time it takes for you to receive your consular registration document can vary, and in certain countries, there is a significant waiting time.

The following countries are currently experiencing long waiting times (up to six months) for applications to be assessed and registered

If you are applying for registration in countries not listed above, your application may still be subject to lengthy delays. However, for straightforward applications in countries not listed above, we do expect to be able to deliver consular birth certificates within six weeks of your receiving your letter confirming we have forwarded on your application.

Registering at a British Consulate overseas

You should consult the website of the relevant consulate for information on processing times and other information. You can find an Embassy or Consulate using the search facility to the right.

Registering at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London

We can’t accept personal callers at our London office so you will need to post your documents to us by recorded or special delivery.

First you'll need to download and complete the registration form.

Please include two stamped addressed special or recorded delivery envelopes so we can return your documents and your consular birth certificate to you. We’ll return your documents to you within 20 working days. If you do not include two special delivery envelopes you will need to include the special delivery charge on the shopping basket. You should receive the Consular certificate about 6 weeks from us receiving a complete application.

Applications should be sent to: Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Rm K4.9, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH

Obtaining copies of the certificate in the future

You’ll be able to obtain certified copies of the certificate from the General Register Office from the September of the year after registration. If you need a copy before then you should submit a request to us plus payment of £64.80 for each certificate requested which we’ll forward to the relevant British embassy.

e.g. If a child is registered in June 2000, their certificate will be obtainable from the General Register Office from September of 2001; if they were registered in November 2000 the certificate would still be available from the GRO from September 2001.