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.

When a child is still-born, the doctor or midwife who was present at the birth or examined the body will issue a medical certificate of still-birth. The person who registers the still-birth must take this certificate to the registrar's office.

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 to register a still-birth

Every still-birth in England or Wales must be registered in the district in which it takes place, normally within 42 days. A still-birth may not be registered more than 12 months after it occurred.

Information for the registration is given to the registrar by the person registering the still-birth. 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 a registrar's 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.

Welsh language

The registration of a still-birth in Wales may be made bilingually in English and Welsh if the person who registers the still-birth gives the information in Welsh and the registrar is able to understand and write Welsh. If the registrar cannot understand and write Welsh, the information may be given in a different district where there are Welsh-speaking registrars, using the declaration procedure as described above. A still-birth which takes place in England may be registered in English only.

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. You can obtain further information about how to apply for the re-registration of a still-birth.

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 whichever of the following people is 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).

Child

  • date and place of still-birth
  • the forename(s) and surname, 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)

  • forename(s) and surname
  • date and place of birth
  • occupation at the time of the still-birth or, if not employed at that time, the last occupation

Mother

  • 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 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 accurate as such details can be hard to correct. Please check all information carefully before signing the entry.

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.

You can obtain further information about correcting particulars in a still-birth registration.

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 sent to the General Register Office, Anniversary Section, PO Box 2, Southport, PR8 2JD, 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.

Contact Information

For further information/advice please contact your local register office.

For Rhondda Cynon Taf you can contact us at:

The Register Office

Municipal Buildings,
Gelliwastad Road
Pontypridd
CF37 2DP

Tel: 01443 494024

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