Nature of Registration
Registration of births does not register a person’s name or the person in any broader sense. It registers the date of birth, together with particulars of name, place of birth and details of parents.
The parental details are not necessarily final. See separately under Family Law in relation to the legislation on the non-marital father. See also the section on health in relation to difficult issues surrounding surrogacy, donor sperm and eggs, etc.
The 2019 Act sought to facilitate the commencement of existing legislation that provides for the registration of births of donor-conceived children. This allows both partners in a same-sex female relationship to have their details registered in the register of births.
The Civil Registration Act 2004 was enacted as part of a comprehensive modernisation programme. It rationalised the procedures for registration of births, stillbirths and deaths.
The Registrar General was given responsibility for the policy of the civil registration service. Responsibility for the management of the service at the local level was assigned to the HSE. New registers were established for divorce and civil nullity. The procedures in relation to the registration of marriages were streamlined and reformed.
Registration of Births
When a child is born in the State, his or her parents have a duty to attend before the registrar and give details of the birth and sign the registrar within three months. In practice, when a child is born at a hospital, the hospital staff will assist in the registration of the birth. Where parents can attend, they should bring evidence of identification.
Where the parents are dead or incapable of complying with the requirement, other qualified persons, including the surviving parent, guardians, persons present at birth, occupiers of hospital buildings or the persons having charge of the child, are obliged to register the birth, unless they are aware that another person has done it. Once one of the qualified persons mentioned above has undertaken the obligation, the others are discharged from it.
The authority may give notice requiring persons to attend to register a birth where the obligation is not complied with. Where the above obligations have been complied with, the registrar it is to register the birth in the prescribed format.
Where neither the parents nor qualified person attends to register the birth, the Registrar General may register the birth upon adequate production of evidence of the requisite details. The birth may be registered later with the consent of the superintendent general.
Where a living newborn child has been abandoned, the person who finds the child and the person in whose charge he or she is placed must notify the registrar of the birth and give such information as he is in a position to do so.
The following information is included in the register:
- Time, date and place of the birth
- Sex of the child
- The child’s PPS number
- Forename and surname of the child
- Forename and surname of the mother
- Birth surname of the mother & any other former surnames of the mother
- Mother’s normal occupation
- Mother’s normal address
- Mother’s date of birth
- Mother’s marital status
- Mother’s PPS number
- Birth name of mother’s mother
- Similar information for the father
The surname of a child to be entered on the register of births is, subject to any linguistic modifications, to be that of the parents of the child as stated in the register of birth. If a child is to have another surname, then an application must be made for the consent of the Registrar General.
The 2019 Act provides that the country of birth and the country of citizenship of a deceased person are to be added to the particulars of a death to be entered in the register of deaths. This provision, as well as providing a richer source of data in the records of deaths held by the General Register Office, also responds to the State’s obligations under European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 205/2014.
There are a number of methods by which a person who is not married to the mother may be entered as the father on the register. The mother and father may jointly request the same in writing and make a declaration that the person is the father. The mother may furnish a declaration by each of the mother and father.
If the mother was married at the date of birth or within 10 months before, another person might not be registered unless there is either a statutory declaration of the person to whom she was married that he is not the father or a statutory declaration of the mother that she has been living apart from her husband by virtue of divorce, decree nisi, deed of separation or judicial separation. The father of the child who is not married to the mother at the date of the birth or any time during the preceding 10 months is not required to give information about the birth.
The father may request and give a declaration by both mother and father, or a court order may be produced under the Status of Children act declaring the person to be the father. Where one parent requests notification by the production of a court order, the registrar has to notify the other parent.
2014 Amendment re Father
It is the duty of both parents to comply with the obligations on registration of the birth of a child notwithstanding that they are not married to each other. Where the mother of the child attends alone she must provide information as to the father’s name and contact details. Where exceptional circumstances exist that may exempt the mother from providing the father’s details she must complete a statutory declaration stating the reason(s) she is claiming exemption.
A birth may be registered by a mother, father or child over 18 whose birth is concerned on foot of a court order granted under section 35 of the Status of Children Act, 1987. A birth may be registered by a child over 18 whose birth is concerned on foot of a court order granted under section 45 of the Status of Children Act, 1987.
Where the mother furnishes evidence and a statutory declaration that her spouse is not the father of the child, the registrar must make reasonable efforts to contact the spouse.
An tArd-Chláraitheoir may, in exceptional circumstances, direct a Superintendent Registrar to register a birth without the qualified informant signing the register.
The 2019 Act made amendments to civil registration legislation, including: provisions to make it less onerous on a woman to rebut automatic paternity of her estranged husband in registering a birth. It brought civil registration legislation into line with current legislation governing presumption of paternity and makes it less onerous on a mother to rebut automatic presumption of paternity of her husband in the birth registration process.
The 2019 Act provides for the inclusion of details of “Parent” in the required particulars to register a birth or stillbirth. This will facilitate both partners in a same-sex female relationship to have their particulars registered in the register of births.
Registration of particulars of “Mother” and “Father” will continue to be available. However, any parent may choose to register a birth as “Parent”, if they so wish.
Re-registration of birth
A mother may re-register the birth to include the name of the father on production of a statutory declaration and evidence to show that she has been living apart from her spouse during the 10 months immediately preceding the birth.
An tArd-Chláraitheoir may, in exceptional circumstances, direct a Superintendent Registrar to re-register a birth without a qualified informant signing the register.
Aa mother, father or a child may apply to re-register a birth on foot of a court order granted under section 35 or section 45 of the Status of Children Act, 1987.
The registrar will notify all persons with an interest or the person who is named as the father already on the register.
An tArd-Chláraitheoir may, in exceptional circumstances, direct a Superintendent Registrar to re-register a birth without the qualified informant signing the register.
Registration of surname
Where parents fail to agree on the surname to be registered a registrar may complete the registration by leaving the surname field blank or where a surname is already registered leaving that surname in place.
The 2014 Act provides for the subsequent registration of the surname.
Where the birth of a child is registered without a father’s name during the requisite period, a later application may be made to re-register the name on the same basis as above.
The consent of the superintendent registrar is required for reregistration. Where the mother was married at the requisite time or within 10 months before the birth, the above provisions apply.
The surname may be registered in accordance with below-mentioned provisions. Where the mother and father subsequently marry after the original registration, they may re-register the birth, in which event the surname may be re-registered.
A registrar may, on application by the parents or surviving parent or guardian and the production of sufficient evidence, re-register the forename of the child or add a forename to the entry. The existing entry is to be retained on the register.
Births Abroad in Transit
An application may be made to register the birth of a child outside the state to an Irish citizen domiciled in the state where there is not a system of registration of births in the place where the birth occurred or it is not possible to obtain copies and extracts on civil records of the birth.
Regulations require registration of the birth of:
- children born on an Irish or foreign ship or aircraft travelling to or from a port in the state
- a child born to a member of An Garda Síochána or the defence force while on service outside the state.
The 2019 Act provides for the inclusion of the forename and birth surname of a parent where a person born following donor-assisted human reproduction dies abroad and it is sought to have the death recorded on the record of deaths abroad.
Stillborn birth registration was introduced in 1994. A child is stillborn if he or she at birth weighs not less than 500 grams or has a gestational age of not less than 24 weeks and shows no sign of life.
The 2014 Act provides an extension of the period in which a stillbirth may be registered by removing the requirement to register a stillbirth within 12 months.
A parent – or a relative if both parents are dead within 12 months of the date of stillbirth – registers the particulars of the stillborn on the stillbirth register. The medical practitioner who attended the stillbirth shall, if requested, furnish particulars, including the estimated weight and gestational age of the child and the address of the institution.
If the stillbirth is not registered within 12 months, the health authority in the area in which the stillbirth took place may request the hospital or attending registered medical practitioner to give to the authority the required particulars.
Where these details are obtained, they may be registered. A coroner who ascertains that a body is that of a stillborn child must notify the registrar and give them such information as he can.
In the case of a stillbirth before the legislation commenced at the beginning of 1995, a parent or relative may register the stillbirth, provided they can give the requisite evidence to the superintendent registrar of the occurrence of the stillbirth.
It is the duty of the chief officer of a hospital or other institution in which a child is stillborn or the person to whom the authority is delegated to give the requisite information in relation to stillbirth.
Where a child is stillborn other than in a hospital or institution, the relevant doctor or midwife is obliged to notify the authority of the stillbirth. The authority is the relevant office of the Health Service Executive.
An officer of the adoption board must register the particulars of an adoption. If the date of birth is not known, it is to be estimated. It may later be rectified. If the adoption order itself is amended, the entry on the register is amended correspondingly.
A person who was adopted, has adopted a child outside the State or has an interest in the matter may apply to register a foreign adoption to the adoption board. It must be shown that the foreign adoption recognition legislation has been complied with.
The Board, on receipt of the required particulars relating to the adoption, registers the adoption in the manner as the superintendent general registrar directs. The applicant must furnish the Board with the requisite information and evidence as they require.
A certified copy of an entry on the register is deemed evidence of the foreign adoption and the foreign adoption order. An application may be made to the court in respect of entries of foreign adoptions on the register. The court, if it is satisfied with certain criteria, may order the board to vary the requisite entry or cancel it.
A court may not give a direction to set aside or nullify an adoption on the basis that consent has been revoked or set aside by the law of the place where it is effected unless the court is satisfied it is in the best interests of the person who has been adopted to do so.
Where a court grants an order to cancel an entry on the register, it shall make consequential directions as are necessary in the best interest of the person concerned, including orders in relation to guardianship, custody, maintenance and citizenship of such person.
Notice of the application may be directed to be made to certain public bodies, including the attorney general, the Board and the superintendent registrar, who may make submissions in relation to the application. Proceedings are not held in public.
No person other than a person authorised by the superintendent is entitled to make a search of an index relating to the register which makes traceable an entry in the registry of birth with the register of adoption. No information from the register or index is to be given without an order of the court or the board. The court does not make an order for discovery with respect to the production or copying of a document necessary to satisfy that it is in the best interest of the child concerned to do so.
Where the registrar fails or refuses to register a birth, stillbirth, death or marriage, a qualified informant, party to the marriage, or other relevant persons may request reasons for their refusal. If they are dissatisfied, they may lodge a notice of appeal to a designated appeals officer. A further appeal may be taken to the superintendent registrar. A further appeal is possible to the high court.
The registrar must issue a certificate being a certified copy of an entry in the registers available on payment of a fee. The fees are prescribed by law. Persons are entitled to search the registers.
An application may be made to correct the register on the application of an interested party. The application may be made to the superintendent registrar to correct any entry. Clerical errors may be corrected. Errors of fact would be corrected in furnishing with such evidence as the registrar deems adequate. Certain other provisions apply to other categories of error.
The superintendent registrar has the power to make enquiries as to whether a registration has been made and whether the particulars entered are correct. He may serve notice for information of persons who have information.
The superintendent registrar may give information on conditions to various parties, including information about passport applications, applications in relation to citizenship, social welfare applications, road traffic licenses, certain health programmes, social welfare eligibility and housing eligibility. The fees payable are published by law.
It is an offence to alter or change any information in a registry index. It is an offence to fail or refuse to register a birth, stillbirth, marriage or death where a person is obliged to do so.
A person may be subjected to conviction for an offence on summary conviction to a fine up to €2,000 or six months imprisonment or both. The minister may make, abstract and publish vital statistics.