How to register a stillbirth

This page will give you step-by-step guidance on what is required to register a stillbirth that took place in England or Wales. If you would rather speak to someone personally, please contact staff at Calderdale Register Office who will be able to give you further information.

What is the legal definition of a stillbirth?

A stillborn child is legally defined as a child born after the 24th week of pregnancy who did not show any signs of life after being born.

Note: 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.

Why is registration necessary?

Stillbirth registration began in 1927 to help protect infant life. As well as being an important source of historical and statistical information, it gives the parents the opportunity to have their child officially acknowledged and to give him or her names if they wish to.

Book an appointment

To register a stillbirth, contact Calderdale Register Office.

Who should register?

It all depends if the parents were married to each other at the time of the stillbirth or conception. If they were, then either the mother or father can register.

If the parents were not married, then who attends will depend on a number of factors:

  • If the mother wants the father's details to be entered in the register, then both parents can sign the stillbirth register together;
  • If the father is unable to go to the Register Office with the mother, but the mother still want his details included, then he can make a statutory declaration, which the mother must give to the Registrar. This declaration must be made before a justice of the peace, magistrate, commissioner for oaths, practising solicitor, notary public, licensed conveyancer, authorised advocate or authorised litigator, by one parent only;
  • If the mother is unable to go to the Register Office with the father, she may make a statutory declaration acknowledging the father's paternity, which the father must give to the Registrar. This declaration must be made before a justice of the peace, magistrate, commissioner for oaths, practising solicitor, notary public, licensed conveyancer, authorised advocate or authorised litigator, by one parent only.

The statutory declaration form is available from the Register Office.

If the father's details are not recorded in the stillbirth register, it may be possible for the stillbirth to be re-registered at a later date. Please contact the Register Office for details of this procedure.

Although parents register the majority of stillbirths, sometimes neither the mother nor father are able to attend. If this is the case then please contact the Register Office.

When and where do I go to register?

Stillbirths should normally be registered within 42 days. A stillbirth cannot be registered more than 3 months after it happened.

The stillbirth will normally be registered at the Register Office for the district in which it happened - or another one if it is more convenient. Remember that things take a bit longer if you go to an office out of the district. This is because the registrar will need to forward your information to the original district who will then post any certificates to you. Your midwife will normally tell you who to contact and may help you make an appointment to come in to the Register Office.

What documents do I need?

All you need to take is the medical certificate of stillbirth issued by the doctor or midwife present at the time (and a form 16 if you need one).

What information will I be asked for?

The registrar will ask for the following details:

Child

  • date and place of stillbirth;
  • the forenames and surname, if the parents wish to name the stillborn child;
  • the sex of the child.

Father

  • forename(s) and surname;
  • date and place of birth;
  • occupation.

Mother

  • forename (s) and surname;
  • maiden surname if the mother is, or has been, married;
  • date and place of birth;
  • occupation;
  • usual address at the time of the stillbirth;
  • date of marriage, if married to the still-born child's father at the time of the stillbirth;
  • number of previous children by the present husband and by any former husband.

It is very important that all the information recorded in the register is completely correct. Mistakes can take quite a bit of time and trouble to put right, so the person registering the stillbirth should check the information very carefully before signing the entry.

What documents will I be given?

You will be given a short certificate showing your baby's name and date of birth. You will also be given a form for the funeral director, both these forms are issued free of charge. If you wish to buy a full copy of the entry, there is a fee of £4.00.

How do I obtain a certificate for an historic stillbirth entry?

Due to the sensitive nature of stillbirth registrations, the procedure for ordering copy certificates differs from other types of certificates. Apart from very recent events, the General Register Office holds records of all stillbirths registered in England and Wales since 1 July 1927. Certified copies of these records can only be obtained with the Registrar General's consent. The following conditions apply:

  • A certificate will only be issued to the mother or father of a stillborn child (The father's details would need to be recorded in the register entry for him to be able to obtain a certificate).
  • Siblings may apply if their mother and father are no longer alive. They should send details of their parents' dates of death with their application.

Stillbirth certificates can only be obtained from the General Register Office in Southport.

If you want more information telephone or write to;

  • Username General Register Office (still births)
  • Email registering.still-births@ons.gov.uk
  • Telephone 0300 123 1837
  • Address
    General Register Office
    Room D209 Smedley Hydro
    Trafalgar Road
    Southport
    PR8 2HH

You can obtain information about how to register a stillbirth in Scotland or Northern Ireland by visiting their web sites.