Register a stillbirth

It is a time of great sadness when parents and families experience a stillbirth, and while it can be upsetting, registration is a legal requirement, so it is important you understand what you need to do. 

A stillborn child is legally defined as a child born after week 24 of a pregnancy, who did not, at any time after being born, breathe or show any other signs of life. A child who breathed or showed other signs of life is considered live-born for registration purposes, however many weeks into the duration of the pregnancy.

If you have any difficulties with English please let us know so we can arrange an interpreter for you. If you know someone who is willing to interpret for you please bring them with you.

When to register

Every stillbirth in England and Wales must be registered in the district where it took place and normally within 42 days. A stillbirth may not be registered more than three months after it occurred.

Where to register

You should register the stillbirth in the registration district where it took place. If you have any queries please contact the Register Office.

You should discuss the arrangements with your funeral director and the registrar to avoid any delays to the funeral.

Who can register

Married parents

If the parents of the child were married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, or of conception, either the mother or the father may make the registration.

Unmarried parents

If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, or of conception, information about the father may be entered in the register in the following circumstances:

  • The mother and father go to the register office and sign the register together
  • The father is unable to go to the register office with the mother but has made a statutory declaration acknowledging their paternity and given it, in person, in advance, to the registrar. This form may be obtained from any register office in England or Wales.
  • The mother is unable to go to the register office with the father, but has made a statutory declaration acknowledging their paternity and given it, in person, in advance, 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 to re-registered to include his details at a later date.

Can the baby's father register on his own?

He can if he was married to the mother at the time. If the couple were not married he cannot register on his own and we cannot enter the father’s details if he does not attend with the mother.

Someone else

Although the majority of stillbirths must be registered by the parents, sometimes neither the mother nor the father are able to do this. In these exceptional circumstances, the registrar will arrange for the registration to be completed by one of the following people, depending on who is best able:

  • the occupier of the house or hospital where the child was stillborn
  • a person who was present at the stillbirth
  • a person who is responsible for the stillborn child
  • the person who found the child, if the date and place of the stillbirth are unknown.

Information needed for registration

To register you will need the medical certificate of stillbirth from the hospital, your doctor or midwife. You will also be asked for the following information:

Baby

  • Date and place of your baby’s stillbirth
  • Sex of the baby
  • Forename(s) and surname if you wish to name the child

Mother

  • Forename(s) and surname
  • Maiden name if married or previously married
  • Date and place of birth
  • Usual home address at the time of the stillbirth
  • Occupation or details of last occupation
  • Date of marriage to the father if married at the time
  • Number of previous children

Father

If you choose to enter his details.

  • Forenames and surname
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation at the time of the birth, or details of last occupation

It is extremely important that the information recorded in the register is correct. The person completing the registration should check the information that is being recorded in the register very carefully before the entry is signed because mistakes are difficult to correct.

Certificates 

Certificate of registration

A certificate of registration will be issued free of charge to the person who completes the registration. This certificate provides proof that the stillbirth has been registered. Any names given to the child and entered in the register will be recorded on this certificate.

Stillbirth certificate

After a stillbirth 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 (provided he is recorded in the register). Applications for certificates from someone who is not the mother or father should be sent to the general register office stating the full details of the purpose for which the certificate is required. 

Certificate for burial or cremation

The registrar will also issue a certificate for burial or cremation on an official site. The certificate is normally passed to the funeral director who is making the arrangements. A funeral cannot take place until this certificate has been given to the burial authority or the crematorium. If there is a delay in the registration, it is possible to obtain a certificate for the burial before the stillbirth has been registered, provided it does not need to be reported to the coroner. A certificate for cremation however cannot be issued before the stillbirth has been registered.

Fees

A full certificate showing the parents’ details can be purchased at this time for a fee of £4 and ordered at the time of declaration. A short birth certificate is given to the parents at the time of declaration free of charge.

A list of all our fees can be found on the Register Office fees page.