Register a stillbirth
It is a time of great sadness when parents and families experience a stillbirth. Registration is a legal process so it is important you understand what is required. You must register the stillbirth in person and cannot ask a relative or friend to attend instead.
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 a stillbirth
A stillborn 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. 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.
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 can you register a stillbirth?
You should register the stillbirth in the registration district where it took place. If you have any queries please contact the Register Office.
The family should discuss the arrangements with their funeral director and the registrar to avoid any delays to the funeral.
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.
Who can register a stillbirth
The following people can register a stillbirth:
(i) Married parents
If the parents of the child were married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, or at the time of the conception, either the mother or the father may register with the registrar.
(ii) Unmarried parents
If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the stillbirth, or at the time of the conception, information about the father may only be entered in the register in the following circumstances:
- The mother and father go to the register office and sign the stillbirth register together
- If the father is unable to go to the register office with the mother then the father may make a statutory declaration acknowledging his paternity which the mother must give to the registrar. This form may be obtained from any register office in England or Wales.
- If the mother is unable to go to the register office with the father then the mother may make a statutory declaration acknowledging the father's paternity which the father must give 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.
(iii)Can the baby's father register the stillbirth 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.
Although the majority of stillbirths 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 one of the following people depending on who is best able to do this:
- 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 stillborn child, if the date and place of the stillbirth are unknown.
What information is 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:
- Date and place of your baby’s stillbirth
- Sex of the baby
- Forename(s) and surname if you wish to name the child
Father (if his details are to be entered)
- Forenames and surname
- Date and place of birth
- Occupation at the time of the birth, or details of last occupation
- 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
It is extremely important that the information recorded in the stillbirth register is correct. The person registering the stillbirth should check the information that is being recorded in the register very carefully before the entry is signed because mistakes in the register are difficult to correct.
(i) Certificate of registration
A certificate of registration will be issued free of charge to the person who registers the stillbirth. This certificate provides proof that the stillbirth has been registered. Any names given to the stillborn child and entered in the register will be recorded on the certificate of registration.
(ii) 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 that the father's details are also 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. The contact details for the general register office can be found below.
(iii) Certificate for burial or cremation
The registrar will also issue a certificate for the burial or cremation of the stillborn child on an official burial or cremation 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.