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A birth certificate is required, for passport purposes, as evidence of a person’s name, date and place of birth. A full birth certificate is normally required for applicants:
- Born outside the United Kingdom
- Born in the United Kingdom after 31 December 1982
Copies of certificates for applicants born in England and Wales can be obtained from the Superintendent Registrar of the district in which the individual was born, or from the General Register Office, Southport. For applicants born in Scotland, Northern Ireland, or the Irish Republic copies of certificates can be obtained from the local Registrar for the district in which the birth was registered or from the office of the relevant Registrar General.
If an applicant requests the return of any of the documents before issue, examiners may do this on a case by case basis but should consider potential courses of action for the application as a whole before returning such documents. A case note should also be completed when any requests or actions are carried out and a signed statement requesting the return of the document received and scanned.
For births in the UK after 31.12.82 and before 01.07.06 where the claim is through the father, the parents’ marriage certificate must also be produced.
Obtaining copies of birth certificates for persons born overseas
Applicants born overseas who do not submit a birth certificate should be advised to seek to obtain a copy of their birth certificate from either the local Registrar’s Office in the country of birth, or through the relevant Embassy or High Commission Office.
Replacing lost birth certificates
Requests for the replacement of birth certificates lost within the Passport Office or in the post when being returned to the applicant should be made by the Central Customer Service Team in line with the process set out on the page.
Copies of birth certificates held at British Consulates
A certified copy of an entry in a Register of Births held at a British Consulate was historically accepted as evidence of British Nationality in their own right. Following a Reform Order issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), consular birth registrations for children born since 01/01/1983 and certified copied of registrations issued after 01/01/2014 for children born before 01/01/1983 are no longer considered as nationality documents. This means that additional proof of a nationality claim must also be supplied.
As of 01/09/2014 ‘consular birth certificates’ issued for registrations after 01/01/1983 or certified copies of pre 01/01/1983 births issued after 01/01/2014 are no longer accepted by HM Passport Office as evidence of British Nationality or proof of personal/parental details for children born outside the UK. A foreign birth certificate as well as full evidence of a legitimate claim by decent must be provided as for any other birth overseas.
For any child born outside of England and Wales, the birth should be registered in accordance with the legal requirements of the country in which the birth occurred and certificates should be able to be obtained from the relevant local authority.
Registering an overseas birth at a Consulate or British High Commission is not a mandatory requirement and as such there is no legislative imposed time frame. Therefore, a child registered at a local register office of the country of birth may be registered at a Consulate or British High Commission years later in accordance with the provisions governing the registration of such births (in the case of Consul/High Commission registrations, the British Nationality Act 1981 and the Registration of Overseas Births and Deaths Regulations 2014). The child must, for the purpose of the registration be British at the time of its birth.
Births registered at a Consulate or British High Commission are likely to have been first registered at the local register office (or equivalent) according to the requirements of the country of birth and the details recorded in the register kept at the Consulate or British High Commission will be that of the birth parents. The entry in the register held by the Consulate or British High Commission should reflect that of the original entry contained in the register held at the local register office of the country of birth. There is no provision to register adoptions in the register held under the 1981 Act and the 2014 Regulations.
In normal circumstances the length of time between the date of birth and the registration should not be interpreted as significant given that parents can register at any time following the birth.
In rare cases where a customer holds no foreign birth certificate at all, they must be treated as if their birth has not been registered and other evidence requested as per the section below.
Copies of entries of birth overseas made in the British Army and Air Force registers and in the Foreign Register of Births at Edinburgh should not be accepted as establishing anything other than the place and date of birth and particulars of parentage.
Adoption certificates for those who were adopted in England and Wales can be obtained from the Adopted Children Register at the GRO.
A certified copy of an entry in the Adopted Children Register for an applicant adopted by an order made before 1 January 1950 may be accepted as evidence of British Subject status at the time of adoption. Adoption Certificates or Adoption Orders issued on or after that date should not be accepted as evidence of British Nationality unless it is clear from the documentation that the applicant was a British Subject or British Citizen before adoption.
A short adoption certificate in respect of an applicant who was the subject of an adoption order before 1 April 1959 will show the country of birth only. After that date an adoption certificate will show the district and sub-district of birth of an adopted child; if not, the application should be referred to a line manager.
Certificate of registry of birth
A certificate of registry of birth is unsuitable for passport purposes if the name of the child to whom it refers is not recorded. In such cases the applicant should be advised to obtain a new birth certificate.
Persons born at sea and on aircraft
Before 1 January 1983, birth aboard a British ship or aircraft registered in the United Kingdom or a Dependent Territory conferred British Nationality. Under the provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981 British Citizenship or British Dependent Territories Citizenship is not automatically acquired simply by birth on a United Kingdom or Dependent Territory registered ship or aircraft. A person can be deemed to have been born in the United Kingdom only if either the mother or father was a British Citizen at the time of the birth, and the aircraft or ship (including hovercraft) was registered in the United Kingdom.
NOTE: This also applies to a person born on an unregistered ship or aircraft belonging to the United Kingdom government.
Any applicant born on a British registered ship or hovercraft should be advised that birth certificates and copies may be obtained from the Marine section of the Department of Transport.
For those born on British registered aircraft, the birth is registered in the normal way at Register Offices in the United Kingdom.
NOTE: An applicant born after 1 January 1983 on an aircraft, ship, or hovercraft registered overseas would not have a claim to British citizenship unless either of the parents were British citizens at the time of the birth. If this applied the individual would have a claim to British citizenship by descent.
When people gain status in this way, the correct procedure is to show their place of birth as AT SEA and the Country of birth as UK.
Birth not registered
Where an applicant is unable to provide a birth certificate and there is a plausible explanation, discretion may be used in accepting other documents providing birth details. This discretion should be exercised carefully and account taken on the overall ‘feeling’ of the application. Acceptable documents for this purpose may be:
- a baptismal certificate (provided the baptism took place in early childhood)
- a letter from the applicant’s doctor at the time of birth or the first/primary school attended, which provides confirmation of identity; AND,
- a letter from the GRO in the UK, stating there is no trace of the birth having been registered together with evidence that the birth was likely to be in the United Kingdom.
- Overseas, a letter from the appropriate issuing authority where the birth occurred confirming there is no trace of the birth being registered together with alternative evidence that the birth occurred in the country claimed.
The principle aim is for the applicant to produce some document as near as possible to the date of birth indicating that birth was likely to have been in the country specified.
If the applicant is unable to produce any of the above (for example the parents were “travellers” during the applicant’s childhood) this would not necessarily preclude the issue of a passport. On an exceptional basis, applications may be considered provided they are accompanied by a Statutory Declaration which has been made by either the applicant or by someone who has personal knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the applicant’s birth. In the latter case, it can be expected the person making the declaration should have been old enough at the time of the birth to realise what was happening, have a reasonably reliable memory, and there is no reason to believe they will be untruthful.
It is usual for such declarations to be made by older members of the family and this is acceptable to Her Majesty’s Passport Office. If the declaration has, however, been made by the applicant, it needs to be supported by other documentation such as a medical card, driving licence, Social Security papers or any educational diplomas/certificates which would help to verify identity.
A letter from the GRO (or similar) stating there is no trace of the birth having been registered is required in all cases where the applicant claims their birth has not been registered.
Overseas cases should be considered taking into account alternative evidence.
Late registration of births
Under the provisions of section 17 of the 1965 Act a birth cannot be registered more than three months from the date of birth of the child without the Registrar Generals authority.
A birth may be registered more than one year after the event if the Registrar General is satisfied by documentary evidence of the precise date and place of birth.
Re-registration of births
In some circumstances a childs name can be changed by re-registering the birth.
The General Register Office (GRO) has confirmed that there are no time limits for re-registration of births and upon re-registration the name can be changed. Re-registration can usually take place under one of the following criteria:
- To include natural father’s details
- Where the natural parents subsequently marry each other
England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Where the parents have not married each other, and the mother initially registers the birth without any father’s particulars, both parents can then apply to re-register the birth to include the father’s details at a later date. This would take place under section 10a of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. A change of surname for the child in the new registration is possible if both parents agree. If the child is aged 16 or over, the childs agreement is also necessary. GRO would also make further enquiries to ascertain whether any court order is in existence to prohibit a change of surname.
If the parents are not married to each other, the birth may initially be registered either by the mother alone or on the joint information of both parents. Upon their marriage the parents should apply to re-register the birth to show the child as a child of their marriage. This would take place under section 14 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953. Re-registration of a birth upon the parents’ marriage has been possible in England and Wales since 1927. GRO would also make further enquiries to ascertain whether any court order preventing any change to the childs surname, otherwise the conditions are as set out in the above paragraph. Examiners should be aware that it is the subsequent marriage of the parents that legitimates the birth and not the re-registration itself.
The legal advisors team for GRO have stated that the childs surname may only be changed to:
1) The father’s surname
2) The mother’s surname
3) A combination of the two
4) The mother’s maiden surname or,
A relevant surname where the parents follow a different cultural custom.
On occasions a re-registration will be offered when the incorrect father has been initially registered as father. If it is then proven to the Registrar Generals satisfaction that the originally named man is not the natural father, a correction is then made to the birth entry to effectively remove his details. Following this, the way is then clear for the mother and the natural father to apply to re-register the birth to include his details as father. In most of these cases the father will gain parental responsibility. However, where the certificate shows that the birth was registered/ re-registered pursuant to Sections 14A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 on the authority of the Registrar General, noted at sections 11/12 of the certificate, the father will not gain parental responsibility. But please note that he may have gained it another way such as subsequent marriage or court order. Parental responsibility cannot be confirmed with such a certificate alone.
Mothers whose details have not previously been included on a child’s birth certificate may also apply to have the birth re-registered with their details under this provision of the Act. The restrictions on parental responsibility still apply. In any other cases where there is a notation that the birth has been re-registered following a court order, the case should be referred to the Policy Team for advice on parental responsibility.
In all cases when a re-registration has been affected the words On the authority of the Registrar General are displayed after the date of registration on the full birth certificate.
In Scotland re-registration takes place under section 20 of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriage (Scotland) Act 1965. Any person whose birth, adoption, parental order or whose entry in the Gender Recognition Register was made in Scotland can have changes in forename or surname recorded in the Register.
Any birth certificate issued subsequent to the recording of a change of name will show the new and original names; the new name will be shown as either a marginal note or at the bottom of a new certificate. A change of name may be registered more than once, and each time the old name will be crossed out and the new name included as described above (unless the change of name is for a child under the age of 12 months).
For children under the age of 12 months only one change in forename and one change in surname can occur. Where a change occurs for children under the age of 12 months the old name will not appear on the new certificate.
For children aged 1 to 16 years only one change in forename and one in surname can occur.
Note: any reference to forenames also includes middle names.
Where both parents hold parental responsibility both parents must agree to the re-registration. Where neither parent holds parental responsibility a person who has parental responsibility may apply.
For people over 16 years one change in forename and three changes in surname may be recorded however a period of 5 years must elapse between each change of surname.
Changes in forename(s) or surname(s) may also be recorded if:
- A decree or certificate of change of name is granted by the Lyon King of Arms
- A will/settlement/deed of trust demands a change in name from the holder’s birth name
- Where the alternative forename(s) or surname(s) is the Anglicised version of a non-English name, (e.g. Gaelic), the alternative name may be shown alongside the original name. For example: Domhnall (Donald)
Obtaining birth details from the Ministry of Defence
Where an applicant’s birth was registered on a Forces birth certificate while the father was serving overseas, a copy of the father’s birth certificate and the parents’ marriage certificate is required to confirm a claim to British citizenship through the father’s birth in the United Kingdom.
Where the applicants father was in HM Forces at the time of their birth overseas, but the applicant is unable to obtain the necessary birth and/or marriage certificates, consideration may be given to accepting alternative evidence in the form of British Army Records. Each application should be treated on its merits and the reason the documents are unavailable considered.
If the father was serving in the Royal Air Force, at the time of the applicant’s birth overseas, the applicant should be advised that confirmation of the father’s birth and parents’ marriage details can be obtained from Department PMSN 4A2B, RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire. Where the father was serving in the Army, the records held at the Ministry of Defence, Government Buildings, Bourne Avenue, Hayes, Middlesex, UB3 1RF may be of assistance in providing evidence of nationality.
NOTE: When making a request to check service records the applicant’s full name, father’s full name and details of where he enlisted must be provided to the records office. Other details such as service number, regiment, rank on discharge, and final year of discharge is helpful.
Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1965
This Act applies to those born or adopted in Scotland only, and provides for the correction of clerical errors, and for any name changes (both surnames and forenames) from 05 August 1965. When a birth certificate is issued in a new name it also records the old name (the new name will be shown at the top and the original name at the bottom of the document).
The certificate showing both names is acceptable for passport purposes as evidence of change of name.
Registration of Overseas Births and Deaths Regulations 1982
The 1982 Births and Deaths Regulations which came into effect on 1 January 1983, provided for the registration of births at British Consulates and High Commissions of children who are British Citizens, British Dependent Territories Citizens, and British Overseas Citizens. Birth certificates issued under these regulations were historically accepted as evidence of a holder’s claim to citizenship in their own right.
As of 01/09/2015 ‘consular birth certificates’ issued for registrations after 01/01/1983 or certified copies of registrations of pre 01/01/1983 births issued after 01/01/2014 are no longer accepted by HM Passport Office as evidence of British Nationality or proof of personal/parental details for children born outside Her Majesty’s Dominions since 01/01/1983. A foreign birth certificate as well as full evidence of a legitimate claim by decent must be provided as for any other birth overseas.
NOTE: Registration under the Regulations is not undertaken in: Ascension Islands, Canada, Bermuda, Australia, Cayman Islands, Christmas Islands, Falkland Islands, Nevis, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Nauru, St Helena, South Africa, Turks and Caicos, Virgin Islands, and the Republic of Ireland.
Registration of births in Commonwealth Countries
The Registration of Births and Deaths (High Commission) Regulations 1964 provided for the registration of births of persons of the second generation born in a Protected State where there was no jurisdiction over British Subjects at the time. Certificates were issued by High Commission Offices and, while they do not prove British nationality, if a certificate gives details of a valid claim to citizenship, this can be accepted for passport purposes.
An applicant whose parents have not been married to one another will be indicated by the absence of the father’s surname on the certificate or by the signature of the two parents. In such cases the applicant should be referred to the Nationality Group for advice on the possibility of obtaining British citizenship.
Baptismal certificates issued in Quebec
A Baptismal certificate issued by the Province of Quebec which give full details of the applicant’s birth may be accepted in lieu of a birth certificate.
Certification of birth (baptism) in former British India
Applicants should be advised that copies of the above certificates, or photocopies of original entries, can be obtained from the Oriental and India Office. These are acceptable in lieu of certificates of civil registration.
India Records Office
The British Library
Asia Pacific& Africa Collections
96 Euston Road
Changes to birth, death and stillborn certificates
England and Wales
On the 13th November 2006 the Birth and Death Regulations 1987 were amended to introduce a new format for corrections to birth, death and still-birth entries. The new procedures relate to all entries including those made before 1st April 1969 when the format of the birth entry changed from landscape to portrait.
Incorrect information will no longer be struck through or underlined. Similarly, omitted information will no longer be inserted and underlined, nor will carets be used to indicate omissions. All the information about correction will be contained in a new form of marginal note which will be shown at the bottom of the certificate. GRO have confirmed that in a very small number of cases, amendments were made after the 13th November in the old style. If there is any doubt about a manual amendment made after that date, GRO should be consulted.
These marginal notes can take the following form:
“In space [or column] …… ……………. corrected to ……… on ………. by me ……. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar]”
“In space [or column] …… …………….. corrected to ……… on ………. by me ……. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] in the presence of ……….. “
“In space [or column] …… …………….. corrected to ……… on ………. by me ……. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] in the presence of ……….. on the authority of the Registrar General “
“In space [or column] ….. ……………… corrected to ……. on …….. by me ……. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] on the authority of the Registrar General”
“In space [or column] ….. for ………. read……… corrected on………. by me ….. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar]”
“In space [or column] ….. for ………. read……… corrected on ……….. by me ….. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] in the presence of ………. “
“The particulars in ……. and ……… inadvertently transposed”
“In space [or column] …. ………. should read ……… Corrected on…….. by me ……. Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] on production of a statutory declaration made by ……….. and ………..”
“The details recorded for father in spaces ……… removed. Details in spaces ……. should read ……… Corrected on by me ………Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] on production of a statutory declaration made by ……….. and ………”
"”The details recorded for father in spaces ……… removed. Details in spaces ……. should read ……… Corrected on by me ……… Registrar [or Superintendent Registrar] on production of a statutory declaration made by ……….. and evidence of a finding of paternity made under ………… of ……….. in ……….. Court on …………”
GRO have also introduced a new on-line computer system for registering births and deaths in local register offices in England and Wales. The changes enable corrected records, in the form of certificates, to be printed from the computer system. The new system was piloted in a number of registration districts before being introduced nationally on Monday 26th March 2007. Certificates printed from the system, either at the local register office or at the General Register Office will contain a nine-digit system number in the margin at the bottom.
Full certificates relating to births or deaths which occurred in Wales printed from this computer system will be double-sided A4 documents. The reverse of the document is a continuation of the registration details. If a correction is made to a birth or death record which occurred in Wales, the marginal note of correction will only appear on the reverse of the certificate. As the incorrect information is not highlighted in the body of the entry, care should be taken when looking at a Welsh certificate that has been photocopied for administrative purposes.
The General Register Office for Northern Ireland has informed us that they are currently in the process of digitising their civil registration records. This will include scanning and indexing paper-based records and integrating the scanned images with their current Registration & Certification Modernisation system. It is intended that all certificates will be produced from the scanned images. This will improve the efficiency of the certificate production process and help to protect the records. In some cases where the hand-written entry is illegible, or an amendment has been made, the certificates will continue to be typed.
As a result, the format of the certificates will change so that all certificates produced will be in A4 format. Birth and death certificates for events registered in Northern Ireland between 1864 and September 1973, adoptions registered between 1931 and 2002 and marriage certificates from 1845 to 2003 are currently produced on landscape B4 size paper, (250mm 353mm or 9.8in 13.9in). From May 2010, for those births registered before October 1973, the certificate will appear in landscape format on A4 paper and for those births registered from October 1973 onwards the certificates will continue to appear in portrait format on A4 paper.
The certificate paper used will retain the same colours and security features as the current certificate paper, but the watermark will be repeated to allow printing on either portrait or landscape format.
Any certificates produced before May 2010 in B4 format are still valid documents and customers are not required to obtain an A4 copy.
The next stage of the digitisation project will be to scan all death registrations from 1864 to September 1973. It is intended that the production of these certificates on A4 paper will commence by the end of 2010. The final registration records to be migrated to A4 format will be the marriage registrations from 1845 to 2003. It is intended that these records will be produced in A4 format from spring 2011.
Timetable of changes:
|Registration type||Date of change from B4 to A4 format|
|Births and Adoptions||May 2010|
|Deaths||End of December 2010|
United States adoption and birth certificates
A recent case was highlighted where there was a United States “birth certificate” that did not indicate the child was adopted.
Staff dealing with such certificates should:
- Compare the date the birth was registered to that of the childs date of birth.
- If the birth was registered more than three months after the birth, discreet enquiries should be made to the person making the application to explain the discrepancy between these dates.
Please note that this procedure may only be adopted when status is in doubt.
All cases of doubt should be referred to an HEO or above for a decision to be made or for consultation with a member of the Policy Team.
The Adoption Policy makes it clear that this situation is not unique to the United States and care is required when reviewing any overseas certificates for evidence that may indicate the document relates to an adoption certificate rather than a birth certificate.
Full Birth Certificates Introduction
This document details the Full Birth Certificate policy.
The aim of this policy is to set out the requirements for the documents needed by applicants born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 who are applying for a passport for the first time. It is not intended to provide guidance on the authenticity of documents submitted.
For Her Majesty’s Passport Office purposes, to ensure consistency with Registration Services and General Register Office (GRO), and for clarity to the customer, the Long Birth Certificate will be referred to as a Full Birth Certificate (FBC). AMS letter texts have been updated to reflect the change.
All applications for a first passport for a person born on or after 1.1.83 must be submitted with a full birth (FBC) or adoption (FAC) certificate together with documentary evidence of their claim to British nationality. Section 4 of the application form must be fully complete. In addition, where the applicant’s parents were also born after 31.12.82, or born overseas, the grandparents details should be shown at section 8. (But see below for further information.)
Where a short birth certificate (SBC) or short adoption certificate (SAC) has been submitted with the application, or where no birth or adoption certificate has been submitted, a full version of the certificate providing details of parentage must be requested. An adoption order may be accepted where the order provides full details of the parent from whom national status is derived.
This guidance explains what information can be found on a FBC/FAC and how HM Passport Office examiners may interpret the information in conjunction with the details provided on the application form.
It also standardises the way place of birth in the UK is shown in a passport.
First time passport applicants are required to produce documentary evidence of their nationality to show they are entitled to hold a British passport.
British nationality is defined by the British nationality Act 1981 (as amended) which came into force on 1 January 1983. Before commencement of the Act, birth in the UK is sufficient to confer British nationality, except those born to a male, foreign diplomat serving in (accredited to) a diplomatic mission in the UK for an overseas government. Those born in the UK to a foreign male diplomat are not eligible for British nationality under UK law.
After 31.12.82, birth in the UK is not enough to establish British nationality. Those born in the UK on or after 1.1.1983 will only have a claim to British nationality if they have a natural parent who is a British citizen or settled in the UK. Alternatively, a person born in the UK on or after 1.1.83 may have a claim to British citizenship if adopted in the UK and one of the adoptive parents is a British citizen. An amendment to the British Nationality Act 1981 allows for children to also gain British citizenship if adopted by British citizens under the Hague Convention on or after 1 June 2003.
British citizens born in the UK will be otherwise than by descent irrespective of how they gain their citizenship.
Before 1 July 2006, the relationship between father and child shall be taken to exist only between a man and any legitimate child born to him. On or after this date, the father is defined under section 50 of the Act as either
a) the husband of the childs mother (if they are married at the time of the childs birth) or
b) the man treated as the father under section 28 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (that is the husband of the woman carrying the child) or if neither a) or b) apply
c) any man who can satisfy certain prescribed requirements as to proof of paternity.
Applicants born after 31.12.82 who do not have a claim to British citizenship through their parents or adoptive parents may have an entitlement to register as a British Citizen.
In order to consider a claim under c) only a birth certificate naming the father can be accepted by HM Passport Office staff as proof of paternity without reference to IND Nationality Group. Any application where alternative evidence is provided must be referred to the Policy Team to consult Nationality Group.
From 6 April 2009 the definition of parent for nationality purposes under section 50 will be as follows:
the mother is the woman who gives birth to the child, and
the father is either:
(a) the mothers husband, if any at the time of the childs birth,
(b) any person who is treated as the father under section 35 or 36 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 or
(ba) a woman who is treated as a parent of the child under section 42 or 43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 (second female parent), or
(c) if none of the above applies, a person who is proved to be the father by production of either
(i) a birth certificate identifying him as such, and issued by the competent registration authority within 12 months of the birth of the child, or
(ii) such other evidence, such as a DNA test report or court order as may satisfy the Secretary of State.
From the 10th of September 2015, the birth certificate will become one of the documents that are taken into consideration to establish paternity but can be discounted if there is other information to suggest that another man is in fact the child’s natural father
Applicants born after 31.12.82 who do not have a claim to British citizenship through their parents or adoptive parents may have an entitlement to register as a British citizen.
On 21st January 2004 a press notice and Ministerial Statement were issued stating that as of 4th May 2004 the shortened form of birth certificate, which omits the names of parents, will no longer be acceptable evidence of nationality for the purpose of applying for a British passport in the UK. From 3 January 2005, all first-time applications for those born on or after 1 January 1983 must be supported by additional documents to establish their nationality as detailed below.
The new policy brings HM Passport Office in line with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) passport issuing posts and those in the Islands where the production of an FBC has been a requirement for a number of years.
Since the Ministerial statement and press notice, extensive consultation of all interested parties has been undertaken. Also, Post Office Ltd, General Register Offices (GRO) Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales were consulted about communicating the change of policy to their customers and to assess the probable impact on their operation.
The guidance notes in the passport application form pack have been updated to reflect the change of policy and have been in circulation since 1 April 2004. Regional registrar’s offices were provided with flyers and posters to advertise the change in HM Passport Office policy and registrars have agreed to encourage parents to obtain a FBC for their children at the time of registration.
First time applications for those born on or after 1.1.83 must be supported by a FBC. There will be no deviation to this policy unless the applicant has acquired British citizenship through registration or naturalisation.
Where the applicant has acquired British Citizenship through registration or naturalisation, their certificate showing the applicant is a British national will be sufficient to establish British nationality. It will be unnecessary for the applicant to provide a birth certificate as well as their nationality certificate as the details must be taken from the nationality certificate.
Where the applicant submits a FBC with an application for a first passport, national status and parental responsibility will be determined from the information about parentage contained on the birth certificate and on the passport application form.
Where the applicant submits a SBC or no birth certificate with an application for a first passport, a FBC showing details of parentage must be requested.
The call centre and passport website will advise customers that HM Passport Office requires a FBC for first time applications for those born on or after 1 January 1983. Where the applicant indicates that s/he does not have a FBC, s/he will be advised that a FBC will be required and will be told how to obtain one.
Details shown on a full birth certificate
FBCs issued in Northern Ireland show full name, place and date of birth of the person registered, and the names of the parent(s).
FBCs issued in England and Wales have shown the full name, place and date of birth of the registered person, and the names of the parent(s). Since 1 April 1969, FBCs have also shown the places of birth of the parent(s). FBCs issued before that date do not show the parents’ places of birth.
FBCs issued in Scotland show the full name, place and date of birth of the registered person, the names of the parent(s) and the date of the parents’ marriage.
In all cases, where the birth is illegitimate both parents have to register the birth if the father’s details are to be included on the certificate. It will be clear from the FBC if the parents were not married at the time of the birth, as both parents’ signature/names will appear on the certificate. This does not necessarily mean that both parents have parental responsibility.
Where a replacement birth certificate has been issued on the authority of the Registrar General this usually means there has been an amendment made to the original record. Care should be exercised in these cases and the applicant should be checked against the main index in all surnames shown on the birth certificate.
Confirming parental responsibility using a FBC
Where the FBC shows the names of both parents, the document is signed by one parent only, and the passport application form shows the parents date of marriage the examiner may be confident that both parents have parental responsibility.
Where a FBC issued in Northern Ireland shows that the father has jointly registered the child’s birth with the mother and the registration took place on or after 15 April 2002, both parents have parental responsibility regardless of whether they are married to each other.
Where a FBC issued in England and Wales shows that the father has jointly registered the child’s birth with the mother, and the registration took place on or after 1 December 2003, both parents have parental responsibility regardless of whether they are married to each other, or whether the father is later found not to be the father.
Where a FBC issued in England and Wales shows that the father has jointly registered the child’s birth with the mother and the registration took place before 1 December 2003, the father will not automatically have parental responsibility unless he has acquired it by a parental responsibility agreement or order or has subsequently married the mother.
Where a birth is jointly registered in Scotland before 4 May 2006, parental responsibility is not acquired automatically by an unmarried father. However, from 4 May 2006, an unmarried father will gain parental responsibility and rights for his child born and registered in Scotland if both parents register the childs birth together and both of their names appear on the birth certificate. It is not necessary for both parents to be at the registration office at the time the birth is registered as long as the parent registering the birth has written authorisation from the other to do so and certain forms are completed.
Where the passport application form indicates that the parents have not married and only the mother’s details are shown on the FBC it should not be automatically assumed that the father does not have parental responsibility. In cases where the father has made the application examiners should not request consent to passport facilities from the mother unless satisfied that the father has not acquired parental responsibility in some other way. Where the father has signed the declaration at section 9 he has indicated that he does have parental responsibility for the child named at section 2. If it is not clear from the FBC or the passport application form how parental responsibility was acquired the examiner should investigate and ask for documentary evidence to prove the claim. The evidence will normally take the form of a parental responsibility agreement or order.
Confirming national status using a FBC
Section 1 BNA’81 confirms that a person born in the United Kingdom on or after 1.1.83 will be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother is -
- A British citizen (Section 1(1)(a) or
- Settled in the United Kingdom (Section 1(1)(b) or
- from 13 January 2010 a member of the armed forces (Section 1(1A))
For people born on or after 1.1.83 in the UK, a full birth or adoption certificate is required showing parents or adoptive parents details. In addition to the full birth or adoption certificate, the examiner must establish the parents’ nationality. In most cases it will be easiest to establish the claim through the applicant’s mother. However, examiners will need to look at the information provided and the circumstances of each case individually and decide which will be the simplest route. (This will be based on the documents provided, whether both parents have a British passport, the parents place of birth, what documents may be easily obtained and so on.)
A full adoption order may also be accepted where it gives full details of the adoptive parent from whom the nationality is derived. When establishing the claim through the adoptive parent, it should be remembered that the parent must be a British citizen, but the marital status of the adoptive parents is not relevant.
Where the claim is through the father, the persons named on the birth certificate must have been married to each other at the time of the birth or subsequently and the marriage certificate must be provided. For children born on or after 1 July 2006, section 47 of the British Nationality Act (BNA) no longer has any effect; a marriage that takes place after the birth has no effect on the childs nationality. In such cases proof of paternity as described in paragraph 5 above would be needed to establish a nationality claim depending on the father. However, a child born before 1 July 2006 may still be legitimated if his or her parents later marry (even if the marriage takes place after 1 July 2006).
Where the applicant is born before 1 July 2006, their claim is through the father, and where the parents were married after the applicants birth the application must be referred to the appropriately trained team member to consider whether or not the applicant was legitimated by the parents subsequent marriage.
From the 10th of September 2015, the birth certificate will become one of the documents that are taken into consideration to establish paternity but can be discounted if there is other information to suggest that another man is in fact the child’s natural father.
The examiner should compare the details shown on the FBC with the information provided at sections 2 and 4 of the application form.
Where the parent from whom the claim is derived holds a UK passport issued before the child was born, details of the passport at section 4 may be accepted to establish the parent was a British Citizen. Care must be taken to resolve any warnings relating to the parent’s passport. The result of all actions must be case noted.
Where the parent from whom the claim is derived is born overseas or after 31.12.82 in the UK and holds a UK passport issued after the child was born, details of the passport at section 4, together with the grandparents’ details are needed in order to clearly see how the parent acquired their nationality. Care must be taken to resolve any warnings relating to the parents’ passport. The result of all actions must be case noted.
Where the parent from whom the applicant acquires his nationality is an Irish citizen, it will be necessary for the parent to prove his nationality. An Irish passport, Irish birth certificate or an identification card issued by HM Passport Offcie will be acceptable. Under Irish nationality, those born in Ireland before 1 January 2005 will usually be Irish. A birth certificate showing birth in Southern Ireland before 1 January 2005 will be acceptable as evidence that the parent is an Irish citizen. Unless there is evidence to doubt otherwise, it may be accepted that the parent is normally resident.
The system should not routinely be checked for parents’ statuses as too many main index checks may slow down the system and the onus is on the applicant to provide the required documentation, however there are exceptions where the system can be checked, the majority of which are in the interest resolving errors:
Where the application is in respect of lost or stolen passport
No system checks should be completed on the applicants behalf where the passport in question has been lost or stolen. Documents must be provided by the applicant.
where a claim is by descent and the applicant was born abroad, the parents passport details must be checked.
Other cases where the parents UK passport issued after the child was born supplied
In these cases, the case notes on the passport supplied must be checked for the number of the previous passport. If this is included it can be checked on MI and where the parent can be identified from the photograph and the personal details agree, the status can be taken from that passport and case noted accordingly.
Other cases where the parents UK passport number issued after the child was born supplied
In these cases, the case notes on the passport supplied must be checked for the number of the previous passport. If this is included it can be checked on MI and where the personal details agree the status can be taken from that passport and case noted accordingly.
Also, in exceptional circumstances some discretion may be used. For example if an error has been made resulting in a number of queries to the applicant which has failed to establish the status of the intended passport holder.
Where the grandparents details have been included but do not provide a clear indication on how the parent acquired their nationality, the parents’ passport may be checked against the main index or G:Search as these cases should be few.
Full birth certificates policy - marriage certificates
The full birth certificate policy was fully implemented on 3 January 2005. The policy was launched to make sure that all those born in the UK after 31.12.1982 have a valid claim to British citizenship by introducing the need for an individual to provide documents in support of their claim.
A number of cases have come to light where the parents’ marriage date has been added to the application form, but later information has cast doubt on the information and/or documents provided.
For applicants born before 1 July 2006, when the claim to British nationality is through the father, the father must be married to the mother at the time of the persons birth or subsequently. Where the parents marry after the date of birth of the child, this must be referred to an appropriately trained team member as a case of possible legitimation.
When establishing nationality through an applicant’s father the parents’ marriage certificate must be requested when the applicant is born before 1 July 2006 if it is not already sent in. (Our Information Leaflet, web site and our partners already ask for the marriage certificate).
Where the parents were married in the UK, the marriage certificate must be checked to ensure the date of marriage was before the childs birth and that the marriage certificate is issued by the civil authorities in the UK. (A religious ceremony at a mosque or church is not valid unless the person and premises are authorised to perform marriages according to UK regulations, in which case the marriage certificate will show that it is in pursuant to the Marriage Act.) A religious marriage certificate, showing marriage in the UK only is not acceptable on its own as evidence of a valid marriage unless accompanied by a marriage certificate that shows it is in pursuant to the Marriage Act.
Where the applicant is born before 1 July 2006, their claim is through the father, and the parents were married after the applicants birth the application must be referred to the appropriately trained team member to consider whether or not the applicant was legitimated by the parents’ subsequent marriage.
Where the parents were married overseas, the marriage certificate must be produced, together with an official translation if necessary.
Note: The official translation must be affixed to the original document and certified as a true translation of the marriage certificate attached. Examiners are reminded that an official translation must be made by a translator registered with an official organisation such as the Institute of Linguists or the Institute of Translation & Interpreting. A translator who is employed by a recognised Translation company the later being a member of the Association of Translation Companies is also acceptable.
Applicants who claim they are unable to provide a marriage certificate from overseas must be advised to contact the Embassy or High Commission for the country concerned for help in obtaining a certified copy of the marriage from the official record in the country concerned.
Where the authorities in the country concerned have been unable to trace a record of the marriage, or there are doubts about the authenticity of the marriage certificate produced, Statutory Declarations must be followed.
Where the applicant is born after 30 June 2006 and their claim is through the father, a marriage certificate is not needed as the claim is not dependent on the descent being legitimate. Provided the applicants full birth certificate shows the fathers name and was issued within a year of the birth this will establish their link to the father and together with evidence of the fathers claim to British nationality will be sufficient. Only a birth certificate naming the father can be accepted by HM Passport Office staff as proof of paternity without reference to IND Nationality Group. Any application where alternative evidence is provided must be referred to the Policy Team to consult Nationality Group if appropriate.
Where an applicant is claiming British nationality through their father and they are unable to provide a full birth certificate which includes fathers name, they should be referred to the United Kingdom Visas & Immigration (UKV&I) for advice.
Documents needed to establish a first time claim for those born in the UK
The list below provides details of the documents needed to establish a first time claim through parents for those born in the UK after 31.12.82.
Status through mother
Full birth certificate and mother’s British passport number issued before the date of birth of the child.
Full birth certificate and mother’s British passport number issued after the date of birth of the child at section 4, plus her parents details at section 8 if the mother is also born after 31.12.82 or overseas.
Full birth certificate and evidence of mother’s claim to British nationality* (e.g. UK birth, registration or naturalisation certificate)
Full birth certificate and mother’s foreign passport showing ILR at the time of the childs birth
Full birth certificate and mothers foreign passport and a letter from HM Forces confirming the mother is/was subject to Service law at the time of the childs birth.
Status through father
Full birth certificate and father’s British passport number issued before the date of birth of the child at section 4 and his marriage certificate** to the childs mother
Full birth certificate and father’’s British passport number issued after the date of birth of the child at section 4 and his marriage certificate** to the childs mother, plus his parents details at section 8, if he was also born after 31.12.82 or overseas
Full birth certificate and evidence of fathers claim to British nationality* (e.g. UK birth, registration or naturalisation certificate) and his marriage certificate** to the childs mother
Full birth certificate and fathers foreign passport showing he had ILR at the time of the childs birth plus his marriage certificate** to the childs mother.
Full birth certificate and fathers foreign passport plus his marriage certificate** to the childs mother and a letter from HM Forces confirming that he is/was subject to Service law at the time of the childs birth.
*If the parent is also born after 31.12.82 their full birth certificate and parents documents will also be required to establish parents nationality unless they already hold a British passport.
** Born UK on or after 1 July 2006
For children born after 30 June 2006, the fathers marriage certificate is not needed but the full birth certificate must be issued within one year of birth and show fathers details.
However from the 10th of September 2015, the birth certificate will become one of the documents that are taken into consideration to establish paternity, but can be discounted if there is other information to suggest that another man is in fact the child’s natural father.
Adopted UK after 31.12.82
Full adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place in the UK
Evidence that one of the adopters is a British citizen, e.g. UK passport, birth certificate, registration or naturalisation certificate issued before the date of adoption. If the adopter is born in the UK after 31.12.82 or born overseas and they do not hold a UK passport, their FBC and parents’ documents will also be required.
Full Hague Convention adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place in a Hague Convention country on or after 1 June 2003
Evidence that one of the adopters is a British citizen, e.g. UK passport, birth certificate, registration or naturalisation certificate issued before the date of adoption. If the adopter is born in the UK after 31.12.82 or born overseas and they do not hold a UK passport, their FBC and parents’ documents will also be required.
In the absence of a national passport showing the parent had indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom at the time of the childs birth, we will accept a letter from the UKV&I confirming that the parent was granted ILR before the childs birth.
Parents passport not on Main Index
In some cases the parents passports may not be on the main index and the PASS system will provide a warning. The most likely explanation will be that the passport is an old blue style or it will be a machine readable passport issued before 1991, or a passport issued overseas before 1997.
Where the passport is an old blue it will need to be submitted to confirm the parents status along with the standard documents listed above to prove the status as the old blue passport is not acceptable on its own. Where the old blue is no longer held, the standard documents must be provided.
Parent’s names differ to that on birth certificate
Where a parent’s names shown on the birth certificate differ to that of the documents produced, examiners need to be satisfied that the documents relate to the parent from whom the claim is derived. Where there is no evidence to establish the link between the different names shown on the documents, this should be requested, for example, in the form of a change of name deed, or marriage certificate etc.
Where a divorce document is submitted in place of a marriage certificate, this may be accepted provided it shows a clear date of marriage, and the names of the parents.
In the United Kingdom a divorce obtained in a court of civil jurisdiction in any part of the United Kingdom may be accepted, provided that the decree absolute is seen.
An extra judicial divorce, i.e. one not made through the courts, such as a Muslim Talaq, (the Islam right of divorce) which was granted in this country before 1 January 1974, is acceptable only if the parties concerned were domiciled at the time in a country in which such a divorce would be accepted.
Extra-judicial divorces, which have been granted since 1 January 1974 in this country, are not valid.
DNA evidence is not a requirement of HM Passport Office and therefore it must not be requested. It can be suggested on a voluntary basis in certain overseas cases and can be sent to us unsolicited with UK applications. Any examiner considering DNA testing results received with a UK application must contact the Policy Team for guidance as it is not within the standard examination remit to handle these cases. Where an applicant is unable to provide the relevant documents to prove nationality, they should be referred to UKV&I
Where DNA evidence is submitted with an application, staff must only accept tests conducted by organisations accredited by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). This is because the MOJ is empowered to prescribe the conditions that a body must meet in order to be eligible for accreditation, therefore we can be satisfied that it will be acceptable for our purposes. Please go to the MOJ website for a current list of approved testers.
Where DNA evidence is submitted to confirm/contest parental responsibility examiners should accept the evidence only where the test was conducted by one of the MOJ accredited organisations. Examiners must take care in these circumstances as biology does not necessarily confer parental responsibility.
Where DNA evidence submitted was conducted by an organisation not on the MOJ list that only a birth certificate issued within the first year of the childs birth, naming the father can be accepted by HM Passport Office staff as proof of paternity without reference to UKV&I Nationality Group.
From the 10th of September 2015, the birth certificate will become one of the documents that are taken into consideration to establish paternity, but can be discounted if there is other information to suggest that another man is in fact the child’s natural father.
The report will assess the nature of the relationship between each of the persons tested and state the probability of such a relationship (e.g. it is x times more likely that A is the father of B rather than a close relative). DNA reports frequently refer to 1st degree or 2nd degree relationships:
- a 1st degree relationship means that the parties are either parent and child or siblings.
- a 2nd degree relationship means that the child may be a grandchild, a nephew or a half-sibling of the alleged parent.
The report may also conclude that the persons tested are more distantly related (e.g. cousins) or unrelated. It should be noted that while DNA profiling can indicate the nature of the relationship in question (i.e. a 1st degree, 2nd degree or more distant relationship) it cannot be more precise than that.
Thus, if the relationship is a 1st degree relationship, we know that the parties are either parent and child or siblings, but DNA testing cannot distinguish between one and the other (although it may well be obvious taking the history of the case as a whole).
The format of DNA results will vary slightly from company to company, but they should clearly show the probability that the claimed parent has a 1st degree relationship with the claimed child as a percentage number (e.g. 99.992%).
All DNA tests will generate a probability of paternity/maternity of less than 100%. To produce a 100% probability, a laboratory would have to test and exclude every other man/woman in the world. Since this is not feasible, a paternity test uses a population database to calculate the probability (likelihood) of paternity. An exclusion result (the alleged parent is definitely not the biological parent) is always 0%. If the genetic profiles of the child and alleged parent do not match, there is statistically no chance that the two are biologically related.
The MOJ accredited companies will all provide a positive result for a 1st degree relationship of 99.99% and usually greater than 99.999%.
Place of birth
The place of birth shown on the passport should be the same as the place of birth shown on the birth certificate unless this does not match the list of correct country names.
Standard ID checks and FBC policy
Standard ID checks on new birth certificates are not routinely performed where the application is for a child’s first passport i.e. applications for those under the age of 16 years, except where the claim to British citizenship is via descent.
ID checks must be undertaken where a new birth certificate is submitted with a first-time adult application i.e. applications for those 16 years and over. The exception, in line with current policy, is where the application is supported by older/original documentation (including a parent’s passport) or is submitted with an application for another family member that contains older supporting documentation.