A birth certificate is an official record of a birth issued by a government department.
UK Birth Certificates
In the UK, when a child is born the birth is registered with the government. The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in England and Wales on 1 July 1837 and became compulsory in 1875. When a birth is registered, details are recorded in a register book at the local register office in the area where the birth took place. A copy of this entry is then sent to the General Register Office (GRO).
Full Certificate v Short Certificate
There are two types of birth certificate – a full certificate titled a “Certified copy of an Entry” and a short certificate titled “Certificate of Birth”. A full certificate is a copy of the original entry in the birth register. The certificate will include the child’s name, sex, date, place of birth an additionally the father’s name, place of birth and occupation and the mother’s name, place of birth and occupation. The short certificate will only show the child’s name, sex, date and place of birth. A short certificate is usually issued when the birth is registered.
A full certificate can be ordered from the General Register Office Certificate Ordering Service.
A UK issued birth certificate is protected by Crown copyright. As it is issued by a government department, only the government are permitted to issue certified copies.
This means a notary cannot notarise a copy of a UK birth certificate. A notary can however provide a notarial certificate for a certified copy issued by the GRO.
Foreign Birth Certificates
For birth certificates issued outside of the UK, the notary will need to see the original birth certificate and may need to undertake checks with the body who issued the document.
If you require an apostille to be affixed to your UK birth certificate by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UK (the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), the birth certificate does not necessarily have to notarised. An apostille is a small certificate and seal that is affixed to a document that contains an official signature. Notarisation is the subscription of an official signature by a notary to a document. UK birth certificates contain a signature by a registrar or one of their deputies. These are deemed as official signatures, meaning the document can have an apostille affixed to it without the need for notarisation.
Foreign birth certificates may require notarisation before apostille however. This is because signatures subscribed to these birth certificates in foreign jurisdictions may not be recognised as official signatures by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
If you are unsure about how to get your birth certificate affixed with an apostille, please do not hesitate to contact us where our notary will be happy to assist.