How and where to register a stillborn childLast updated: 07 June 2011 15:36 UK
The 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 at any time after being born.
Stillbirth registration began on 1 July 1927 to help protect infant life. As well as being an important source of historical and statistical information, it also gives parents the opportunity to have their child officially acknowledged and to give him or her names if they wish to.
If a child is born alive, before or after the 24th week, and dies shortly afterwards then the event must still be registered, but in a different way. The Register Office will be able to advise you on this.
Where and when to register a Stillbirth
The stillbirth should be registered in the district in which it occurs, so if the delivery took place at Queen Alexandra Hospital or at St. Mary’s Hospital or elsewhere within Portsmouth, the event should be registered at Portsmouth Register Office in Burnaby Road, Portsmouth (tel. 023 9282 9041). Registrations are by appointment to ensure that a Registrar is available, and an appointment can be made as soon as you have collected the medical certificate from the hospital, doctor or midwife as applicable. The stillbirth should be registered within 42 days (6 weeks) and cannot be registered more than 3 months after it occurred. If no medical certificate is available because no medical professional was in attendance, then please contact the Register Office for advice.
There is also a facility to attend any other Register Office in England and Wales, which may be more convenient to you. This facility, called “registering by declaration” has the disadvantage in that certificates are posted to you within a few days rather than issued immediately.
Who can register a Stillbirth and what will be recorded?
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 go. If they weren’t, who goes to the appointment will depend upon a number of factors:
- if you want the father's details to be entered in the register, then both parents can go and sign the stillbirth register together.
- if the father is unable to go to the register office with the mother, but you still want his details included, he can make a statutory declaration (on a form which we supply) in front of a Solicitor or Commissioner of Oaths, acknowledging his paternity, which the mother must give to the registrar.
- 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 on the same form as above which the father must give to the registrar.
- If the father's particulars are not recorded in the stillbirth register, it may be possible for the stillbirth to be re-registered to include his details at a later date.
Although the majority of stillbirths are registered by parents, sometimes neither the mother nor the father are able to attend. In these exceptional cases, registration can still be done and the advice of the Register Office should be sought.
The details recorded are the date and place of the stillbirth, any name the parents’ wish to give to the child, the sex and cause of stillbirth (where known – this is contained in the medical certificate issued to the parents). The name, occupation, birthplace and address of the parent(s) are also recorded.
What certificates will be issued?
Once the registration is complete, usually in about half an hour, a certificate is issued to allow the funeral arrangements to be finalised. This white form should be given to the hospital authorities or funeral director, whichever is organising the funeral. A Certificate of Registration is issued as proof that the registration has taken place and this is a legal document containing minimal personal information. There is also the option to purchase the full stillbirth certificate.
It is essential that at this difficult time the process of Registering a Stillbirth is made as trouble-free as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact the Register Office with any queries.
The Register Office
Tel: 023 9282 9041
The office opening hours are 9.00am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.