Department for Work and Pensions
Printable version E-mail this to a friend

Joint birth registration white paper joint birth registration: recording responsibility announced

Joint birth registration white paper joint birth registration: recording responsibility announced

DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS News Release (HSC-081) issued by The Government News Network on 2 June 2008

Plans to change the law to require dads as well as mums to be named on the birth certificate are being announced by Secretary of State for Work James Purnell and Children's Secretary Ed Balls in a joint White Paper published today.

The change, which will be implemented in the next session's Welfare Reform Bill, will put parental responsibility centre stage by giving mothers or fathers a right to insist that the other parent acknowledges their responsibilities to their child by registering on the birth certificate.

The responsibility to register a new baby for unmarried parents currently lies predominantly with the mother. In England and Wales around 7% of births each year are solely registered by mothers, which means every year up to 45,000 children do not have their father named on their birth certificates. Today's announcement intends to address this through three key changes to the law:

1. Requirement to joint register

We are introducing a new responsibility on both parents to joint register the birth of their child. If either parent wants to sole register, the registrar will explain to them that they have to joint register unless it is "impracticable, impossible or unreasonable to do so". If not then the registrar will ask the registering parent to come back with information about the other parent in order to continue with the joint registration.

2. Father's obligation to register

Where the mother wants joint registration but the father does not want to, the mother can provide information that allows the registrar to contact the father who will be obliged to take a paternity test. If he is proven to be the father then the child will be joint registered.

3. Father's right to register

The changes will give a father the right to declare his paternity and have his name recorded on the birth certificate. Where the mother does not acknowledge that the father is the father, he will have the right to ask to take a paternity test.

In addition the White Paper also proposes other non-legislative ways to increase the number of joint registrations, for example registrar outreach making it possible for people to register in their local community at a doctor's surgery or community centre. It also looks at more flexible hours for registration, or the option of a home visit for parents with reduced mobility.

Mr Purnell said:

"All children deserve the best start in life. It's crucial that from the day they are born, both mum and dad recognise the role they play in their child's life and how that shapes their child's identity. Registering a child's birth isn't just a legal requirement, it's a lifetime commitment by both parents to safeguard their child's development, health and welfare, and provide them with direction and guidance throughout childhood.

"We want to ensure that while continuing to protect vulnerable women and children, we promote parental responsibility and child welfare by significantly increasing the number of birth registrations which hold the details of both mother and father."

Mr Balls said:

"Every child has the right to know who their parents are and we want to make things as easy as possible for both parents to take responsibility for their children. Becoming a father is a serious and significant event, as we know that when fathers are involved in their child's life it can help them succeed at school, as well as stay on the right track during the teenage years and - for children in separated families - improve emotional health and well-being .

"Engaging fathers at the birth of their child, including registering fathers on the birth certificate, is vital in establishing that close involvement."

Notes To Editors

1. The White Paper Joint birth registration: recording responsibility can be found at: or

2. The names of married parents are automatically recorded in the birth register when one of them registers. They do not have to register jointly. This works well and it is not proposed to change this.

3. The White Paper follows a Green Paper Joint birth registration: promoting parental responsibility published by my Department on 26th June 2007.




Embracing our differences