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How to register births, deaths and marriages

It is a UK legal requirement to register the three most significant life events – the first and the last day of life, and (hopefully) the happiest day of your life. This brief guide explains how to register births, deaths and marriages.

Where?

The general rule is that registrations must take place at the registry where the event occurs. If this is not possible, then details can be forwarded to the local office. Births and deaths abroad must be registered with the British Consulate or High Commission in the country where they took place. Details will then be forwarded to the General Registry Office (GRO) in the UK. It is not possible to register foreign marriages in Britain though it is possible to send copy documents to the GRO so that a local record exists.

Births

Babies must be registered within 42 days of birth if possible. Different rules apply as to who can register the births, depending on whether the parents are married to each other. A short version birth certificate will be issued. It is usually advisable to obtain a long form certificate as well and this has to be paid for. It is possible to order long form birth certificates online at a later stage.

Marriages

If you marry in a registry office or in a church, then the marriage will be entered in the register after the ceremony. These are kept by the church until they’re complete at which point they will be forwarded to the district registry office for safe keeping. Marriages in any other place will also be entered on the local registry as long as they are conducted by a person authorised to conduct marriages by the Registrar General. Marriage certificates will be issued immediately and copies can always be obtained from the local registry office if required. These can also be requested online as well.

Deaths

These must be registered within five days of the death occurring. The death can be registered by a relative or various other categories of people, depending on the circumstances. However, usually, the registrar will require a relative to do so unless none exist or can be located. Sometimes, there can be a delay in issuing the death certificate if the cause of death is undetermined and a post-mortem needs to be conducted. This will happen when the death was not by natural causes.

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