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How to replace a UK birth certificate

Despite providing an embarrassing record of your age and middle name, birth certificates are useful forms of identification. Yet, the short version certificate provided free at birth is not adequate for all official purposes. How do you go about replacing, or obtaining a first copy, of a long form birth certificate? Find out in this article.

Is there a central record of birth certificates?

The General Register Office holds a central copy of all registrations for England and Wales. Local Register Offices also hold records of all births, marriages and deaths registered in their area. For a new birth, it is best just to approach the local registry.

If I’ve lost my birth certificate, how can I produce ID?

You don’t need to prove your identity to order a copy birth certificate, as they are public records. Many keen genealogists order very old copies of birth certificates when researching their family history, for example. You will need a reference for older certificates, although to buy certificates from the last two centuries, all you need is a date of birth. If you don’t know the exact date, a search will be made of the years surrounding the suspected date of birth. Of course, if you're not sure where you were born, or if you were born overseas, you will have to apply to the General Registry.

Ordering online

You can order a copy certificate online from the General Registry Office website. A fee is payable, currently around £9.25 for each copy, although more is charged if a certificate is required urgently.

Don’t want to pay or order online

If you still prefer post or personal transactions, you can order your certificate using Royal Mail or face-to-face, either via the General Registry Office or the district registry local to where the birth took place. You will have to obtain and complete an application form in advance.

Adoption certificates

Parents who have adopted children can order a replacement birth certificate in the child’s new name. The certificate will contain all legal information relating to the adoption, and replaces the original birth certificate for all legal purposes. A short form of the certificate can also be obtained, which makes no reference to the adoption.

Wait for arrival

Standard order certificates will be sent by post within 14 days. It is possible to make priority orders by telephone, which are sent out by first-class post on the next working day, but these are more expensive.

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