Birth Registration

New born baby chewing hand = Birth registration
Birth registration is the process by which a child’s birth is recorded upon a civil register held and maintained by a government authority. 1

The World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) state that birth registration is fundamental for a child to gain access to schools, health care, legal protection and legal standing. 2 The Birth Certificate that is issued after registration is also a crucial identification document, often having to be produced to obtain employment, insurances, travel documents and to prove age.

Birth registration also serves as a tool to prevent child exploitation and harm, by ensuring that the child’s existence is known.

Birth registration has also been hailed as a cornerstone of public health surveillance as it provides a basis for planning, implementing and monitoring public health policies and programmes. 3

In Australia, registration of all births and stillbirths is compulsory (it is required by law) and must occur within a specified time period. Read more below!

State and Territory Laws

In Australia, each state and territory has laws that establish a register of births deaths and marriages. The government authority that maintains the register is known as the ‘Registrar of Birth Deaths and Marriages’ (or BDM).

The law states that all births and stillbirths must be registered. The birth registration is generally required within a certain time-period under the relevant legislation (although late registrations may also occur). In all jurisdictions, the ‘person responsible’ for notification of the birth is the CEO of the hospital or doctors or midwives attendant at a birth. Doctors must also certify stillbirths. In addition, parents are required to fill in a birth registration statement and provide it to the BDM.

Below you will find a table that lists the state/territory and the time in which the hospital/doctor/midwife notification of the birth must occur. 4 There is also a column indicating how long parents have to supply the birth registration statement to BDM.

Table: State/Territory time frames for birth registration
State/Territory Timeframe – Hospital/Dr/Midwife Notification  Parents Birth Registration Statement
 NSW

 7 days (live birth)

48 hours still birth

 60 days
 Victoria

 21 days (live birth)

48 hours still birth

 60 days
 South Australia

7 days (live birth)

48 hours still birth

 60 days
 Western Australia  1 month  60 days
 Northern Territory  10 days  60 days
 Queensland  2 working days  60 days
ACT 7 working days  6 months
Tasmania 21 days 60 days

Overseas Births

Children born outside of Australia may also be registered within a particular State or Territory, if their birth has not been recorded elsewhere, and their parent usually resides in, is about to reside in, or has a sufficient connection with the State or Territory.

Sex Reassignment

Baby - birth registration
All States and Territories in Australia allow a person who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery to apply to the registrar to register a change of his or her sex. Where the sex of a newborn baby is ambiguous and the child later has surgery to give the child the physical appearance of a male or female child, the parents may apply to the registrar to register a change in sex. 5

Notes:

  1. Sonia Allan and Meredith Blake, The Patient and Practitioner: Health Law and Ethics in Australia (2014) Lexis Nexis, p 346.
  2. World Health Organization, HMN/WHO statement, ‘Health Metrics Network and World Health Organization welcome birth registration resolution’, (23 March 2012), http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2012/HMN_birth_registration/en/ viewed 28 Dec 2014; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), The ‘Rights’ Start to Life: A Statistical Analysis of Birth Registration (New York: UNICEF, February 2005).
  3. World Health Organization, ibid.
  4. Sonia Allan and Meredith Blake, The Patient and Practitioner: Health Law and Ethics in Australia (2014) Lexis Nexis, p347. See also relevant laws as follows Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW), ss 12-16; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic), ss 12-15; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (SA), ss 12-17; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1998 (WA), ss 12-16; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld), ss 5-14; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 (ACT) ss 5-11; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 (Tas) s 11-18.
  5. Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1995 (NSW) ss 32A – 32J; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (Vic) ss 30A – 30D: persons born in Victoria; ss 30E – 30F: Victorian residents born elsewhere; ss30G – 30I: other matters; Sexual Reassignment Act 1988 (SA), ss 7 – 10; Gender Reassignment Act 2000 (WA), ss 14 – 19; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (NT), ss 28A – 28J; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 2003 (Qld), ss 22 – 24; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 (ACT), ss 23 – 29; Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1999 (Tas), ss 28A – 28J.