Registering the birth of your baby

The law in Scotland means that you must register the birth of your baby before she is 21 days old. You register the birth of your baby with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. There will be a local one in your area and you can find their details through your midwife, hospital staff or in the phone book.

Parental rights and responsibilities

These give you the legal right to make decisions about your child’s care, welfare, education and development. If you register the birth jointly or are married it means you share equal parental responsibilities and rights. If you do not, or are not married, only the mother assumes these rights and responsibilities. For more information about law and family matters, visit the Scottish Government's website(external website).

If you’re married or in a civil partnership . . .

. . . either of you can register the birth of your baby. You’ll automatically have the same parental rights and responsibilities. You’ll need to take a copy of your marriage certificate and the card you were given at the hospital with you.

If you’re not married . . .

. . . your midwife or hospital staff will let the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages know that your baby has been born and you’ll be sent a reminder letter and given an extension if you haven’t registered your baby’s birth within 21 days. You’ll need to make an appointment with your local office and remember to take documentation with you.

. . . the mother assumes all parental rights and responsibilities unless the father is named in the register. To do this, the father must:

  • sign the register jointly with the mother (so it means you both need to go to the Registrar’s office).
  • sign a declaration which you should pick up in advance from the Registrar’s office.
  • the mother needs to sign a declaration too. The declarations are a statement that you both agree who the father of your baby is. This means the mother can register both of you as parents without the father needing to be there.
  • have a court decree declaring that he is the father and the mother can then register the birth, without the father needing to be there.

If you are not married to your baby’s father, he does not have any rights regarding whether or not you choose to have your baby immunised against serious diseases.

If you're in a same-sex relationship . . .

. . .Registering the birth and assigning legal parenthood can sometimes be a little more complicated, depending on how you have conceived and if you are in a civil partnership. Stonewall have more information either at or call 0131 474 8019

Last Updated: 24 November 2015
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