What is birth registration?

Birth registration is the official recording of a child’s birth into a governments civil registry. The right to birth registration is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that “every child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name and a nationality’.  Most recently, the importance of the right to birth registration has been reiterated in Goal 16.9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to “provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030.

Birth registration provides formal recognition by a state of a child’s birth and is a permanent and official record of a child’s existence (UNICEF, 2013).   Birth registration provides individuals with the documentary evidence, i.e. a birth certificate, required to secure recognition of legal identity, family relationships, nationality, and access to public and private services. A functioning civil registration system can provide a reliable foundation for identification systems e.g. national population/ID registers. 

As part of a government's Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system, the recording of vital events such as birth and death is a fundamental metric for smart planning and decision making. Universal and accurate registration of birth, death and recording of cause of death, enables production of vital statistics which governments can use to more precisely plan and implement effective government programmes. 

For more information about birth registration please click here and go to the "learn more" tab. 

The Birth Registration Process

Steps associated with the birth registration process are well documented in the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 3, UNSD, 2014. These are outlined and explained below. 

Birth registration processes vary from country to country and not all of the steps described below will feature in your context. The effect thatan emergency has on the process will also vary; by conducting the steps in the Analyse phase of the toolkit you will be able to assess the impact of the emergency on the process and identify needs.