The birth certificate is the right of every child
At a minimum, birth registration establishes a legal record of where the child was born and who his/her parents are.
The birth certificate, therefore, is the child’s first legal proof of identity.
The registration and certification of a child is not only backed by municipal law, but it is also an international requirement which is prominently featured in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals initiative, (target 16.9).
Ghana’s legal framework for birth registration ensures the registration of all births occurring in the country regardless of the nationality, race or ethnic background of the child.
According to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020 (Act 1027), the institution clothed with the mandate of registering all birth events that occur within the jurisdiction of Ghana is the Births and Deaths Registry.
A sneak peak into Act 1027
The registration of birth, foetal death and death events in the country is the foremost responsibility of the Births and Deaths Registry of Ghana according to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020 (Act 1027).
The Act which replaced the repealed Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1965, introduces provisions such as the community population register under section 12 of the Act, which is aimed at ensuring that birth and death registration is owned by citizens at the community level.
A full implementation of this provision in the Act would see registrations of birth and death events that occur in each community entered into the register by the community trained volunteers.
Another noteworthy provision that has been introduced is the Registration of assisted reproductive births under section 22 of Act 1027.
This gives a clear path for people who intend to have children through surrogacy to go about the registration of their children without having any legal qualms.
These are just a few of the progressive provisions introduced by the parliament of Ghana into the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020 (Act 1027).
Acquisition of a birth certificate at birth
Birth registration within the first twelve months of the child’s life is FREE OF CHARGE but registration outside this period attracts a fee.
After registration, the birth certificate is obtained almost instantly. It is important to note that a child’s birth ought to be registered by the District Registrar of the Registry, at the district in which the child is born.
The requirements for birth registration are: evidence of birth such as a clinical immunization card issued by the Ghana Health Service, name of child, mother and father’s details. The date of birth, exact place of birth in the country, father and mother’s full names, their nationalities, residence, occupation and name of person providing information for the registration (the informant) are also some of the details required to complete the birth registration form.
The informant does not always have to be the parent. It could be the person present at the birth, person having custody of the child or an occupier of the premises in which the child is born, if the occupier has knowledge of the birth.
Difference between birth certificate and certified copy
It has been mentioned earlier in this write up that when fresh registration of a child is being done, the birth certificate is obtained almost instantly. This birth certificate is the pink handwritten document that contains the necessary details of the child.
The certified copy on the other hand is the green document with a seal and a stamp which is erroneously referred to as the ‘biometric version’ of the birth certificate. Although it is the document that is often in high demand, it is imperative to state that the certified copy is just proof that, the child’s birth has been registered and has also been duly entered into the Register of Births.
Benefits of having a birth certificate
The birth certificate serves as a foundational document to obtain other legal documents or meet requirements. In education, it is proof of age for school entry. Even in institutions of higher learning, the birth certificate is required for verifying the credibility of the student. In the area of healthcare, the birth certificate can aid health officers to administer the right dosage of vaccines to children especially during immunization.
The Birth certificate also aides in the acquisition of important identification documents such as passports, driver’s licenses, national identification cards among others. Entry into the labour market without a birth certificate is almost impossible owing to the fact that the production of a birth certificate is an important requirement for consideration.
A birth certificate is an important document without which there is no permanent legal record of a child’s existence. It can be argued that the protection of a child’s rights and privileges begins with registering and obtaining his or her birth certificate.
Parents and Guardians are therefore entreated to register their wards as early as possible so that the children can enjoy the aforementioned benefits of being in possession of a birth certificate.
Parents and guardians with children who are over twelve months old are encouraged to protect the rights of their children by visiting www.ghana.gov.gh online payment platform to begin the registration of their children.
By Henrietta Lamptey
The Author is the Registrar of the Births and Deaths.