Registering a new baby and getting a birth certificate
Every baby born in New Zealand must be registered, usually within 2 months of being born. You can order your baby's birth certificate and apply for their IRD number at the same time.
Registering a birth in New Zealand is a legal requirement. It’s free to register your baby, but there is a cost to order a copy of their birth certificate, if you want one.
When you register your baby, you must give them a name. You can also:
- apply for Best Start payments
- apply for an IRD number for your baby
- add your baby to your Working for Families Tax Credits
- notify the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) of the birth of your baby, if you get a benefit.
How to register your baby
Both parents need to complete the birth registration, unless 1 parent is:
- of unsound mind
- unable to complete the form because of a medical condition
- overseas with no delivery address or contact details
- a danger to you or your child.
If both parents can complete the form, or if one of the parents is unknown, you can register the birth online.
If both parents cannot complete the form
If the other parent is unknown, you can register your baby’s birth online.
If the other parent is known but cannot complete the form for any of the above reasons, you need to complete a PDF form and post it to Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM).
- Notification of birth for registration of child born in New Zealand form BDM 27 (PDF 733KB)
- Notification of birth for registration of child born in New Zealand form BDM 27 accessible alternative (TXT 48KB)
If you’re not in a relationship with the other parent
Even if you’re not together now, naming your baby’s other parent generally means they’ll be one of their legal guardians if you were:
- married or in a civil union at any time from when your baby was conceived until their birth, or
- living together in a de facto relationship when your baby was born.
If they’re a legal guardian, they’re entitled to:
- have contact with your child (unless a court rules otherwise)
- have a say in how your child is raised
- take over as main caregiver if something happens to you.
If you name the other parent on the birth registration and you’re not in a relationship now, you can apply for a child support assessment.
What it means for you if you don’t name the other parent
If you know who the baby’s other parent is but don’t name them, they may not have to pay child support unless you can prove they’re the mother or father, for example, with a DNA test.
What it means for the other parent if they’re not named
If you’re a biological parent but you’re not named on the birth certificate, you can apply to the Family Court to be appointed a legal guardian. You may need to prove you’re the baby’s mother or father, for example, with a DNA test.
You may be able to be added to the child’s birth certificate later — contact Births, Deaths and Marriages to find out more.
If naming the other parent would put you or your baby in danger
If naming the baby’s other parent would put you in danger or cause you distress, complete a PDF birth registration form. Include the other parent’s details and an explanation of the situation — you don’t have to get the other parent to sign the form.
If you want to name the other parent, but you don’t have their consent
You can complete their details without consent if you have evidence they’re the biological parent, like a DNA test or statutory declarations from family members.
Complete the PDF birth registration form and include any contact details you have for the other parent — Births, Deaths and Marriages will attempt to contact them for their signature.
If your baby was stillborn or has died
You still need to register your baby’s birth. If you don’t want to give your baby a first name, you can choose to leave that field blank by adding a dash (-) into the field. If you leave the field blank, the certificate will show 'Not recorded’ in the given name field.
If you had your baby with the help of a sperm or egg donor
- have a partner who is not the sperm or egg donor, you can name them as the baby’s legal parent and register the birth online
- are not in a relationship, then you’re the baby’s only legal parent — leave the other parent’s details blank.
Same-sex parent titles on birth certificates
Two female parents can be listed on a birth certificate if they used human assisted reproductive procedures and were in a relationship at the time of the procedures.
If there are 2 female parents, enter details of the mother’s partner where the form asks for the father’s details. Her details will be shown on the child’s birth registration and birth certificates as either 'Mother’ or 'Parent’.
If the baby is going to be adopted
The birth parents need to register the birth — not the adoptive parents. You can do this online. Once the baby is legally adopted, the adoptive parents will be issued with a new birth certificate that shows their details.
This also applies to children born by IVF to a surrogate.
If your baby was born outside New Zealand
If you’re a New Zealand citizen by birth or grant and your baby is born outside New Zealand, you must register the birth and get a birth certificate in the country your baby was born in.
You can then register your baby as a New Zealand citizen by descent and apply for their New Zealand passport.
It’s free to register your baby and apply for their IRD number, but there is a cost to order a copy of their birth certificate.
A birth certificate costs:
- $33.00 for a standard certificate
- $35.00 for a decorative certificate
- $55.00 for a pack including 1 standard and 1 decorative certificate.
Naming your child
When you register your baby’s birth, you officially give them a legal name.
Your baby’s name must include:
- a last name, and
- 1 or more first names — unless your religious or cultural beliefs require your baby to only have 1 name.
Your baby's name must not be:
- longer than 100 characters, including spaces
- an official title or rank, or resemble one (for example, Justice, King, Prince, Princess, Royal)
- spelled with numbers or symbols (for example, V8).
What happens next
Delays to some BDM services:
The Department of Internal Affairs currently has reduced staffing capacity due to COVID-19. There are processing delays to some Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) products and services.
You will not be contacted when your baby’s birth is registered, unless we need further information.
- ordered a birth certificate, you’ll receive it after about 8 working days
- applied for an IRD number for your baby, you’ll receive it after about 15 working days
- gave BDM permission to tell the MSD about the birth of your child, MSD may contact you to talk about any changes to your benefit.
If you didn’t order a birth certificate or apply for your baby’s IRD number when you registered their birth, you can do this separately.