Registering a new baby and getting a birth certificate
How to register your baby
Every baby born in New Zealand must be registered, normally within 2 months of being born. It’s free, and you can apply for the baby’s birth certificate and IRD number at the same time.
Registering a birth in NZ is a legal requirement.
Both parents have to complete the birth registration together, unless one of them is:
- of unsound mind
- unable to complete the form because of a medical condition
- overseas and has no delivery address or contact details
- a danger to you or your child.
If the other parent is unknown, you can still register the birth online. If the other parent is known, but they can't complete the form, you must complete a paper form and post it to Births, Deaths and Marriages.
If you don't want to name the baby’s other parent
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.
Even if you’re not together now, naming the other parent generally means they'll be one of the child’s legal guardians if you were:
- married or in a civil union at any time from when the baby was conceived until its birth, or
- living together in a de facto relationship when the baby was born.
If they're a legal guardian, they’re entitled to:
- have contact with the child (unless a court rules otherwise)
- have a say in how the child is raised
- take over as main caregiver if something happens to you.
If naming the other parent would put you or your child 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.
Anyone can request a copy of a New Zealand birth certificate once a birth is registered. If you think this could put you or your child in danger, you can apply to have a non-disclosure direction put on the baby’s records.
What it means for you if you don’t name the baby’s 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 another way (for example, with a DNA test)
- your payments might be reduced if you apply for a Sole Parent Support benefit from Work and Income.
What it means for the other parent
If you’re the biological parent of a child but you’re not named on the birth certificate, and you weren’t in a relationship with the child’s other parent around the time of the birth, you:
- can apply to the Family Court to be appointed a legal guardian — you’ll probably need to prove you’re the baby’s mother or father, for example, with a DNA test
- may be able to be added to the child’s birth certificate later — contact Births, Deaths and Marriages to find out more.
If you want to name the other parent but you don’t have their consent
- complete their details without consent if you have evidence that they’re the biological parent, for example, a DNA test or statutory declarations from family members
- choose to give the baby their last name if you want to.
Complete the PDF birth registration form and include any contact details you have for the other parents — Births, Deaths and Marriages will attempt to contact them for their signature on your behalf.
Contact Births, Deaths and Marriages to find out more.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen and your baby is born overseas
If you’re a New Zealand citizen by birth or grant and your baby is born overseas:
- You must register the birth and get a birth certificate in the country your baby was born in.
- You can register them as a New Zealand citizen by descent — you can apply for their New Zealand passport at the same time.
If the baby was stillborn or has died
You still need to register the birth. If you don’t want to give the baby a first name, you can choose to leave that field blank by adding a dash (-) into the field.
If you had your baby with the help of a sperm or egg donor
- have a partner who isn’t the sperm or egg donor, you can name them as the baby’s legal parent
- aren’t in a relationship, you’re the baby’s only legal parent — complete a paper birth registration form and leave the other parent’s details blank.
If you’re adopting the baby out
You need to register the birth — not the adoptive parents. Once the baby is legally adopted, they’ll be issued a new birth certificate that shows their adoptive parents’ details. The original pre-adoptive birth certificate is kept on file and the baby can apply for a copy of it once they turn 20.
When you register your baby, you can also apply for:
- your baby’s birth certificate — this costs $33.00 for a standard certificate, $35.00 for a decorative certificate or $55.00 for a pack including 1 standard and 1 decorative certificate
- an IRD number for the baby — you’ll need this to claim Working for Families payments for the child, or to open a KiwiSaver or bank account in their name.
If you receive a benefit, you can get Birth, Deaths and Marriages to tell the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) about your child’s birth — you’ll need to tell MSD so they can check how this changes your benefit.
If you’ve already applied for Working for Families payments for your baby, make sure you include your own IRD number on the birth registration form — Inland Revenue needs this to give you the payments.
When your baby is given an IRD number, Inland Revenue will add it to your Working for Families registration details for you.
Naming your child
Birth registration is when you officially give your child a legal name.
The baby’s name must:
- include a last name and one or more first names, unless your religious or cultural beliefs require the baby to only have one name
- not be:
- longer than 100 characters, including spaces
- an official title or rank, or resemble one (eg Justice, King, Prince or Princess, Royal) unless you can justify why your baby should be allowed that name
- spelled with numbers or symbols (eg V8).
What happens next
You won’t be notified when the birth is registered.
If you applied for:
- a birth certificate, you’ll receive it from Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) after about 8 working days
- an IRD number for the baby, you’ll receive it from IRD after about 15 working days.
If you gave BDM permission to tell the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) about the birth of your child, MSD may contact you to talk about any changes to your benefit.
If you didn't apply for a birth certificate or IRD number when you registered your baby’s birth, you can do this separately.