Understanding the Law
March 25, 2011
Birth Certificate woes

You like the colourful birth certificate with the parrot on the background and its typescript given in a vertical style. It is much neater than the old horizontal certificate even though the colour and the picture appear to dominate and the typescript recedes to the background so that you have to look carefully for the information.{{more}} It is easy to use for documentary purposes, though many would prefer to have the information on a small plastic card like the personal license card.

There are still some serious problems with birth record of older persons. It is difficult to extract our grand or great grandparents’ birth records because our foreparents did not see it necessary to include the name of the child on the record.

Children were mostly born at home and delivered by a midwife of the village. It was the duty of the parent to give the information that constitutes the record at the General Register Office at the Court House. You become part of the statistics, but it is the information that identifies you. As sometimes happened in those days, the birth information was given without giving the name of the child. The name of the child was not used until after baptism. Some children’s names were never included on the birth record. The effect is that there are difficulties in retrieving a birth certificate for those persons. Persons seeking a birth certificate must provide the name of the mother and the date of birth of the child to facilitate the search. In many cases, persons do not have sufficient information of grand or great grand parents.

Today the situation is different. The majority of children are born in the hospital and the information is collected by the hospital and sent to the Registrar General. There after, the parents must go to the Register Office to register the birth.

If a child is born out of wedlock, the father must go also to give consent for his name to be inserted on the record. There is a practice of using the father’s name when it is not included on the birth certificate. You must make sure his name is on the certificate before you use his name. You need to have his consent to insert it. If the father is dead, then you must seek the assistance of the court in a paternity proceeding.


If you were born out of wedlock and your parents marry after your birth, you can have your birth record re-registered to reflect your father’s name. A declaration must be done with the signature of your parents. If you wait until after your father’s death to do so, you would have to go to court to seek legitimation. This could be a long drawn out proceeding because you have to give the Attorney General at least one month’s notice before you start proceeding and you must include the Attorney General as respondent.

Correction of errors

The law provides for correction of errors on the birth record, but there must be a declaration in accordance with Section 43, Cap 179 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Revised Edition 1990.

There is no mistake that is so grave that cannot be corrected. The only problem is that it could be time consuming, as you must allow at least seven days for it to be processed.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: [email protected]