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Register a stillbirth

A stillbirth is when a baby is born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy. If the baby dies before 24 completed weeks, it's known as a miscarriage or late foetal loss.

A stillbirth should be registered within 42 days. We will make every effort to send a registrar to your home or to the hospital to register the stillbirth at a time convenient for you but you can also register the stillbirth at one of our  register offices

If the stillbirth is registered after 42 days, this will be referred to the General Register Office for authorisation.

You can name the baby in the register and arrange a funeral for your baby.

Who can register the stillbirth

If the baby's parents are married, either the mother or father can register.

The mother can sign if:

  • the baby's parents aren't married
  • the father can't be traced or is unknown

If both parents want the father's name in the register:

  • both parents can sign the register together
  • the mother can sign and bring a 'signed declaration' from the father (the register office can explain how to do this).

If the father registers the stillbirth and the parents aren't married, the mother will need to make a 'signed declaration'. Contact us for more information.

If neither parent can attend

The following people can register the stillbirth:

  • the occupier of the hospital or house where the stillbirth took place
  • someone who was present at the stillbirth
  • someone who is responsible for the stillborn child
  • the person who found the stillborn child, if the date and place of the stillbirth are unknown

What you'll need to tell us

You need the medical certificate of stillbirth issued by the doctor or midwife, unless the still-birth has been referred to the Coroner, in which case the Coroner's office will advise you what to do.

We will ask you for:

  • the date and place of the stillbirth (the time is only required in the case of multiple stillbirths e.g. twins)
  • name (if you had chosen one), surname and sex of the baby (please note that a name cannot be added at a later date)
  • parents' names, surnames and address
  • places and dates of parents' births
  • date of parents' marriage if applicable
  • parents' occupations
  • mother's maiden surname

What you'll be given at the appointment 

When you register the stillbirth, you will be given a stillbirth certificate. You'll also be given a form that allows you to make arrangements for either burial or cremation. Separate procedures apply where the the still-birth has been referred to the Coroner.

If the stillbirth occurred outside of Dorset

You can still go to a Dorset register office to register by 'declaration'. We will send this onto the register office in the district where the baby was born and they will send you the certificate, usually within a week.

Support and taking time off work

If you would like any information on support available to you, contact us or  visit the Gov.uk website.

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