The long and the short of it means baby gets the first certificate

One of the first certificates you are likely to use in the early days of your family history research is likely to be a birth certificate.

You do, however, have to make sure you get the right one because there are two types, the long and the short.

The short version is only used as a basic information form giving the name and date of birth and little else.

The long birth certificate, as shown above, has loads of useful information.


The very first box gives you the date of birth – day, month and year – as well as the place of birth.

Sometimes the address is very basic, but in the main it will be street, including number or house name, town or village and county.


Next is the given name


This shows the sex of the child.


This is for the full name of the father. If this is left blank it means the father’s identity is not known, or cannot be proved.


This provides extra information as it not only gives the married name of the mother but also her name before marriage. This can lead to the maternal grandparents.


Gives the father’s occupation, which can be a great help if there are two men of the same name who have different occupations.


This gives details of the person who provides the information to the registrar. Sometimes this is the mother but a father can also provide the information or even a relative if they were present at the birth.


This is for the date the birth is registered.


This is where the registrar signs to verify the information is correct.

BOX 10

This box is not used very often. It is there to allow for any change of name after the date of registration.

Your birth certificate might not give much information that you did not already have, but when you get to certificates for your grandparents it is useful for finding out details you did not already know.

Your grandfather’s or grandmother’s certificates will not only identify your maternal great grandparents but also their paternal grandparent’s family name.

NEXT: the marriage certificate.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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