There are two modes of birth certificates application in Kenya.
The first and traditional method of application is through postal service and the last one is personal presentation of application forms to the Registrar. Currently the most frequently used is the latter method of application. In making a birth certificate application for any of the two types mentioned, it is mandatory for the applicant to fill in the prescribed details provided for in the birth certificate application form.
By making it mandatory for the applicant to fill in the prescribed details in the application form, it also makes it mandatory to the Principal Civil Registrar to issue a birth certificate with the prescribed details and therefore it is an offense to cause to be issued band or to issue a certificate without the prescribed details.
(a) District and Province of birth of the child.
(b) Exact place of birth of child.
(c) Notification number.
(d) Name of child.
(e) Date of birth.
(f) Sex of child.
(g) Name of mother.
(h) Name of father.
Whereas it is mandatory to fill in all the above details in the application form to be issued with a birth certificate there is an exception in the name of the father in current birth registration and inserting the tribe of the child in late birth registration.
Name of the father is only inserted in the birth register of a child if the mother is married to the father of the child under any existing law in Kenya which constitutes a marriage in the African Customary Marriage, African Christian Marriage, Civil Marriage, Hindu Marriage, Islamic Marriage and/ or cohabitation for a period of time which constitutes husband and wife relationship.
Even though there is no need of documentary proof of marital status of single mother of a child in current birth registration, it is mandatory for the mother to provide documentary proof in late birth registration to the registrar as evidence that she is not married to the father of the child.
This therefore must either be supported by a letter from the local chief known to the mother or sworn affidavit by the mother indicating that she is not married to the father of the child.
This is done as a prerequisite in order to avoid parental dispute between the mother and father of the child in future or in inheritance/succession case among siblings in the event of death of both parents.
There are three kinds of birth registration in Kenya
1. Current Registration of Birth.
The first kind of registration is current registration of birth or a notified birth which is registered within six months of the birth of a child.
Under this registration, the Principal Civil Registrar is in possession of birth registers bearing birth records of a particular child whose birth was notified by a registration assistant of a particular sub-location or health institution and a birth notification issued to parents.
This birth notification is issued to parents free of charge by the registration assistant where the birth occurred. Original copy is given to parents while duplicate copy is retained by the issuing office for record purposes. In case of loss of the original birth notification by the parent, they can always be issued with a certified copy by the issuing office however majority maternity institutions in Nairobi except Pumwani Hospital have commercialised this by charging parents a fee as determined by their management.
The Principal Civil Registrar shall issue a birth certificate referred to in the rules and regulations as a certified copy of an entry of a birth record filed in that particular office upon application. However, many a time possession of a notification of birth is not a guarantee of registration of birth of your child as many a parent have realised upon application of birth certificates of their children that records of their births were never forwarded to the Principal Civil Registrar by the respective registration assistants.
Though in some cases, specifically in Nairobi it is not unusual to find birth records were forwarded by registration assistants to the Medical Officer of Health but they were either negligently not registered or lost and were not forwarded to the Principal Civil Registrar. In other eases some registration assistants submit their birth records after the expiry of six months and are therefore time barred.
In case an applicant for this kind of registration is not issued with a certificate of birth upon payment of the prescribed fee which has been accepted and issued with a receipt, the applicant is entitled to a refund of the fee paid for the certificate in case of failure to be issued with the said certificate or to be issued with it at no any other additional charges.
The official fee payable for a notified birth ranges from a minimum ofKShs.50 to a maximum of KShs.130 to the Principal Civil Registrar. However this fee does not include additional KShs.200 payable to the Medical Officer of Health as search fees at the City Council of Nairobi for applicants of children born in Nairobi.
2. Late birth registration
Late birth registration refers to all births which are not registered within six months from the date of birth of such a child.
In support of late birth registration for a child as many of the following documents which are provided in form G. P. 138 A must be produced;
(a) Municipal notification of birth.
(b) Certificate of doctor or midwife who attended the birth.
(c) Child immunization clinic card.
(d) School leaving certificate.
(e) Baptismal certificate.
(f) Identity card or passport.
(g) Letter from employer indicating date of birth.
The applicant must also produce any other document or obtain any certificate that the registrar may in his/her sole discretion require.
Applicants are warned that without production of the documents referred above, the application may, in the discretion of the registrar be refused.
Some of the documents or certificates which may be required by the registrar in support of the listed above are as follows:
(a) Certified letter/delivery book from hospital.
(b) Hospital attendance registers.
(c) Mother’s ante-natal card.
(d) Examination certificate/result slip.
(e) Parents identification documents.
(f) Marriage certificate for parents. .
(g) Elder siblings birth certificates.
(h) ID card printout.
(i) Any other document as applicable.
(j) Physical appearance of the informant/parent/applicant
In a letter by the Principal Civil Registrar, registration authority for a late birth registration is not guaranteed on the production of all or any of the above documents in addition to physical appearance but entirely on the discretion of the registrar as long as he/she is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt on each application depending on case by case basis pursuant to section 8 of the Act.
All in all from the above, it is therefore not surprising to find one application being approved and another one rejected yet they are both supported by the same set of documents because of the discretion of the registrar is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt in one application and not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt in another application which questions the integrity of late registration authority the whole process and to quote one former Principal Civil Registrar ? it?s a favour to be served at Central Division Registry at Sheria House if you are not born in Nairobi district?.
But the most interesting requirement of a late birth registration is a certificate signed by an independent person who has known the child since birth but not related to him/her. It is our belief that only a close relative of a child is capable of doing that or it should be scrapped away altogether as its purpose is not a necessity.
In case an applicant for this type of application is not issued with a certificate of birth upon payment of the prescribed fee which has been accepted and issued with a receipt, the applicant is only entitled to a refund of the fee for the certificate but not for late registration whose authority he/she has caused the Principal Civil Registrar to issue for that particular birth.
Any person applying for late birth registration must also apply for a birth certificate. The applicant must therefore apply both for late registration and certificate of birth issued from a return filed by the Principal Civil Registrar.
Whereas the time limit for current birth registration is six months from the date of birth of a child, the maximum period for late birth registration is 60 years from the date of such birth.
Any person above 60 years of age can only be issued with a letter by the Principal Civil Registrar confirming his date of birth but cannot be issued with a birth certificate. No fee is charged for issuance of this letter.
The fee payable in respect of this service to the Principal Civil Registrar is KShs.l50.However; there is additional fee of KShs.2OO payable to Medical Officer of Health, City Council of Nairobi as search fee for births within Nairobi.
3. Registration of Births Occurring Abroad.
This now brings to us the last kind registration of birth in Kenya. This is registration of birth of Kenyan citizens occurring outside our territorial boundaries. This kind of birth refers to persons who are born of Kenyan parents outside the country for the child to qualify as Kenyan citizen by descent. Should the Registrar of births of Kenyans occurring outside the country be not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that child is not Kenyan then he/she cannot be registered in the register of birth of Kenyans occurring abroad as a Kenyan.
Though, this class of Kenyans have the option of becoming citizens of two countries should their country of birth have laws allowing for dual citizenship for their citizens which is, however, not recognized by the Kenyan constitution or opt to be citizens of their countries of their birth. In support of this kind of registration, the parents of the child must produce both their passports in addition to the foreign certificate of birth in English translation if it is not in English language issued by the country of birth. This service is only available at Central Division Registry based at Sheria House, Nairobi. The fee payable for this service is KShs.50.