In this article, Éducaloi explains the rules parents must follow when declaring the birth of their child and how to obtain a birth certificate or copy of the act of birth.
Why do I have to declare my child's birth?
Everyone is required to declare the birth of a child to the Directeur de l'état civil. This declaration means that the newborn will be registered in the Quebec register of civil status.
Having a child listed in the register allows her to obtain various important documents, such as a birth certificate, which proves her identity and citizenship, a health insurance card, and a social insurance number. These documents let your child benefit from all the rights and privileges enjoyed by all Quebecers.
What documents are needed to draw up an act of birth?
The Directeur de l'état civil uses two documents to draw up a newborn's act of birth.
The Attestation of Birth
This document is prepared up by the doctor, nurse, midwife or any other person who helped the mother during the delivery. It indicates the place, date and time of birth, the child's gender, the mother's first and family name as indicated on her act of birth, her domicile and the name and address of the hospital where the child was born.
Two copies of the attestation of birth are made. The original copy is immediately sent to the Directeur de l'état civil. The hospital gives the parents the other copy, along with another form to be filled out, called the "declaration of birth".
The Declaration of Birth
This is a document that must be filed with the Directeur de l'état civil by the newborn's parents within 30 days of the birth.
If the parents are unknown or are prevented from filing the declaration for some reason, the person who shelters or takes custody of the child must complete the declaration of birth within the same 30-day limit.
How do I declare my child's birth?
To declare the birth of your newborn, you must complete the "Declaration of Birth" form you received at the hospital or birthing centre.
The form contains instructions on how it should be completed. Essentially, you must provide the following information:
- the child's first and family names, spelled correctly
- the child's gender (male or female)
- the place, date and time of the birth
- the name and domicile (address) of the mother and father
- the family relationship between the person declaring the birth and the child
- the date of birth of the father and mother and, where applicable, the date of their marriage or civil union
If the delivery takes place other than in a hospital or birthing centre, contact the Directeur de l'état civil to find out how to declare the birth of your child.
Also, you can fill out a form called a Request for Simplified Access to Birth-Related Government Programs and Services. This form is provided with the form Declaration of Birth. If you fill out the Simplified Access form, the Directeur sends the information on your child to the Canada Revenue Agency, in part to sign you up for government benefit programs for children, and to Service Canada to give your child a social insurance number.
What happens if I don't register the birth of my child with the Directeur de l'état civil within the 30-day time limit?
Parents must send their child's declaration of birth to the Directeur de l'état civil within 30 days of the birth.
If Directeur receives the declaration of birth after the 30-day limit, the parents will be charged an administrative fee.
How is a child's relationship to her parents established?
The law calls this legal relationship "filiation".
Usually, filiation is established in the act of birth, which is prepared based on the declaration of birth. If the parents are married or in a civil union, only one parent needs to complete the declaration of birth and sign it.
If the parents are not married (they are a common-law couple), it is a good idea for both parents to sign the declaration of birth. This is because, for common-law couples, neither the father nor the partner of the mother, if she has one, benefit from the automatic presumption of being a parent. This is unlike the situation of the husband of a married mother, or the partner of the mother if she is in a civil union: they benefit from the presumption of being a parent.
To learn more about civil unions, see our article Civil Union.
What names can I give my child?
The first name(s) you give your child must respect certain rules:
- You can choose one or several first names, but it is preferable not to give more than four names.
- The name that appears first in the declaration of birth must be the name you intend to regularly use.
- If one of the first names is a compound name, you must insert a hyphen between the two names. If you do not, the two names will be considered as two distinct names.
- One of the parent's family names can be used as one of the child's first names.
- An initial of one of the parent's family names can be used as one of the child's first names.
If you and your spouse cannot agree upon a name to give your child, the Directeur de l'état civil will intervene. It will assign two first names to the child, one chosen by the mother and the other chosen by the father.
What family names can I give my child?
Your child's family name must respect certain rules:
- The child can adopt the father's family name, the mother's family name, or a composite of the two names joined by a hyphen.
- Your newborn's family name may differ from the family names of your other children. This means that children born from the same mother and father can have different family names.
- A family name cannot contain only an initial (e.g.: B-Roy), because this kind of name does not meet the requirements of the Civil Code of Québec. The family names of the mother or father must be written in full so that the child's family name fully reflects the family relationship either to the mother, father or both.
- The child's family name cannot be composed of one of the parent's first names.
- When both parents have composite family names (names joined by a hyphen), you must choose a name that contains only two parts. The child may have the father's composite family name or the mother's composite family name or a family name made up from one part of the father's family name and one part of the mother's family name.Where both parents have composite names, 16 combinations are possible.
For example, if the father's name is John Wagner-Laplante, and the mother's name is Sylvie Colombe-Ladouceur, then the parents must choose one of the following possibilities:
Can the Directeur de l'état civil ask us to change the first or family names I gave my child?
If you gave your child a first name or composite family name (name with a hyphen) that is unusual and might mean your child is ridiculed or not taken seriously, the Directeur might ask you to choose a less controversial name.
If you refuse to change the names you have chosen, the Directeur will still draw up an act of birth, but will notify the Attorney General of Québec. The Attorney General may then ask the court, within 90 days of the registration of the act of birth in the register of civil status, to replace either the first name(s) or family name(s) chosen by the parents with one of the parent's family names or with two common first names, as the case may be. It is the court that makes the final decision on the matter.
How do I get a birth certificate?
To get a birth certificate, you must do two things:
- First, you must complete a "Request for Certificate" form. You can either complete the form online or print out a copy from the website of the Directeur de l'état civil. Otherwise, you can get a paper copy by going to one of the offices of the Directeur de l'état civil or a Services Québec office, or by calling the Registrar.
- Second, you must send the completed form to the Directeur, along with your payment and the documents required.
What should I do if I need a birth certificate right away?
You might need to get a birth certificate urgently, for example, if you need a passport in a hurry.
In these cases, you must make a request for your application to be processed on an urgent basis. You can do this either by going to an office of the Directeur de l'état civil in Montreal or Quebec City, by sending your form by fax or by internet. You will have to enclose certain supporting documents and pay the fee for this type of request.
You can then get a birth certificate within three working days, in addition to the time needed for delivery.
Can I register an act of birth made outside Quebec in Quebec's register of civil status?
Yes. A person can ask the Directeur de l'état civil to register a birth that took place outside Quebec in the register of civil status. The person whose birth is to be registered must have his or her domicile in Quebec. The request can be made by that person or by the parents.
To register an act of birth made outside Quebec in Quebec's register of civil status, the following documents are required:
- the original act of birth made outside Quebec
- proof that the person whose birth is to be registered has his or her domicile in Quebec
- proof that the person asking that the birth be registered (for example, a parent) is domiciled in Quebec
- proof of identity of the person asking for the registration
Once the act of birth made outside Quebec is registered in the register of civil status, it will be possible to get a birth certificate.
To learn more, visit the website of the Directeur de l'état civil.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.