Soon after we welcomed our little one to the world we realized that we were caught in the web of confusion that can be navigating the process for varied important documents in T&T. Hence the blog.
In the United States, the birth certificate application process is completed at the hospital and the very important document proving that a new citizen has been born is mailed to the parents within a week. Convenient huh?
Possibly you are logical, and believe that the application process for our birth certificate, which is required to apply for a passport and ID Card, is similar. Incorrect!
In T&T, applying for your newborn’s birth certificate is a two step process – one of which is in person and the other may be done by mail.
Step 1: Registering the Birth
Before your newborn leaves the hospital with you, the MOTHER (as in only the mother) will be presented with a document signed by the hospital indicating that indeed, there was a live birth at their institution. You will need to take this document to the Registrar of Births and Deaths in the district in which the birth took place within 3 months of the birth.
The list of Offices of the Registrar by district can be found here. The hospital WILL tell you which office you need to go to. It is important to note this BEFORE you give birth because, when you are discharged, trust me you will be euphoric/ scared/ focused on the baby and likely, like I was, not listening to the instructions. It is VERY IMPORTANT to call ahead to verify that this is indeed the correct office and to ensure the office will be open on the day you are heading out there. Note that office hours can vary (sometimes by day) and that if there are public holidays, you need to be certain the office is not closed the day before or day after due to the Registrar taking vacation etc.
To Register your child’s birth you will need:
National ID Cards of the parents and informant.
Birth Notification Card issued by the hospital or medical centre.
- Marriage certificate of the parents.
- Electronic Birth Certificates of the parents.
There is no fee for Registering your child’s birth .
If a parent is not born in Trinidad and Tobago, and this is NOT on any state websites at this time, they will need their passport in lieu of the electronic birth certificate.
Note that one parent or the legally appointed guardian are the only people that can Register your child. This means that granny/ grandpa can’t take this action off your lengthy new parent to do list.
If you were not married at the time of the birth, the father’s details can only be entered into the register if both parents attend together to register the birth. If the father’s details are not entered at the time of registration, it may be possible for this to be done at a later date.
For more information on Registering a birth visit TTConnect.
Step 2: Applying for the Birth Certificate
Once the birth is Registered, you can apply for the birth certificate: In person, by mail or online. I never got the online application to work but it is on the Ministry of Legal Affairs Website.
For in person application you head to the Ministry of Legal Affairs building on South Quay, stand in line, pay the $25 fee (cash) and get same via mail. Go early and expect the process to take about two hours for the most. This is the same office where marriage certificates are requested (and death certificates also) so it can be busy. The doors open at 7:30, officers start work by 8am and the cashier at 9am (when I last went). Security and staff are actually quite pleasant considering the sheer volume of folks that can be found there.
The new polymer certificate (introduced in 2016) is, indeed, quite cool. In discussions with the Registrar in my area, the Registrar can request the certificate for you – avoiding this step completely but it takes longer – we needed ours right away for the passport application.
The passport process is also a tedious one but more on that in another post!