Accessing your birth certificate if you were adopted before 30 Dec 2005

Due to legislative changes introduced with the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the process for accessing your birth certificate differs depending on when you were adopted. This page tells you how to access your birth certificate if you were adopted before 30 December 2005 

Do you know your original birth name?

If you don’t know your birth name

What happens next if you were adopted before 12 November 1975 in England and Wales

What happens next if you were adopted after 11 November 1975

I live abroad… Can I still access my birth certificate?

How much does it cost?

Do you know your original birth name?

If so then this is simple. You just need to apply via the General Registration Officer at Southport for a copy of your original birth certificate,  

If you don’t know your birth name

You need to write to the Registrar General explaining that:

  • You were adopted.
  • What your adopted name was
  • Your date of birth
  • You are applying for a copy of your birth certificate under Schedule 2 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

You can also access the relevant form here.

What happens next if you were adopted before 12 November 1975 in England and Wales

The legislation requires that if you were adopted before 12 November 1975 and do not know your original birth name, then you will need to apply to the General Register Office. The GRO will advise you that you need to have a “counselling” appointment before you can receive the information you need to apply for a copy of your original birth certificate. This appointment will normally take place with an adoption advisor at the local authority where you live or the adoption agency that organised your adoption. The Registrar General will explain the available options for where to go for the ‘counselling’ to you in their response.

Many people searching for information might not be happy with the idea of requiring counselling, but in reality this is more of a consultation session. Up until the Children Act 1975 birth and adoptive families had been told identifying information would never be exchanged. This arrangement was therefore put in place to help the adopted person think about the implications of receiving identifying information that not only affects them but also their birth parents and other relatives too. The consultation with an adoption advisor (who is professionally trained) gives you an opportunity to talk about your hopes, fears and expectations, as well as getting advice and information about any next steps you might want to take.

What happens next if you were adopted after 11 November 1975

If you were adopted after 11 November 1975 there is no requirement to see a ‘counsellor’ and the GRO can send you the information you need to obtain a copy of your original birth certificate. You may still benefit, however, from getting advice and support from someone with experience prior to applying for this, particularly if you also intend to apply to the AAA for the records about your adoption.

I live abroad…Can I still access my birth certificate?

If you don’t know your original name or the agency that arranged your adoption, then you can still contact the Registrar General if you live abroad. You can apply for access to adoption records, and the Registrar General can give you information about organisations that can provide the statutory ‘counselling interview/ meeting/appointment’ in your country of residence. You can also travel back to the UK for this appointment, but please be aware that it can take a long time to set the meeting up, so please don’t book travel until this has been confirmed.

How much does it cost?

You will not be charged for the meeting with an adoption advisor or when you access the adoption records held by the AAA. However, you will have to pay for a copy of your birth certificate when you apply for this.

Details of the fees involved in ordering a copy of certificates can be found on the websites of the General Register Offices for England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

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