Civil registration is the act (process) of registering births and deaths in a country to capture data on the population trends. This is done for easier planning of government departments in rendering services to the public and to establish causes of death for public health department.
The fundamental problem we must address in Kenya is the dilapidated state of the birth registration highway. No road signs, pot holes, blind corners, creaking bridges and the unmotorable steep hills which the applicants of certificates of birth and death for individual records have to travel.
In this regard there is nothing mechanically wrong with the civil registration vehicle but there is serious civil engineering defect of the road. True; some of the drivers are a little wobbly if not outright drunk to reach their destinations coupled with rowdy manambas and unruly passengers trying to get to the driver?s seat leave a lot of ·Kenyans frustrated.
But we at Protocol Documentation Services shall remain in the matatu and engage the rowdy manambas, unruly passengers and drunk drivers while trying to repair the road. In this journey and road reconstruction we will not forget the sober drivers, polite manambas and courteous passengers traveling the same road.
J. E. O. Ayieye
CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
Protocol Documentation Services prepared this information booklet through its experiences with the Principal Civil Registrar?s office. This information booklet is developed with the aim of providing relevant and practical information on birth registration in Kenya. It is not meant to be used as an official reference material by members of the public/applicants.
We acknowledge with deep appreciation the outstanding contribution and support of Impact Chemicals Ltd and Milson Loss Assessors without which we would not have travelled this far in this journey of reconstruction.
The following indivuals deserve special mention for their invaluable contribution towards the distance so far covered in this journey: Mr. Julius Mokaya, Mr. Juma Okumu, Dr.G.K Onyango, Mr. Albert John Muchiri, Mr. Shawn Kimani, Mr. Patrick Omoro, Mr. Jackson
Passarellah, Ms Winnie Atieno, Mr. Michael Ombija, Mrs. Nelly Omondi, Mr. Joel Kabaiku, Mr. John Gitau and lastly Ms. Hellen Njoki for her emotional support.
Finally special thanks to Electoral Commission of Kenya whose experiences gave insight into institutional problems facing young Kenyans in registration as voters due to lack of Identification Cards which eventually gave birth to our involvement as facilitators in application and processing of birth certificates.
This information booklet is dedicated to our goodwill ambassadors; customers who have kept their belief, confidence and faith in us whose both happiness and frustrations are shared with you.
Birth Registration Defined
Birth registration is the process of registering a child?s birth and this is the first right of any child after birth. Birth registration not only guarantees a child?s right to a name and Nationality, but is also the first legal acknowledgement of a child?s existence and the first requirement for fulfillment of a wide range of other rights. Birth registration entitles a child to a birth certificate which is issued from an entry or returns compiled by the registrar of births which is a ticket to citizenship. Without a birth certificate a child does not officially exist and therefore lacks legal access to the privileges and protection of a Nation.
This is made not only national but global by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely ratified International human rights treaty, recognizes birth registration as a fundamental human right.
Immediately after setting forth the child?s most basic and fundamental right (the child?s inherent right to life in Article 6) the CRC recognizes the right to birth registration in Article 7 and states "the child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name and the right to acquire a Nationality."
Birth registration enables an efficient government to determine the number of children born in a year and therefore plan the number of schools, health centres and other services required. On a national level, a complete registry of births is essential for effective demographic data base and resource planning.
Although birth certificate alone does not guarantee that a child will have access to adequate healthcare, receive education and other services or be free from abuse and or exploitation, its absence leaves a child at significantly greater risk of a range of human rights violations.
Registration of birth and issuance of a certificate of birth has wider range of implications. Apart from being the first legal acknowledgement of a child?s existence and ticket to citizenship and nationality, a certificate of birth is fundamental to the realisation of a number of rights and practical needs such as:-
(a) Ensure that children enroll in school at the right age.
(b) To prevent child labour by enforcing laws relating to minimum age for employment.
(c) To effectively counter the problem of forced marriage for girls before they are legally eligible without proof of age.
(d) Getting a passport.
(e) Getting an educational, health and or insurance policy cover for a child.
(f) Opening a bank account for a child.
(g) Protecting a child orphan from being disinherited by guardians/ relatives
(h) Ensure that children in conflict with the law are given special protection and not treated (legally) and practically as adults.
(i) Protect children who are trafficked, including through repatriation and family reunion.
Although birth registration can be achieved in a variety of ways, the registration of birth of a new born child typically is facilitated by the local hospital where the child is born or the community healthcare worker present at birth
If the birth does not take place in a hospital or is not presided over by a community health worker, the parents are expected to report the birth of their child to the nearest government office or government health centre to register the child as soon as possible after birth.
The law governing registration of births in Kenya is known as the Births and Deaths Registration Act Cap. 149 Laws of Kenya. It came into force in l928 with its commencement date on 9th June l928 as Births and Deaths Ordinance.Before then ordinances in local councils (authorities) had the force of the law, however after this, the Minister in charge was empowered to apply the law throughout Kenya though legal notices. The Attorney-General was appointed the first Minister in charge and who subsequently appointed the Registrar General as officer in charge of registration of births and deaths throughout the country assisted by a deputy registrar general and as many assistant registrar generals as possible to carry out its mandate.
The mandate of the Registrar General was:
(a) Registration of births and death.
(b) Preservation of births and deaths records.
(c) Issuance of birth and death certificates.
(d) Production of births and deaths statistics.
The Act empowered the Minister in charge to create and gazette through legal notice each registration area and its registration officer pursuant to section 5 (2) of the Act.
However, whereas all other local authorities were revoked as registration areas by the 1928 Ordinance, City Council of` Nairobi was never revoked as a registration area and has continued to issue ordinances regarding registration of births and deaths in it?s area of jurisdiction and to levy independent fees parallel to the fees payable to the Principal Civil Registrar for services of civil registration with it?s last order on fees effective 1st November 2008.
On 12th March 1963, the first legal notice regarding registration of births of Africans was made making it compulsory for registration of births of all inhabitants of both Nairobi and Nyeri districts as registration areas .Whereas this legal notice created Nairobi district registration area, it too exempted the revocation of City Council of Nairobi as a registration area thus creating two registration officers in one registration area; Medical Officer of Health and Registrar General. This was done as a pilot study to find out whether it was really possible to register births and deaths of Africans.
According to the births and deaths rules and regulations, there were four municipalities (local Authorities) gazzetted as registration areas, thus Nakuru Municipality1/7/ 1965, Eldoret Municipality 1/7/l968, Kisumu Municipality 1/1/1967 and lastly Kitale Municipality on 1/1/1969 .Through subsequent legal notices the Minister in charge abolished them and amalgamated them with their rural counterpart areas to form one registration area according to their administrative district boundaries, therefore as is currently constituted there is no local authority gazzetted as a registration area in Kenya .
On September 1971, the Minister published the last legal notice making it compulsory for the registration of births and- deaths in the entire country in the remaining districts.
It was noted that the Attorney General?s office has no personnel and a network at the grassroots to reach each and every corner of the country to register births hence the introduction of Community Based Registration Programme, a triangular partnership between the Attorney General?s office, Office of the President and the Ministry of Health.
This was introduced on 1st January 1982 with Nyeri and Murang?a districts as pilot registration areas. It proved so successful that currently almost all districts are covered by the programme
This triangular partnership created agents for the Registrar General?s office where assistant?s chiefs and medical records officers of all sub-locations and health institutions became registration assistants by registering births and deaths within their respective areas of jurisdictions and institutions.
Eventually in 1990, all registration functions were transferred from the Attorney General?s office to the Office of the President with the ultimate creation of the Civil Registration Department on 1st July l990.The Minister in charge appointed Principal Civil Registrar as the registrar of births and deaths in the entire country assisted by many district civil registrars and assistants as possible to carry out its mandates.
The core functions of the civil registration department are to
(a) Registration of births and deaths.
(b) Preservation of birth and death records.
(c) Issuance of birth and death certificates upon application.
(d) Production of birth and death statistics.
Registration Of Birth
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 Registration of Birth:
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.
Birth Certificate Application Procedure
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.
This is insertion of the name of a father of a child of a single mother in the birth register after birth registration had been done.
It is mandatory for the parents of the child to apply for a birth certificate without the father?s name first before re- registration is done.
Both the mother and the father of the child must present themselves physically before the registrar for an interview and to consent that they are the parents of the said child.
In support of re- registration of birth of a child, both parents must produce a marriage certificate or swear a joint affidavit (FORM LO2 in the absence of a marriage certificate), joint application for re-registration sworn by both of them (FORM LO1), original identification cards and copies in addition to the original birth certificate without the father?s name with no amendments.
Change Of Name:
Change of name of a child whose birth has already been registered can only be done before 2 years from the birth of the child but not after more than 2 years. If the child is older than 2 years and a name had already been inserted in the birth register of that particular child, then no change of name can take place, nonetheless you can add a name on already existing names but you cannot remove a name from the birth register.
However, complete change of name for a child who is older than 2 years of age or removal of any name from the register can only be done through deed poll upon attainment of majority age. Before this is done, the same must be published in Kenya gazette notice indicating the reasons for change of name.
Upon receiving a formal application of birth certificate filled in form B4, the Principal Civil Registrar shall search for the particular birth record for assessment in their registry as the custodian of birth records either for payment or late registration.
In the service charter of department of civil registration the fees payable for various services ranges from Kshs.5O to a maximum of Kshs. l 50 as provided by the Principal Civil Registrar. However, the above covers only the fees directly payable to the Principal Civil Registrar without mentioning other additional costs which must be met first before seeking the services of their office.
In practice members of the public in Nairobi District who apply for services at the District Civil Registrar?s office at Sheria House pay additional Kshs.200 to City Council of Nairobi as search fees for their birth records. Therefore as applicants in all other districts all over the country pay a maximum of Ksh.l50 to be issued with birth certificates, Nairobi district applicants pay additional Kshs.200 to City Council of Nairobi making the total fee payable for a birth certificate at Kshs.350.
The double payment for Nairobi District applicants originates from the duplicity of two officers as explained earlier as registrars of births that is Principal Civil Registrar at Central Division Registry and Medical Officer of Health at City Hall.
What is ironical in the fees payable to City Council of Nairobi because the Medical Officer of Health is registrar of birth for Nairobi, is that staff who do the registration are seconded by the department of civil registration, Principal Civil Registrar?s office, Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons to that particular local authority to do the work. This is a case of civil registration department sowing the seeds and the city council of Nairobi reaping the harvest.
Nairobi is therefore the only district in the entire country where applicants of birth certificate pay for one service twice to two different offices at Central Division Registry (Sheria House) and City Hall.
Whereas this is an anomaly that has been severally pointed out to both the Principal Civil Registrar and the Minister in charge as it contravenes the Births and Deaths Registration Act, no office has bothered to rectify this situation. In Nairobi we have two registration officers for one registration area thus Principal Civil Registrar and Medical Officer of Health at City hall contrary to births and deaths registration regulations.
Other than the above quoted fees as the official government fee for civil registration services, there is a lot of prohibitive cost towards obtaining a birth certificate from respective district civil registrars? office that has hampered birth registration.
The most common prohibitive cost of obtaining a birth certificate is the distance involved between the farthest parts of the district to the district civil registrar office at district headquarters. This long distance coupled with bad roads make bus fares to be very high hence no one bothers to follow up on their certificate even after registration.
The other factor is government bureaucracy which has made many people to shy away from applying for registration of births of their children where an applicant is made to travel more than two or three times to the district headquarters to apply for a birth certificate. This has made many people not to bother about registering their children and applying for their birth certificate in addition to the tell tales they have heard from those who have had an experience before.
Another factor which is the greatest but never given attention by the government is lack of information and awareness. This lack of information has bred misinformation regarding birth registration.
Whereas corruption is a very varied term and does not only refer to bribes and or favouritism it is not unusual to find, that two different applicants with the same set of documents for either birth registration/ birth certificate application one is turned away for lack of one requirement or another while another one is served and issued with the a birth certificate. In other instances one is served at the Central Division Registry while the other applicant is turned away to go to his district of birth. In the words of a former Principal Civil Registrar it is a favour to be given service at the Central Division Registry at Sheria House if you are not born in Nairobi.
Another factor is the requirement that all births occurring outside the country must be registered at Sheria House in Nairobi. This has hampered registration of births of children occurring in neighboring countries because residents of border districts not only share extended families across the neighbouring states but also amenities like hospitals and other facilities. This service should be spread across the country to be rendered by all the District Civil Registrars because it has been overtaken by circumstances it was meant serve 80 years ago in this era of global village.
Duplicity of offices such as the partnership between Principal Civil Registrar and Medical Officer of Health has given the City Council of Nairobi authority and a blank cheque to withdraw money from the public charges of up to an astonishing Kshs.3500 for registration of current death in order to issue a burial permit.
This therefore makes Medical Officer of Health the only registration assistant who charges for registration of death in the entire country contrary to the births and deaths regulations.
Another case of ambiguity with the civil registration department services is Nyandarua District which has its administrative headquarters in Ol Kalou with respective service office located at Nyahururu.
Whereas the registry office is located at Nyahururu, it?s service charter directs one to Ol-Kalou. This lack of information and awareness on the part of civil registration department regarding the registration of births is the greatest handicap of all.
Whereas there is uniformity of statutory forms for registration of all kinds of birth, there are some exceptions which applicants only become aware of only at the District Civil Registrars? offices.
Some of these forms include B3 for late registration introduced in 1982, questionnaire which is meant for residents coming from border districts, form for Principal Immigration Officer and the forms for re?registration thus LO1 and LO2.
Whereas the use of the first two forms other than the ones mentioned in form GP. 138A for the late birth registration is understandable, the form for Principal Immigration Officer determining one?s immigration status of Kenyan citizens before being registered for late birth is superfluous.
According to International Organisation of Migration (I.O.M) website, an international immigration advisory organization, no person can travel from one country to another without a valid traveling document which is issued upon production of birth certificate as the mandatory and primary identification document by the issuing country. We therefore find it discriminatory to compel an applicant validly registered under the Registration of Persons Act to prove his/her immigration status as a prerequisite before being issued with a birth certificate for it beats the purpose for which he was issued with a National ID in the first place.
The statutory affidavit forms for re-registration which are issued by the Principal Civil Registrar that is LO1 and LO2 must be signed by an advocate and commissioner of oaths before the application birth is re-registered. The fee paid for this service varies from one advocate to another and is therefore unaffordable to poor parents who would like to legitimize registration of their child. This role should be taken over by the Principal Civil Registrar as is done by the Registrar of Marriages to cushion parents from unnecessary and prohibitive costs.
Whereas majority of Kenyans owe their citizenship status to the country by birth, certificate of birth is issued to each and every person who is born and registered within the territorial boundaries of our country.
This therefore means that just like any person who claims Kenya citizenship by birth through their Kenyan parents, children born of non Kenyan parents in Kenya also qualify for Kenyan citizenship by birth depending on their resident status.
However, the above doesn?t apply to children born of diplomatic and international non-governmental organisation staff in Kenya as they enjoy diplomatic immunity which is not enjoyed by other immigrants in Kenya.
Adoption of children is done by the office of the registration general department of marriages. In case of adoption children, an application is made to a magistrate which either grants or rejects the adoption order requested by the applicants who are mostly couples herein specifically refers to man and woman who are husband and wife.
Once the order has been granted by the magistrate, the details of the child are then confirmed by the registrar of births and the register marked ADOPTED before being forward to the registrar of marriages who endorses the adoption order.
Once a child has been adopted, the child can use the names of the adopted parents as a surname and the child enjoys all the benefits accrued to birth registration as outlined in the importance of birth certificate above.
- Aliens Registration Act, Govt. Printers Nairobi
- Adoption Act, Govt. Printers, Nairobi
- Births and Deaths Registration Act, Govt. Printers, Nairobi.
- Citizenship Act, Govt. Printers Nairobi
- GOK/Plan International/Unicef Report on The Second
- Eastern and Southern Africa Conference on Universal
- Birth Registration (26-30 September 2005) Mombasa, Kenya
- Immigration Act, Govt. Printers, Nairobi
- Marriages Act
- The Day of African Child, Daily Nation 24th June 2003