This article is under review to reflect the family law reform.
In Quebec, parents must declare the birth of their child to a government agency called the Directeur de l’état civil (registrar of civil status). The agency uses this declaration to draw up a very important document: the “act of birth.”
The act of birth identifies the child by name, confirms the child’s citizenship and establishes the family relationship between the child and the parents.
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 many different rights and privileges.
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 by the doctor or midwife who helped the mother during the delivery. It indicates the place, date and time of birth, the child’s sex, the mother’s first and family name (last 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
The newborn’s parents must file this document with the Directeur de l’état civil 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 has instructions on how it should be completed. Essentially, you must provide the following information:
- the child’s first, middle and family names, spelled correctly
- the child’s usual given name, if they have at least one middle name
- the child’s sex (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 Declaration of Birth. If you fill out the Simplified Access form, the Directeur sends your child’s information to the Canada Revenue Agency, in part to sign you up for government benefit programs for children. The Directeur also sends the information to Service Canada to give your child a social insurance number.
What happens if I don’t register the birth of my child 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 the Directeur receives the declaration of birth after the 30-day limit, the parents will be charged an administrative fee.
How is the legal relationship between children and their parents established?
The law calls this legal relationship “filiation.”
Usually, filiation is established in the act of birth (birth certificate). The declaration of birth indicates who will appear on the act of birth as the parents. If the parents are married, or in a civil union, or in a common-law relationship, only one parent needs to complete the declaration of birth and sign it.
If only one parent has signed the declaration of birth and the parents are (or were) in a common-law relationship, the parents must send the following additional documents to the Directeur de l’état civil:
- A sworn declaration by the parent who did not sign the declaration of birth stating that the birth occurred during the common-law relationship or within 300 days of the end of the relationship, if it has ended.
- A sworn declaration by another person stating that the birth occurred during the couple’s common-law relationship or within 300 days of the end of the relationship, if it has ended.
- Any additional documents showing that the parents are (or were) in a common-law relationship.
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 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 required documents.
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 ask the Directeur de l’état civil to process your application on an urgent basis. You can do this online, by mail or by going to an office of the Directeur de l’état civil in Montreal or Quebec City. You will have to enclose supporting documents and pay a fee.
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. That person, or the person’s parents, can make the request.
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, the parents) 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.