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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/our-work/adoption/facilitating-an-adoption-placement/registering-the-birth-of-te-tamaiti/
Printed: 18/07/2024
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 11/09/2020

Registering the birth of te tamaiti

By law, both parents of a tamaiti born in New Zealand must register the birth through Births, Deaths and Marriages within 2 months of te tamaiti being born.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Registering the birth when adoption is intended

When an adoption placement for the newborn tamaiti is proposed, the birthparents should register the birth as soon as possible. Lawyers who take an adoption consent will usually require a birth certificate for te tamaiti when they witness the adoption consent – birth certificates can only be issued once the birth is registered.

We advise birthparents:

  • that the lead maternity carer (usually the midwife) makes sure that te tamaiti is added to the New Zealand Health Index (NHI) database and assigned an NHI number
  • how to register the birth and obtain a birth certificate.

National Health Index

Both parents must register the birth

Both parents have to complete the birth registration through Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) unless one of them is:

  • unknown
  • dead
  • missing
  • of unsound mind
  • unable to complete the form because of a medical condition
  • overseas and has no delivery address or contact details
  • a danger to the other parent and/or te tamaiti.

How to register the birth

Advise the birthparents they may register the birth online or use a paper form.

Online registration

Birthparents can register the birth on the SmartStart website when:

  • both parents are able to complete the form, or
  • the birthfather is unknown.


Register using the paper form

Birthparents can register the birth using the paper form BDM 27 when:

  • the birthfather is known but can’t complete the online form
  • naming the birthfather places the birthmother and/or tamaiti in danger or distress (they can fill in the birthfather’s details and explain the situation but they don’t need to get the birthfather's signature)
  • the birthmother wants to name the birthfather but they don’t have their consent. In this case, the birthmother must provide evidence the named birthfather is the biological parent, for example, a DNA test or statutory declarations from whānau or family stating that they believe him to be the birthfather and how they came to this belief.

Post the paper form to Birth Registrations, Births, Deaths and Marriages, PO Box 10526, Wellington 6143.

The only situations where a father’s details are not required are if he is unknown or te tamaiti was conceived through Human Assisted Reproduction Technology (HART) and the mother does not have a partner who consented to the procedure – the donor is generally not the father or other parent.

Births, Deaths and Marriages: How to register your baby – Department of Internal Affairs website

Ordering a birth certificate

When the birthparents register their tamaiti they can order a birth certificate at the same time using the same form. The birth certificate will be ready after about 8 working days.

If they didn’t apply for a birth certificate at the time of registration, they can apply for one separately for adoption purposes:

  • by post, using the BDM 93B form
  • in person, at the BDM offices in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch – photo ID is required
  • by phone
  • by ordering online.

There is no charge to register a birth, but there is a fee for ordering a birth certificate.

Order a birth certificate – Department of Internal Affairs website

Availability of pre-adoption birth certificates

Explain to birthparents that once the court makes an adoption order, the pre-adoption birth certificate that records their details as the birthparents will no longer be available to them. If they want a birth certificate that contains their details, they need to make sure they purchase a birth certificate before the final adoption order is made.

When the court makes an adoption order, it instructs BDM to create a new (adoptive) birth registration for te tamaiti that results in a new birth certificate that shows their adoptive parents’ details. The original pre-adoptive birth registration is sealed and te tamaiti can only apply for a copy of their pre-adoptive birth certificate once they turn 20.

Birthparents cannot apply for or receive a pre-adoption birth certificate once an adoption order is made.

Births, Deaths and Marriages: Order a birth certificate– Department of Internal Affairs website


Birthparents may want to protect their privacy during this time. Respect their wishes when interacting with the hospital, midwives, caregivers and adoptive applicants. If they don't want to receive any correspondence at home from the National Health Index or the Birth Registrations office, suggest they can give their postal address as c/o the social worker (and a residential address).