Ghana: Requirements and procedures to obtain a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births; whether the listed informant can differ between the original entry on the Registry of Births and the digital Certified Copy of the Entry into Registry of Births; whether the date of entry differs between the original date of registration and the entry or issuance date of the digital copy (2020–March 2021) [GHA200527.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Requirements and Procedures to Obtain a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a senior assistant registrar at Ghana's Births and Deaths Registry indicated that in order to obtain a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births, an applicant must apply at any of the Births and Deaths Registry's offices in the country (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). The same source noted that at the Births and Deaths Registry office, an applicant must complete an application form for a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). The same source stated that after an existing entry is found, the applicant must present a photocopy of the birth entry (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). In follow-up correspondence, the same source indicated that if an applicant whose birth has been registered is unable to find a copy of their birth entry, they can apply for a "general search" and a certified copy will be issued if the records from the Registry of Births are confirmed (Ghana 19 Mar. 2021). The same source also stated that an adult whose birth was not registered at the time of their birth can apply for late registration, and that in this instance a certified copy is issued after approval has been granted (Ghana 19 Mar. 2021). The Senior Assistant Registrar indicated that the applicant must then pay a fee (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

The information in the following two paragraphs was provided by the Senior Assistant Registrar:

The verification process validates that there is a corresponding entry and confirms that the name, date of birth, place of entry, and other information all correspond to the entry of birth. Following the verification process, a digital copy is made and printed. It is then issued and signed at the registry and a seal is embossed. The applicant then receives the certified copy at the Births and Deaths Registry office. Only the Births and Deaths Registry is authorized to issue a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births. Offices of the Births and Deaths Registry are located at the regional and district level across the country. An individual can obtain a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births at any office across the country regardless of where that individual resides (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

There is now a mandate to report the birth of a child, but registration of the birth of a child was not always required. [In follow-up correspondence, the Senior Assistant Registrar explained that birth registration became compulsory in 1965 when The Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1965 was adopted (Ghana 19 Mar. 2021).] There is a segment of the adult population whose births were not recorded at the time of their birth and, because of this, there are provisions for the delayed registration of births and for adult registration of births. There are two types of birth certificates: birth certificates and Certified Copies of Entry into Registry of Births. Birth certificates are issued to children from the ages of 0 to 12 months. Parents can later apply at any time for a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births. Adults are not issued a birth certificate and are only issued a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births. There is a limit of 60 years of age for adults to register and receive a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births. After 60 years of age, an individual needs to obtain a judicial attestation, which can be used to apply for a passport or other identity documents that require a birth certificate (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

Sources report that in August 2020 Ghana's Parliament passed the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 2020, which seeks to decentralize the registration of births and deaths by making local administrations responsible for the administration of Births and Deaths Registry facilities at the local level (Daily Graphic 26 Aug. 2020; GhanaToday 28 Aug. 2020). Sources also note that the new law addresses the issue of children born under surrogacy arrangements (Daily Graphic 26 Aug. 2020; GhanaToday 28 Aug. 2020; Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). A copy of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 2020 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. When asked about the impact of the new law on the procedure to register births and to obtain a Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births, the Senior Assistant Registrar noted that "the law has not changed much" and that the new law was created to reflect the "current realities" of birth registration in Ghana (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). The same source indicated that, under the new law, if an individual is unable to record a birth in the 12 months following the birth, they will have 5 years to register the birth (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). The same source also stated that a system of notifications from hospitals and [other] places of birth has been introduced; it requires hospitals to send a notification of each birth to the Births and Deaths Registry office (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021). In follow-up correspondence, the Senior Assistant Registrar indicated that according to the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 2020, the person in charge of a health facility is responsible for notifying the District Registrar or a representative of the District Registrar in the district in which the health facility is located, within seven days of the occurrence of a birth in the facility (Ghana 19 Mar. 2021). The same source also noted that a "traditional birth attendant" is responsible for notifying the District Registrar or a representative of the District Registrar in the district where a birth occurred within seven days of the birth (Ghana 19 Mar. 2021). According to the Senior Assistant Registrar, birth certificates are also now mandated by the new law for entry to school, and schools must inform the Births and Deaths Registry office if a student does not have a birth certificate (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

2. Whether the Listed Informant [1] Can Differ Between the Original Entry and the Issuance of a Digital Copy

The information in the following paragraph was provided by the Senior Assistant Registrar:

Under "normal circumstances," an entry into the Registry of Births is not edited or changed. Some information can be changed during a person's life, such as their name if they change their gender, and in those cases, the registration will be amended. Year and date of birth cannot be changed. After the date of registration, if the informant has died and there is proof that they are deceased, the informant can be changed; otherwise, the original informant is listed on the certified copy (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

3. Whether the Date of Entry Differs Between the Original Entry and the Issuance of a Digital Copy

The information in the following paragraph was provided by the Senior Assistant Registrar:

A Certified Copy of Entry into Registry of Births is "a certified copy of an existing record and of the original information" and "in no circumstances should the date of registration change." Anytime an individual applies for and receives a copy of entry into the Registry of Births, the date the copy was certified is noted, but this is listed as a separate date and "the date of registration never changes" (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] According to the Senior Assistant Registrar, for "most" birth records, the informant [who registers the birth] is the mother or the father, but the informant can also be a "secondary" person, such as a grandparent or another adult relative of the parents and who "has knowledge of the birth"; sometimes "the owner of a residence where a baby is born" may register the birth (Ghana 5 Mar. 2021).

References

Daily Graphic. 26 August 2020. "New Births and Deaths Registration Act to Help Improve Collation of Vital Information for Ghana's Development." [Accessed 10 Mar. 2021]

Ghana. 19 March 2021. Births and Deaths Registry. Correspondence from a senior assistant registrar to the Research Directorate.

Ghana. 5 March 2021. Births and Deaths Registry. Telephone interview with a senior assistant registrar.

GhanaToday. 28 August 2020. Ishmael Batoma. "Parliament Passes New Births and Deaths Registration Act." [Accessed 10 Mar. 2021]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Ghana – Consulate-General in Toronto, Embassy in Washington, DC, High Commission in Ottawa.

Internet sites, including: ecoi.net; Factiva; Ghana – Births and Deaths Registry, Ghana.GOV, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, National Identification Authority, The Presidency, Registrar General's Department, Statistical Service; The Ghanaian Chronicle; Ghanaian Times; Ghana News Agency; GhanaWeb; The Herald [Ghana]; Modern Ghana; Netherlands – Netherlandsandyou.nl; Plan International; UN – Refworld, UNICEF; World Bank; YEN.com.gh.