Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Identity theft triggers birth certificate alarm

Published:Sunday | August 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Deirdre English Gosse, the chief executive officer of the Registrar General's Department (RGD), looks through brith records stored at the department.

The Registrar General's Department (RGD) is currently taking steps to restrict to certain categories of persons the right to apply for birth certificates because of increasing incidents of fraud and identity theft.

In some jurisdictions, there are restricted categories of persons who can apply for birth certificates such as parents or attorneys on behalf of their clients.

At present, any member of the public can apply for the birth certificate of another Jamaican if he/she is privy to certain basic information about the individual, including his name.

Deirdre English Gosse, the chief executive officer of the RGD, has revealed that there are no restrictions in the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act barring a customer from applying for anyone's birth certificate.

The RGD has prepared a concept paper to submit to the Ministry of Health, which has oversight for the department. The ministry is then expected to take the submission to Cabinet for deliberation.


She noted that the RGD contemplates that there will be exceptions, for example, a principal who wants to assist a student who is having difficulties getting his birth certificate.

The RGD is also taking steps to regulate the number of times a person can legally change his name.

"We want to put some provision in the law to deal with it," the RGD boss said, indicating that there is no limit to the number of times an individual can change his name using a deed poll.

A deed poll is a legal document that allows an individual to assume a new name and provides documentary evidence of the name change.

It can be used to change a person's first name, surname, add names, change the entire name, rearrange the current name, or simply change the spelling of one's name.