Issues Raised at Meetings of the Ministerial Council

1. Watermarks on Birth Certificates

Concerns were raised at the Inaugural Meeting of the Connacht/Ulster Regional Forum that
the birth certificates of children of non-Irish nationals born in Ireland appeared to bear a
watermark that meant they were not valid birth certificates.

The General Office of Registrations have assured this Office that no such distinction is made
on birth, death or marriage certificates. They have provided the following clarification
regarding the mark appearing on photocopies of birth certificates.

“The Civil Registration Service (the body responsible for issuing birth certificates) has
been engaged in a major programme of modernisation in recent years which included
the introduction of a computerised civil registration system.

As soon as a life event, birth death or marriage, is registered on the system, it becomes
a national record and is available to all local registration offices throughout the Country.
Prior to the introduction of the new Civil Registration Act 2004 and, as part of the
modernisation of the service, all the existing historic records of the Civil Registration
Service were converted to electronic format by scanning or by direct take on of the data
onto the new electronic database.

Very strict safeguards are in place to ensure the integrity of record information and all
certificates are now produced in a secure environment directly from the electronic
database and certified by an authorised office whose electronic signature appears on the
bottom of the certificate. This signature is an electronic signature as defined in the
Electronic Commerce Act 2000.

There are a number of security features encompassed in the certificate paper which is
used for the issue of all certificates, births deaths or marriages and one of the primary
safeguards in the certificate paper is the appearance of the word "INVALID" on any
photocopy of a certificate to indicate that it is not an original certified copy of the
record concerned.

There is no distinction for any member of the community in the matter of the production
of a birth, death or marriage certificate."

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