Legal Aid: I lost my birth certificate; now I might lose my scholarship

A stressed man. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Your text demonstrates the urgency for you to acquire a passport, yet it is evident that the process hasn’t been easy in trying to acquire one.
  • You sound frustrated and desperate. You are one among many Kenyans who go through this unfortunate ordeal.

Dear Eric,

I applied for a birth certificate in 2010 and then lost it.  On inquiry, there were no records of the same. I changed the place of birth on my identification card using my guardian and then later applied for birth certificate but the registrar refused to process it yet I need to apply for a passport since I have a scholarship. How do I go about it?


Dear scholarship winner,

A scholarship anytime in a person’s moment of seeking academic prowess or expanding their professional horizon is magical. Congratulations!

Your text demonstrates the urgency for you to acquire a passport, yet it is evident that the process hasn’t been easy in trying to acquire one.

You sound frustrated and desperate. You are one among many Kenyans who go through this unfortunate ordeal.

The reasons for such experiences are as diverse as the people, but lack of relevant information and little understanding of government bureaucracy abounds.

Your situation presents several issues to be canvassed, but not all are legal in nature. You have pointed to the following: the right of a person to have properly recognised state identification; the process of birth registration and the linkages between different government agencies; legal mitigation on inconsistent identities originating from record(s) or documents; and the probable scenarios likely to curtail re-processing of a birth certificate.

First, let us agree that every Kenyan has a right to state recognition by documents of identification such as passport, identification card (ID) and any other documents of registration as provided by the Constitution at Article 12 (1-b).

It should also be clear that government agencies, whether in isolation or cohorts are constructed to facilitate not prohibit state services.

In your context, proper reasons from the registrar in Nakuru required to have been provided indicating to you why the birth certificate couldn’t be processed.

This is not legal but individual attitude.

Any state or public official must always remember they are employed to serve the public.

The mandate to register births, the result of which is a birth certificate is on the Registrar of Births.

This office is meant to hold and archive all the birth registers bearing names of children whose birth notifications have either been issued by assistant registrars (who are medical personnel) and national government administration officers in locations, for children born in and out of hospital respectively.

The original copy of the birth notification is issued free of charge to parents, but the duplicate is retained by the two officials mentioned herein, because it is among others, an attendant document towards acquisition of a birth certificate.

The purpose of a birth notification is to notify and confirm to government the entry of a new birth in her population records, hence used to plan for and allocate resources appropriately.

The process of acquiring a birth certificate is easy and largely administrative upon payment of requisite fee.

You are supposed to have several documents to process a new one since you are an adult, including the following: copy of the original birth certificate (if available) baptismal certificate, child immunisation clinic card (if available), notification of birth, school leaving certificates and identity card.

Since you seek replacement, the issue of changed place of birth doesn’t arise, and the county registrar of Nakuru should make reference to the original documents, upon which your first birth certificate was given.

Though this can be impossible if at all you were born in another county, nonetheless, you need to be advised accordingly. It is not clear from your question.

However, if this is the premise to deny you a birth certificate, then administrative confirmation that you are the same person born in point A and presenting yourself as having been born in another, courtesy your National identification card can be remedied by records kept by the chief who is national government officer at the grassroots or by the hospital records, where your birth happened, if at all.

Couple this with a sworn affidavit before Notaries of public or commissioner of oaths at the Judiciary stating you to be the one and same person referenced in the two areas of birth.

Are there circumstances when issuance of birth certificate can be denied, despite this being a constitutional right? To begin with, we acknowledge the discretion of the registrar of births to provide a birth certificate to anyone, with or without birth notification. Second, is when the documents being used to verify a person’s identity have very distinct disparities causing difficulty to ascertain someone to be who they claim. Third, is when the documents given at birth such as birth notification are not submitted to the relevant area registrar of births in good time, especially after six months, making them redundant hence causing unnecessary delay in the process.

Fourth, is the poor filing and archiving of records within relevant government agencies, whose effect is on the service seekers such as you.

Having furnished you with information on how to replace your birth certificate, we hope you will be able to follow through till acquisition of a passport to enable travel for your studies. 

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