Introduction

The Minister of Internal Affairs is progressing the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill (the Bill).

The Bill was introduced in 2017. It was put on hold in 2019 after the Select Committee introduced changes to the Bill that would make it easier for people to amend the sex recorded on their birth certificate.

The Minister of Internal Affairs is proposing some improvements to the self-identification process recommended by the Select Committee in 2018 through a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP). You can find the SOP on the Parliament website at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74854/births-deaths-marriages-and-relationships-registration (see the tab labelled ‘SOPs’ to the right).

If passed, the Bill aims to improve digital access to birth, death, marriage and civil union records, and modernise the language of the legislation. It also proposes a self-identification process to amend the sex recorded on birth certificates, with no requirement for medical evidence. For documents relating to these policy decisions, please refer to the DIA proactive release page here: https://www.dia.govt.nz/Proactive-Releases#IA

After the Bill was put on hold, the Working Group for Reducing Barriers to Changing Registered Sex was set up to improve the existing process for changing the sex recorded on a birth certificate through the Family Court. In 2020, the Working Group provided the Minister of Internal Affairs with a report and recommendations on practical improvements to the Family Court process. The Government released its response to the report in 2021. Further information is available here: Working Group for reducing barriers to changing registered sex.

The improved process for people to amend their birth certificate to reflect their gender

The Bill proposes replacing the Family Court process for amending the sex recorded on a birth certificate with a process based on self-identification, with no requirement for medical evidence.

A self-identification process means applicants would no longer be required to go to the Family Court or have medical treatment to physically conform with the sex they want listed.

If the Bill is passed, people will apply directly to the Registrar-General with a statutory declaration, enabling individuals to self-identify the gender to be recorded on their birth certificate.

The Family Court process was considered progressive when the BDMRR Act was passed back in 1995, but is now in need of improvement. It is not inclusive and fails to support people’s autonomy over how their gender is recognised. The Family Court process medicalises a deeply personal expression of self-identity and is perceived as inaccessible by many people.

There is more information about updating the sex recorded on birth certificates in the Frequently Asked Questions page. This includes questions about:

Having your say on the process for amending sex on a birth certificate

The Minister has invited Select Committee to consider the self-identification provisions, including the proposed improvements to these provisions in the SOP. The Select Committee will determine how best to hear from the public. For updates, please refer to the Parliament website at: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74854/births-deaths-marriages-and-relationships-registration.

Factsheets on the proposed process to amend sex on a birth certificate – July 2021

A factsheet about the proposed new process for amending registered sex has been translated into 15 languages. The translated factsheets can be found here:

Better access to Births, Deaths and Marriages information

When the Bill was first introduced in 2017, its main purpose was to make changes to how people can access information in the Birth, Death, Marriage, and Civil Union registers. If passed, the Bill will help government improve access to this information through digital and online channels. This will enable a range of benefits, including improving New Zealanders’ ability to establish their identity, access services and take part in society. These improvements complement wider work by the Department to deliver customer-centred digital government, including work to support the use of digital identity services.

The Bill also makes other operational and minor policy changes and redrafts the legislation to make it easier for readers to interpret.  

The initial briefing to Select Committee in 2018 covers these changes and can be seen here: https://www.parliament.nz/resource/en-NZ/52SCGA_ADV_74854_GA624/526565e2edc030cb347d33d2b1027903b5b80b04

You can find out more about the Bill on the History of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill page.