Parental Recognition

Up to date information for Ontario’s LGBTQ Parents

On January 1, 2017, parental recognition in Ontario changed with the All Families Are Equal Act. We are proud to have consulted closely with Ontario’s LGBTQ parents, prospective parents, gestational carriers and surrogates, and with the provincial government, and we continue to advise the government in implementing the new legislation.

We are continually updating our information on the legislative changes to parental recognition.

The latest information is always on this page. Sign up for our newsletter for updates as we have new information.

If you need individualized information or help please e-mail us and we can schedule a phone appointment or in-person appointment to help you. As always, please do not send private or confidential information or copies of your children’s birth registration by e-mail. We value your privacy and e-mail is not secure.

Latest Updates

Please use the downloadable paper form to be recognized as “Mother” “Father” or “Parent” on your child’s birth registration.

We have added information about the updated paper Statement of Live Birth (Form 2) and a downloadable form below.

Most LGBTQ families are either not eligible for or cannot be accurately and appropriately recognized through the Newborn 4-in-1 Bundle. If you register through the online bundle, your child’s birth certificate will read “Mother” for the person who gives birth, “Father/Other Parent” for another parent.

We have added the form to file with Service Canada to obtain a Social Insurance Number for your child.

If you have specific questions not answered here, please contact us.

Last updated: December 2017.

New Legislation – All Families Are Equal

Ontario’s LGBTQ parents now have much better and easier access to accurate and appropriate parental recognition, with fewer barriers.

  • There is no longer a distinction between types of parents. A parent who gives birth will not have more legal rights than a parent who did not give birth.
  • Sperm donors are recognized as donors, not as parents. A legal case has already been decided where a donor was recognized as a donor and not held responsible for child support.
  • Multiparent families no longer need to go to court in order to recognize up to four parents from birth.
  • The legislation is written in language that recognizes the range of gender identities in our communities.
  • It is not longer necessary to go to court to recognize parents through surrogacy in most cases. When there is a surrogacy agreement in place, and all parents and the gestational carrier or surrogate agree, the parents and the carrier or surrogate can sign affidavits after the baby is at least 7 days old, and the parent or parents will be able to register the birth.
  • Adoptive parents now have inclusive titles to choose from, including “Mother” “Father” and “Parent.”

We are very pleased with the changes that this legislation has brought for LGBTQ parents across Ontario.
This legislation was enacted January 1, 2017.

The legislation affects all births registered after January 1, 2017.

If your child was born or adopted prior to January 1, 2017 and you are interested in finding out more about changes to a birth certificate that might be possible now, please contact us.

Information about Donor Agreements

Under the All Families Are Equal Act, The definition of a sperm donor as a donor and not a parent gives guidance to Ontario’s family courts in making decisions around child support, custody and access.

In a recent decision, a sperm donor was recognized as a donor and was not held responsible for child support. In this case, the donor and the recipient did not have a written agreement, and the child was conceived through sexual intercourse. However, both people had a clear intention for their relationship to the child and the court acknowledged a donor as a donor, and not a father who should pay child support.

This is a very positive decision for Ontario’s LGBTQ families and known sperm donors.

The case is known as M.R.R. v. J.M., 2017 ONSC 2655, and is available online.

Birth Registration for LGBTQ Parents

This information is current after January 1, 2017.
Last updated: December 2017.

At this time, we recommend that all families, including adoptive families, use the following process:

  1. Use the PDF birth registration form
  2. Order birth certificates
  3. Apply for your child’s Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  4. Register for the Canada child benefit

 


1. The PDF birth registration form:

You must fill out one of the following forms, available from the Government of Ontario or from our library.

  • Statement of Live Birth (With 1 or 2 parents)
  • Statement of Live Birth (With 3 or 4 Parents)

Follow the instructions on the forms carefully, you may wish to refer to our Birth Registration Info Sheet which has detailed instructions for completing the Statement of Live Birth Form.

When your application is complete, mail the complete package, including relevant supporting documents, to ServiceOntario using the instructions on the form.

The PDF birth registration will allow you to register with inclusive parental titles (mother, father, parent), register one, two, three or four parents, register a birth through surrogacy, and register a child with a single name if your child is eligible.

Register as “Mother” “Father” “Parent”

If you use the 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle, your child’s birth certificate will read “Mother” for the parent who gave birth and “Father/Other Parent” for the parent who did not give birth.

Parent(s) who do not wish to have the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father/other parent’ appear on their child’s birth registration  must fill out the PDF form.

When filling out the forms, parents can choose to be identified as ‘mother’, ‘father’ or ‘parent’.

Register a birth through surrogacy

Parents to a child born through surrogacy or gestational carriage can be recognized without a court process if:

  • You have a surrogacy agreement before your child is conceived
  • The gestational carrier or surrogate obtained the appropriate independent legal advice
  • the person who carried the pregnancy agrees to name you as the parent(s) at least 7 days after the child is born

You can now register your child’s birth with these forms:

  • Statement of Live Birth (1 or 2 parents) OR Statement of Live Birth (with 3 or 4 parents)
  • Statutory Declaration by Surrogate
  • Statutory Declaration by Intended Parents

The registration does not require a court order as long as you meet all the legal requirements. If you do not meet all the legal requirements, you can still pursue a declaration of parentage, which is a court order. More information is below.

Register a Child with One, Two, Three or Four Parents

You can now register your child’s birth with these forms, without a court process:

  • Statement of Live Birth (1 or 2 parents) OR Statement of Live Birth (with 3 or 4 parents)

The registration does not require a court order as long as all parents agree and your child is registered with up to four parents at the time of their birth.

If your child was not registered with all their parents at their birth, you can still pursue a declaration of parentage, which is a court order. More information is below.

Register a child with a single name

You can register a birth with a single name if your child’s culture, or yours as a parent, has a tradition of single names.

To do so, you will need to complete the birth registration form appropriate to your family.

You can now register your child’s birth with these forms:

  • Statement of Live Birth (1 or 2 parents) OR Statement of Live Birth (with 3 or 4 parents) AND:
  • Request for a Birth Registration with a Single Name

Register a baby with a last name different from the parent(s)

You can register a baby with a last name different from the parent(s) (if all parents agree), by completing one of the forms below:

  • Statement of Live Birth (up to 2 parents)
  • Statement of Live Birth (With 3 or 4 Parents)

Mail all completed forms and documents to:

Office of the Registrar General
P.O. Box 4600
189 Red River Rd
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 6L8

Mail all completed forms and documents to:

Office of the Registrar General
P.O. Box 4600
189 Red River Rd
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 6L8
For more information on registering a birth under the new parentage rules, please call the Service Ontario contact centre at 1-800-461-2156 (outside Toronto) or 416-325-8305 within the GTA.

Once your child’s birth is registered, typically within 16 weeks, you can complete the next three steps:

The latest information we have available from ServiceOntario indicates a 16 week process for birth registration using the paper form, although actual wait times vary.

2. Ordering Birth Certificates

The online form to order birth certificates has not yet been updated to reflect the changes in birth registration.
We encourage you to use the paper form in and to visit this page to learn more about ordering Ontario birth certificates.

To order a birth certificate for your child you will need:

  1. your first and last name, mailing address, and phone number
  2. child’s information on the birth certificate:
    • first, middle, and last name, date of birth, sex and city of birth
    • information for all parents
  3. payment for the certificate

Types of Birth Certificates

There are now three types of birth certificate:  a short form, a birth certificate with parental information, and a long form.

All three are valid identification, but they include different information. Some passport applications require a long form birth certificate. Check the Passport Canada list of acceptable documents to ensure you are ordering the correct version.

If you are unsure which one you will need, please check with the Ministry, government agency, or person requesting the document before you order. Most families will need a long form birth certificate for their child in some situations, but a short form birth certificate is used for every day purposes, and the new birth certificate with parental information will be useful at other times. You will probably want to order all three.

Short form birth certificate

A short form birth certificate includes basic information and can be used as identification. It includes this information:

  • last name (please refer to our note below about single names)
  • given name(s)
  • date of birth
  • certificate number
  • birthplace
  • sex
  • date of registration
  • registration number
  • date issued

Ontario’s short form birth certificates are printed on a secure polymer material for safety and durability.

NEW!
Birth Certificate with Parental Information

The birth certificate with parental information includes all the basic information from the short form birth certificate and can be used as identification.

Information included:

  • last name (please refer to our note below about single names)
  • given name(s)
  • date of birth
  • certificate number
  • birthplace
  • sex
  • date of registration
  • registration number
  • date issued

Additional parental information included for up to four parents

  • Title: Parent (does not specify mother or father/other parent)
  • Place of birth: (City, Province in Canada, or City and Country if outside Canada)

Ontario’s birth certificates with parental information are printed on a secure polymer material for safety and durability.

Long form birth certificate

A long form birth certificate is a certified copy of the birth registration.

LGBTQ parents are more likely to encounter situations where they need a long form birth certificate to prove their relationship to their child.

For information on birth certificates with parental information, please contact the Service Ontario contact centre at 1-800-461-2156 for all of North America (areas outside of Toronto), 1-416-325-8305 in the Greater Toronto Area and Internationally or TTY 416-325-3408.

Costs

Short Form Birth Certificate – $25

Birth Certificate with Parental Information – $25

Long Form Birth Certificate – $35

How To Order
Download and complete the form, and then print it.

To order the Birth Certificate with Parental Information, you will need to write on the bottom of page one of the form.

“Birth Certificate with Parental Information – $25.00”

Use a blue pen on page one:

Order by Mail

Complete the form and mail it to:

ServiceOntario
189 Red River Road, PO Box 4600
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 6L8

Payment can be by cheque, money order, or credit card.

Note: sending a personal cheque will result in an additional delay of 10 business days (2 weeks) until the cheque has cleared for payment.

Order by Fax

Fax the order form to:
1-807-343-7459

Payment must be by credit card.

Order in Person

Visit any Service Ontario location with your form.  Bring your printed form with you, in case your closest Service Ontario does not have the updated forms yet.

Find a location near you for location and hours information.

Payment can be in cash, debit, money order, or credit card. You cannot pay by cheque.

More Information

The Birth Certificate with Parental Information is a very new product for ServiceOntario. Do not be surprised if staff helping you at ServiceOntario have not been informed that it is available.

You may want to bring this webpage printed out with you to show the staff.

You can also share the contact information below:
For information on birth certificates with parental information, please contact the Service Ontario contact centre at 1-800-461-2156 for all of North America (areas outside of Toronto), 1-416-325-8305 in the Greater Toronto Area and Internationally or TTY 416-325-3408.

Updated: December 22, 2017

3. Request a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a nine-digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits. Once you have received your child’s birth certificate, you can request their SIN.

If you are a Canadian citizen, a newcomer to Canada, or a temporary resident, you need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada or to receive benefits and services from government programs.

A SIN is issued to one person only and it cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are responsible for protecting your SIN. Store any document containing your SIN and personal information in a safe place—do not keep your SIN with you. Service Canada is now issuing SINs on a paper letter, and has stopped issuing plastic cards.

You may be told to that you need to request your child’s SIN through the Newborn Registration Service. If this happens, let Service Canada staff know that you cannot use this process.

A SIN is issued to one person only. It cannot legally be used by anyone else. You are responsible for protecting your child’s SIN. Store any document containing your child’s SIN and personal information in a safe place—do not keep it with you. For more information on how to protect your SIN, please refer to Service Canada’s publication, Your Social Insurance Number: A Shared Responsibility!

4. Sign up for Canada child benefits

You can sign up for Canada Child Benefits at a Service Canada point of service at the same time as you apply for a SIN.

Visiting Service Canada

Gather the documents you need and take them to the nearest Service Canada point of service. If everything is in order, you will get your SIN during your visit.You will need to bring: 

  • the child’s birth certificate
  • your own SIN or original proof-of-identity documents if you do not have a SIN

In almost all cases, you will be expected to visit Service Canada in person. Services are offered in person, on the spot, with no need to mail personal documents or wait for information. You will receive a printed letter with your child’s SIN on it during your visit – the plastic SIN cards are no longer issued.

If you cannot visit:

Mail services are very limited. For more information, visit the Service Canada website.

In these situations, you may be eligible to apply by mail:
1. Individuals living 100 km or more from the nearest Service Canada office, in an inaccessible area or where outreach is very infrequent may apply by mail.

2. Individuals who have other extenuating limitations that prevent them from visiting a Service Canada point of service and who cannot use the assistance of another individual to submit an application on their behalf may be eligible to apply by mail. In most cases, you can send someone to Service Canada for you.

3. Individuals outside Canada can apply by mail.

Call 1-800-206-7218 (select Option #3) to determine if you are eligible to apply by mail.

 

Not Recommended:
Online 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle

We are recommending that you do not use the online 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle. Many LGBTQ parents are not eligible to use the bundle, and others are not accurately recognized.

Parents who did not conceive through surrogacy and wish to be registered easily and quickly online with the titles “Mother” and “Father/Other Parent” can still register their child’s birth using the online 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle.

With the 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle, eligible parents can do all of the following with one transaction:

  • register your newborn
  • get a birth certificate
  • apply for a social insurance number (SIN)
  • ­sign up for Canada child benefits (including Ontario child benefits)

Please note:

While the terms “mother” “father” “parent” and “father/other parent” are legally the same, most parents are appropriately recognized with “mother” “father” and “parent.”

If you use the Online 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle, you will receive your child’s birth registration with the terms “Mother” and “Father/Other Parent” listed.

If you choose to do this now, changing it later will be extremely difficult, time consuming, and may not be possible.

Families with more than two parents cannot use the 4-in-1 bundle.

Families whose children are born through surrogacy cannot use the 4-in-1 bundle.

Most LGBTQ parents are not eligible or cannot receive appropriate and accurate recognition of their families by using the 4-in-1 Newborn Bundle at this time.

We expect LGBTQ families will be able to use the Newborn 4-in-1 Bundle at some point in the future, but we do not know when this service will be available.

Last updated: December 2017

 

Useful Contacts and Links

ServiceOntario

For more information on registering a birth with inclusive titles, please call the ServiceOntario contact centre:

1-800-461-2156 for all of North America (areas outside of Toronto)

416-325-8305 or 416-325-3408 in the Greater Toronto Area and Internationally

ServiceOntario Call Centres

Call centre staff can help with birth certificate order information and other routine details.

Call centres are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm, excluding holidays.

 416-326-1234 or Toll-free: 1-800-267-8097

TTY: 416-325-340 or Toll-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095

e-mail contact form

Your MPP

Your MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) has staff in their office in your community to help you as their constituent.  As a representative of your riding, your MPP and their staff can help you find services that are available to assist you. MPP constituency staff are particularly useful in helping you with issues involving ServiceOntario, ODSP, Ontario Works and other provincial programs and services.

Look up your MPP here.

Service Canada

Service Canada’s staff at their point of service locations can help you with your child’s SIN and Child Tax Benefit.

To find your nearest Service Canada office, visit this website.

Passports for Children

More information on children’s passports is available from the Government of Canada website.

Your MP

Your MP (Member of Parliament) has staff in their office in your community to help you as their constituent.  As a representative of your riding, your MP and their staff can help you find services that are available to assist you. MP constituency staff are particularly useful in helping you with issues involving Service Canada, Canadian Revenue Agency, Employment Insurance (including parental leave) and other federal programs and services.

Look up your MP here:

Parliament of Canada: Full list of current Members of Parliament (MPs)

Elections Canada: Search by postal code

This set of public legal education resources helps LGBTQ parents understand legal recognition of parents in Ontario, find out what options are available to them, and pursue legal recognition of their families.

Appropriate and accurate family recognition is always in children’s best interests.
Please note the information below is not yet updated to reflect the current Ontario laws.

The significant changes are:

  • Second parent adoption is no longer necessary for most families. Parents who conceived with a known donor  no longer need to complete a second parent adoption in most cases.
  • Declarations of parentage are no longer necessary in surrogacy or to name more than two parents at the time of birth.

Both second parent adoption (or stepparent adoption) and declarations of parentage are available to parents who are changing the recognized parents or adding to a child’s recognized parents.

Three Paths to Parental Recognition

  • Birth Registration

    Simplest

    • Completed soon after birth by a parent or parents
    • Provides proof of parentage for up to four parents when a preconception agreement is in place
    • Provides proof of parentage when a preconception known donor agreement is in place.
    • Provides proof of parentage when a preconception surrogacy agreement is in place and the gestational carrier (or surrogate) has had independent legal advice
    • No cost
  • Second Parent or Stepparent Adoption

    Recognizes a second parent

    • One parent is already recognized through birth registration and wishes to add a second parent.
    • It is not clear that stepparent adoption can be used to add more than a second parent.
    • The parents must be in a spousal relationship, as defined by the Family Law Act – this does not mean married.
    • Any parental rights of formerly recognized parents have been relinquished, or will be relinquished through the adoption process
    • Children over the age of seven give informed consent to their adoption by a second parent
    • Provides definitive proof of parentage, recognized internationally
    • Court process that requires independent legal advice for each person who is relinquishing rights or sharing rights.
    • A lawyer can pursue a second parent adoption for you, or you can complete your own forms using our self-help guide and file them with the court yourself to minimized the costs.
  • Declaration of Parentage

    Most flexible

    • Judges rule on a declaration of parentage with the interests of the child as the guiding principle
    • Formerly a routine part of surrogacy and still available in circumstances where an uncomplicated birth registration is not possible.
    • The birth registration may or may not have been completed
    • Parents do not need to be spouses, as defined by the Family Law Act
    • Any parents could pursue a declaration of parentage at any time, for any reason
    • Provides definitive proof of parentage
    • Court process that generally requires a lawyer to obtain a court order from a judge on behalf of the parents.

Birth Registration in Ontario

This info sheet helps LGBTQ parents register the births of their children in Ontario. It provides information about the birth registration process and helps LGBTQ people anticipate and resolve some of the challenges they may encounter.

  • There are two ways to register a birth in Ontario:

    1. Online Newborn Registration Service
    2. Paper Statement of Live Birth (Form 2)

    This info sheet provides step-by-step instructions to help LGBTQ parents and their birth attendants navigate the process of registering their child’s birth using the Statement of Live Birth form.

    This document has been updated to include recent changes to the Statement of Live Birth.

    At this time, most LGBTQ parents are not able to use the Online Newborn Registration Service, commonly called the 4-in-1 Bundle.

    Table of Contents
    • Information for Birth Attendants
    • Information for LGBTQ Parent
    • Donor sperm, eggs, embryos
    • Two mothers
    • Conception with another parent’s egg
    • More than two parents
    • Sole parents
    • Surrogacy
    • Trans Parents
    • Notice of Live Birth
    • Statement of Live Birth
    • Online
    • Paper
    • Glossary
    • Frequently Asked Questions
    • Three Paths to Parental Recognition
    • Contacts
  •  

    Birth Registration in Ontario: LGBTQ Parenting Recognition

    Download .PDF from our library

Updated Statement of Live Birth

  • statement-of-live-birth-form-2016-thumbnail-full

  • The Government of Ontario has updated the paper birth registration form to allow all parents to self-identify as Mother, Father, or Parent, regardless of who gives birth.

    This Statement of Live Birth form is available for parents who cannot or do not wish to use the online 4-in-1 bundle. The Statement of Live Birth form can be used by parent(s) who do not wish to have the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father/other parent’ appear on their child’s birth registration. Instead they can use this form and choose to be identified as ‘mother’, ‘father’ or ‘parent’.

    The form is available in our library.

    This Statement of Live Birth form is available for parents as an interim measure to give parents the option of easily recording the title of their choice. The Government of Ontario is committed to making changes that will allow most parents to register their child’s birth online and apply for other services at the same time.

    If you are seeking a declaration of parentage, you must also use the paper Statement of Live Birth. You use the paper Statement of Live Birth after the court order declaring parentage has been issued.

    The Birth Registration info sheet below has more information, please feel free to contact us if you need any more information or help completing this form.

  • Second Parent Adoption in Ontario

    This info sheet helps LGBTQ parents to understand the second parent adoption process in Ontario. Most LGBTQ families hire a lawyer to pursue a second parent adoption on their behalf, while others have filed the paperwork for a second parent adoption themselves after seeking appropriate legal advice. This info sheet explains what second parent adoption is and how the legal process works.

    For instructions on how to complete a second parent adoption yourself, refer to our Second Parent Adoption Self-Help Legal Guide, below.

    Table of Contents
    • Overview
    • Birth Registration and Second Parent Adoption
    • Second parent adoption is an option
    • When second parent adoption is not an option
    • Legal Process
    • Independent Legal Advice
    • Changing your child’s name
    • Glossary
    • Additional Resources & Contacts
  •  

    Second Parent Adoption in Ontario thumbnail

    Download .PDF from our library

  • Declarations of Parentage in Ontario

    The most flexible form of parental recognition.

    This info sheet helps LGBTQ parents to understand the declaration of parentage process in Ontario. Most LGBTQ families hire a lawyer to pursue a declaration of parentage on their behalf.

    Table of Contents
    • Overview
    • Legal Process
    • Surrogacy
    • More than two parents
    • Recognizing an Established Parenting Relationship
    • Other scenarios
    • Precedents of interest
    • Additional Resources & Contacts
  • Declaration of Parentage in Ontario thumbnail

    Download .PDF from our library

Second Parent Adoption:

Self-Help Legal Kit

Several families have successfully completed their own second parent adoptions over the past two years using the instructions provided in the Self-Help Legal Guide.

Use these step-by-step instructions to:

  • complete the paperwork required for a second parent adoption
  • obtain independent legal advice for parents and sperm donors
  • file your own second parent adoption paperwork with the court
  • The Second Parent Adoption Self-Help Legal Kit includes very detailed instructions, worksheets and electronic copies of all the forms you will need to file to complete your own Second Parent Adoption in Ontario.

    The partially completed forms will help you get started, and we have prepared a set of completed sample forms as an example of the finished application.

    Full Kit

    • Self-Help Legal guide
    • Worksheet
    • Partially completed forms
    • Completed sample application
  • Second Parent Adoption - Self-Help Legal Guide Thumnail

    Download the entire kit from our library – free!

  • Self-Help Legal Guide

    Self-Help Legal Guide

  • Worksheet thumbnail

    Worksheet

  • Partially completed forms thumbnail

    Partially completed forms

  • Completed sample application thumbnail

    Completed sample application

Need more information?

Our FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions – page includes more information about parental recognition in Ontario.

For additional information about these resources, please contact:

Andy Inkster

Health Promoter
(416) 324-4100 ext. 5276
ainkster@sherbourne.on.ca

 

Acknowledgments

The Birth Registration in Ontario Info Sheet expands on and replaces a brochure titled “Info on Birth Registration for Lesbian/Bi/Queer Women in Ontario” which was developed in partnership with Queer Parenting Programs at The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Family Service Toronto, the LGBTQ Parenting Network at Sherbourne Health Centre, and members of the communities we serve.

The LGBTQ Parenting Network is grateful to Jen Keystone for suggesting the Second Parent Adoption Self-Help Legal Guide as an information project we should take on.

We are also grateful for the work of Kathryn Palumbo and Michael Morgenthau, two law students who contributed to this project in their role as volunteers for Pro Bono Law Students Canada at the University of Toronto.

Other members of our communities, including Alison Dover, j wallace, and Joanna Radbord, contributed to this project as well.

Disclaimer

This public legal information is provided as a community resource. Every effort is made to ensure that this information is as current and accurate as possible, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Readers should verify the information before acting on it.  We welcome reports of errors and omissions as well as suggestions.

This information is not legal advice. For legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer.