Obtaining proof of identity in the ACT

Obtaining proof of identity in the ACT

Contributed by Anusha Goonetilleke, former Supervising Solicitor of Street Law, a program of Canberra Community Law, with acknowledgement to Liam Meagher for his assistance, and current to 1 June 2021. Reviewed by Lydia Edwards and John Alati, Supervising Solicitor, Street Law.

Sometimes people need to obtain forms of identification (such as a driver licence, birth certificate or proof of identity card). This can be difficult if the individual has little or no documentation with which to establish their identity.

ACT Birth Certificates

There are no clear legal requirements on how a person must establish their identity when applying for a birth certificate (ss 45 and 46 Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 (ACT) and dictionary definition of 'birth certificate'), instead this area is dealt with through departmental policies around identity verification.

Under Access Canberra's procedures at the time of writing, a person may complete an online application for a birth certificate, and the certificate will be sent by registered person-to-person post. When collecting the package at the post office, the person will need to show identification.

Otherwise, if a person applies for a birth certificate in person or by mail, they will need to provide 3 forms of proof of identity, including one 'primary proof of identity'. Driver licences, birth certificates, Australian passports, foreign passports with a current visa, and proof of identity cards, are examples of primary proof of identity. Contact Access Canberra if you cannot meet those requirements. Often it is helpful if you are able to produce other documents that can identify you, such as a Medicare card, Centrelink health care card, or a statutory declaration from a support agency that has been working with you for a number of months that can verify your identity.

If you apply for a birth certificate in person you must provide your actual identity documents. If you apply for a birth certificate by mail you can provide copies of your identity documents. However, they must be certified as true and correct copies by a person authorised under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 (Cth) such as a justice of the peace, solicitor or police officer.

There are some circumstances when a person can apply for a copy of someone else's birth certificate. This is outlined in Access Canberra's Births, Deaths and Marriages Certificate Access Policy

It is important to note that this information is applying for a birth certificate in the ACT. Different procedures apply in other states and territories.

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