A Jamaican citizenship hiccup
Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I’m trying to apply for my Jamaican passport but I have hit a roadblock. I am trying to obtain citizenship via grandparent. After applying for my grand-dad’s birth certificate, I was informed that the birth entry has no surname. He has passed away. How do I obtain his birth certificate under these circumstances to apply for my passport?
These failures by the officers of the registry of births and deaths at the time of your grandfather’s birth to ensure that they met their statutory obligations to obtain all the necessary information from the person reporting his birth for his birth records to be properly recorded, must be rectified by the department which exists today. Clearly, they failed in their duty, as the information that the registrar took did not meet the legislative requirements.
Surely they ought to have known that a mere forename was not sufficient to identify a baby whose birth they were obtaining information to record, and for the family to have his properly completed certified copy of his birth certificate. Their failure has caused the roadblock which you are experiencing.
Now, I am aware that the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) will require you to do all the running around to obtain all and any proof of the fact that the child who was born, on the date specified, of the mother named, in his birth records and his birth certificate is indeed your grandfather. So you must search for family members or close family friends (two people preferably) who knew his father or his mother and who can swear to statutory declarations that they knew them, and the relationship they had with them, and for how long. They would also say that they knew the mother, and when she was pregnant and had her baby, your grandfather, and his name and the surname he used throughout his life.
If they also have information about what schools he attended — primary and secondary — these should be stated as well. You may also be able to obtain some documentary proof that his mother was so and so, and that the names he had when he was registered in the schools and attended them were so and so, and the years when he was in each respective school. You should also find out which church his mother had him christened, and if it still exists, go there and apply to obtain copies of his baptismal record/certificate; first communion and/or confirmation, and indeed, possibly if he got married to your grandmother, then ask when and for a copy of the church record of this. Then go and apply to the RGD for a certified copy of his marriage certificate.
Of course, if your mother is still alive, she would be the ideal person to make one of the statutory declarations about her father’s names. Indeed, she should join you in your application to the RGD for the rectification of his birth records and certified copies of his birth certificate when the correction is complete. The RGD must bear the legal responsibility of its predecessors who failed in the performance of their duty in law to obtain and retain the full and proper records of the complete names of your grandfather when registering his birth. The duty to do so was theirs, and so the current office must do all that it can to cure the defect, and if you produce the statutory declarations of the people I have suggested to you, and your own in support, even with or without your mother being an applicant with you, to them for the correction to be made, then in my view, it behoves them to act in this regard.
If this fails, then you must go to the Family Court of the parish you normally reside in while in Jamaica, and apply to it for a declaration that your grandfather’s names were such and such, and for an order directed to the RGD to rectify his birth records and birth certificate and issue certified copies of the corrected certificate to you. You must produce all the records I listed above, as well as proof from his death and burial records, and if you can get hold of his last, or one of his passports.
Apart from all the above, I suggest that you obtain the services of an attorney-at-law who is well versed in the laws relating to birth records and the operations of the RGD and the Family Court to assist you with the processes. Ask the staff of the RGD and the Family Court office to give you some names of such lawyers and then you can choose which one to retain.
I wish you all the best, and that you succeed in this regard and then in successfully registering as a Jamaican citizen.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women’s and children’s rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to email@example.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.