Gender Recognition Certificates

If you are a trans person who was born in England and you want to change your birth certificate, then you will need to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).  A GRC also formally changes your legal gender for wider purposes under English law, as set out the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

Once a Gender Recognition Certificate has been granted, the General Register Office will issue you with a new birth certificate that records your name and preferred legal gender. This “sits on top of” your original birth certificate at the General Register Office (rather than the original record and birth certificate being destroyed). However, the Gender Recognition Act 2004 makes it an offence for anyone who receives “protected information” (broadly, information relating to a GRC application) in an official capacity to disclose this to anyone else unless certain exceptions apply. Therefore, getting a GRC also gives you certain legal protections in terms of disclosure, information and record-keeping.

You do not usually need to get a GRC to change your name more widely (including on your passport and drivers' licence).  Find out more about how to change your name and gender marker on other documents.

What do I have to prove to get a Gender Recognition Certificate?

To grant a GRC, the Gender Recognition Panel must be satisfied that you:

  • have or have had gender dysphoria;
  • have lived in your preferred legal gender for two years before you make your application; and
  • intend to continue living in your true gender until your death.  

You do not need to have taken steps to transition medically, such as hormones or surgery.

You need to show that you have lived for two years in the gender you wish your birth certificate to reflect (not currently including non-binary identities). In practice the Panel will usually require several pieces of evidence from throughout this time period, which might include things like your passport, bank statements or payslips if they show that you have been living in your true gender for two years. 

You must also provide the panel with two medical reports to confirm you have or have had gender dysphoria. One of these must be written by a registered medical practitioner or psychologist practising in the field of gender dysphoria. The other does not need to be prepared by a specialist and can be provided by your regular GP, though both must be in a specific format.  

What is the process to get a Gender Recognition Certificate?

Until recently the fee for an application was £140, but this has now been reduced to a “nominal” £5. The Government is currently considering whether to create an online application process.  

In order to apply for a GRC you must:

  • complete and sign the right statutory declaration for your circumstances;
  • fill in the appropriate form;
  • gather the relevant evidence (as above); and
  • send your completed application form and fee to the Gender Recognition Panel.

Once your application has been received, it will be assigned a member of the team who may contact you for any further information or documentation needed. Your application will then be passed to a GRP which will comprise a legal or a legal and medical panel member, depending on the type of application you are making. Applications are generally considered on the papers and the Panel may request further information or evidence from you at this stage.

Once the Panel has made a decision this will be sent to you, with your GRC if you have been successful. If your application has been unsuccessful reasons will be provided by the GRP. If you are granted a full GRC, and have a UK birth entry, the panel will send a full copy of the GRC to the relevant register office as soon as it is issued.  A new entry will then be made in the Gender Recognition Register which will be used by the registrar to produce a new birth certificate for you. A free short form birth certificate will then be sent to you by post together with information about how to purchase new full certificates (which also show your parents’ names).

You will also need to inform the relevant authorities and certain government departments about your change of gender – including the HMRC and any organisation that pays you a pension, benefits or tax credits.  

What happens if I am in a marriage or civil partnership?

Your application to the Gender Recognition Panel must include a statutory declaration as to whether you are married or in a civil partnership. Since the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, marriage is available to both same-sex and different-sex couples. You can apply for a GRC if you are married, but (in England) the GRP will only grant an “interim” certificate unless your spouse gives consent to remaining in the marriage.

If your spouse withholds consent then your marriage must be ended, either by divorce or annulment, before you can be issued with a full certificate. If your spouse gives consent, then your marriage can continue (converting from a same-sex marriage to a different-sex marriage, or vice versa) and you can be granted a full certificate.  

What if I live overseas but need an English Gender Recognition Certificate?

If you were born in England but live overseas, you may need an English Gender Recognition Certificate to change your original birth certificate. How this intersects with any processes you need to follow to change your documentation in the country where you live will depend on the specifics of your situation, and getting tailored legal advice is often sensible.

Other effects (and limits) of a Gender Recognition Certificate

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 says that a GRC makes your preferred legal gender your legal gender “for all purposes”, but there are some exceptions to this. The main one, tested in court relatively recently, is in relation to parenthood and birth registration. Section 12 says that granting a GRC does not affect whether the person is the “father” or “mother” of their child.  Find out more about trans parents and legal parenthood.

Have we answered your question? Would you like advice on your personal circumstances?

Email us at hello@ngalaw.co.uk or call on 020 3701 5915 and we will explain how we can help.