Laws of recognition and custody

Now that you are pregnant, a few legal issues must be settled. Below you will find information about recognition, parental authority and registering the birth. More information can also be found on or

Act of recognition

An Act of Recognition is the statement of a man/woman made with the Registrar of Civil Status that he/she takes on the responsibility of being a parent. You can let the Registrar know which surname your child will have.

You can ask for recognition before the birth (recognition of the unborn), during the registration of birth, or at a later date. To do this you must first make an appointment. Please note that the mother must be present during the appointment if the baby will not be given the mother’s surname. In this case, you should register within three working days after the birth, i.e. before the registration of birth. We therefore advise you to ask for recognition of the unborn during your pregnancy.

Your statement is recorded by the Registrar of Civil Status as an Act of Recognition. Recognition may be requested by any Registrar of Civil Status at and Municipal office in the Netherlands, regardless of the address of both parties. An Act of Recognition allows you to select your baby’s name.

What does recognition mean?

  • The man/woman who recognises the child is the legal parent, even if not the biological parent.
  • Through Recognition, parents and child are legal heirs and the parent has a duty to support the child until its 21st
  • In addition, the parent is entitled to access, information and consultation, and can have custody of the child (this does not happen automatically).
  • Through Recognition, the child may receive the surname of the father.
  • Through Recognition, the child may receive the nationality of the parent. This depends on the laws of the country whereby the parent has nationality.

What do you need for the act of recognition?

  • Valid proof of identity of the mother and the parent that will recognise the child.
  • Mother’s permission
  • When applying for Recognition, both mother and the parent that will recognise the child must be present.
  • If the mother is not present: written and signed consent from the mother. The mother must be present when the parent that will recognise the child wants to give his/her surname to the (unborn) child.


Recognition is free, as is the copy you will be given


If you have custody of a child, you are responsible for the care and upbringing of the child, and have a duty to maintenance it. Additionally, you are the legal representative who manages the child’s money and property. In the Netherlands, all minors must be under the authority of an adult. This means that they can not independently make decisions. Usually one of the parents exercises authority, but even non-parents may have custody of a child. Should you have custody of a child, you are obliged to pay that child’s maintenance costs until the child is 21 years old. At 18 years the child comes of age, but an extended service obligation of three years then applies. This means you are required by law to pay the care and study costs of the child. Even a parent without custody is responsible for maintenance.

Are you the father of a child, but neither married to the mother nor registered partners? You will not get automatic custody of your child. If you want joint custody, you can request this at Court. One very important condition is that you have recognised your child. If you are married, the husband is automatically the (legal) father of the child.

The mother and the recognised parent can request joint custody of the child only after the Act of Recognition has been acquired. You can obtain joint custody by signing a statement in the Custodians Register which can be found in the Family and Youth department of the Court.

The mother (if she is of legal age at the time of the birth of the child) has automatic full custody. If the recognising parent wants full custody, both mother and recognising parent must submit a request to the Court clerk. The request may be made to any Court clerk in the Netherlands; the birthplace of the child is not a factor. For joint custody, no time limits are associated with the submission of your request.

Cost of parental custody

Requesting joint custody at court does not cost anything. There are costs associated with documents issued by your municipality which might the court might request when you submit your application.

Registration of birth

You must register the birth of your baby within three days of the birth to the official registrar of the municipality where your child is born. Your child will be officially registered and receive a social security number.

Should you have been in labour in Rotterdam, you must register in one of the city offices. To do this you need to make an appointment by phone (14-010), or online using your DigiD code ( If the mother has given birth in a place other than Rotterdam, you must register the birth in the district where the hospital is located.

If you gave birth at the Sophia Birth Centre, you can register there. You can do this if you are at the birth centre when an official of the civil registry is present. An official of the civil registry visits twice a week.

What do you need to register a birth?

  • Valid proof of identity (passport, (Dutch) identity card, Dutch driving licence, residence permit, W-document) from both the person who registers the birth, and the mother.
  • A statement from your GP or midwife (with the mother’s name, date and place of birth).
  • Name and sex of the new-born baby.

When applicable:

  • Name Act. This states whether your baby will take the surname of the father or (second) mother.
  • Recognition (unborn child): proof that the parent has recognised the baby (if the parents are not married).
  • With this, the baby can be added later on. (Your child may only be credited to a Dutch marriage certificate).
  • A statement of Artificial Insemination from an Unknown Sperm Donor, issued by the Foundation of Donor Information for Artificial Fertilization (when the parents are married/registered partners of the same sex).
  • The municipality of Rotterdam always sends notification of birth registration to:
  • the Provincial Vaccination Registry
  • the Social Insurance Bank (SVB). This is the authority that will pay your child benefits.


Registration of birth is free. For a copy you will need to pay € 12.70 (based on 2015 prices).

Call our emergency number: 010 455 97 09
Call the doctor's line only if no one answers and if it's urgent 0251 26 02 24

Main location
Heemraadssingel 152
3021 DK Rotterdam
tel. centraal: 010 456 83 69

2nd location in Spangen
Hooftplein 45
3027 AW Rotterdam

3rd location in Mullerpier
Sint Jobskade 6
3024 EN Rotterdam