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Birth registration

Birth registration
© UNICEF Tanzania/2009/Pudlowski
Sabri, 5, holds up his birth certificate proudly.

Children under 5 years with birth certificate: 8 percent

In Tanzania, only 3 percent of rural children and 22 percent of urban children under five years have a birth certificate.

The national rate, of just 8 percent has not improved in the last five years, and remains one of the lowest rates of birth certification in Africa.

Official registration of a child’s birth is free - yet even this formal notification of birth is low, at only 16 percent overall, and does not provide parents with the documentary proof that is carried in a birth certificate. To obtain a birth certificate, parents must pay Tshs 3,500 (about US$ 3) – a cost that is prohibitive for many families. 

Recently, birth registration has been made compulsory by law, yet the heavily centralized process prevents many parents from accessing services.

© UNICEF Tanzania/2009/Pudlowski
Ibrahim, 2, received his birth certificate one year after his birth. "I didn't do it before because it was expensive," explained his mother. "But then I realized that it was important to have if I wanted my son to go to school."

Half of all births take place at home and travel costs to district offices where registration currently takes place present significant obstacles.

Many parents are not aware of the value of registering a birth or of obtaining a birth certificate. Experience shows however that when these services are made available close to home, and when parents are well informed, they are keen to ensure their children are registered and have a birth certificate.


The chief challenge for the Tanzanian government is the development of a system that makes birth registration and certification practical, accessible and affordable. 

UNICEF is supporting these efforts to develop and implement a practical, affordable and accessible birth registration strategy for all children under 5 years.



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