Universal Birth Registration

Since 2005, Plan International has helped register 40 million children and influenced laws in 10 countries so that 153 million more can enjoy the rights to a birth certificate


Count Every Child is our initiative to make every girl and boy visible in the eyes of the law while providing them with a first form of legal identity. Around the world, 230 million children have not had their births registered while more than 100 developing countries don’t have well-functioning systems in place to register key life events, like births, deaths and marriages.

The impact of being unregistered is most strongly felt by those who are already on the fringes of society, such as migrant populations or ethnic minorities. Birth registration is the first step towards a legal identity and being able to go to school, get medical treatment, get a job and more.

When children are registered and there is documentation to show their identity, they are better protected from early marriage or from being trafficked and forced to work in exploitative conditions. Furthermore, a strong civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system means a government has the most reliable source of data possible on a population at its fingertips.


As every country has its own unique context, we work with other organisations, both national and international, as well as aid institutions and private companies, to get closer to achieving universal birth registration. Even within a country, the context might be different from one region to another.

Plan International is regularly called on for expertise in birth registration and we sit on the Regional Steering Group for CRVS in Asia and the Pacific alongside the World Bank and UNICEF.

With 14 years of experience implementing birth registration programmes in 52 countries, we have identified three key challenges:

1. Poor coordination among responsible line ministries as well as development partners. Who is accountable in each country?
2. Weak and outdated legal frameworks coupled with poor implementation of existing laws and regulations.
3. Lack of knowledge and understanding among the general population, development partners, media and so on of what CRVS is and why it is important.