JAMAICA| Civil Registration Number (CRN) now a feature of all birth certificates

JAMAICA|  Civil Registration Number (CRN) now a feature of all birth certificates

KINGSTON,  Jamaica July 5, 2021  - The Registrar General’s Department (RGD) is reporting that all electronic birth records now feature a Civil Registration Number (CRN), a code to be used as a unique identifier in linking records of vital events.

With the creation of the CRN as the first phase of the vital events linking process, this means the Department is one step closer towards being able to explicitly link the births, marriage and death of a citizen.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the RGD, Charlton McFarlane, told JIS News that this is a significant step in the 140-year history of the RGD.

“Right now, the RGD cannot explicitly say the same person who has this birth certificate is linked to that marriage certificate and is linked to that death certificate. That, of course, has led to its own challenges in other sectors, including the pensions sector where [difficulty arises in] verifying whether or not the pensioners are still alive,” Mr. McFarlane explained.

“Clearly, they wouldn’t have a death certificate for their pensioners.  They have a birth certificate, but when a death certificate is produced and you can’t match that with a birth certificate, then you can’t really say with 100 per cent certainty that is the individual. So, there are concerns that payments are being made to persons who should not be receiving a pension,” he said.

With the creation of the CRN, the RGD is moving to close what the Department describes as the civil registration loop.

“So, what we are talking about now is to systematically link a person from birth to them becoming parents or to them getting married and them becoming parents and, ultimately, to them dying. So, that is a major outcome and a major achievement for us. It was something that was always on my strategic plan to do, and I am pleased that the team has been able to make the first and most critical step to making that a reality by making and applying the unique identifier to birth records,” the CEO said.

The CRN was created through algorithms by the team of developers at the RGD. It is not an intelligent number nor is it alphanumeric. It is randomly generated, making it more secure and harder for patterns to be established in the code sequence.

Meanwhile, the Department has plans to apply the CRN to more of its database.

“We will take steps to apply that unique identifier to the other aspects of our database, which are our marriage and death databases. Essentially, we have it applied in our database, not on the birth certificate just yet but in our database,” Mr. McFarlane noted.

Currently, the CRN is applied to the electronic database. Before any changes can be made to the physical copy of the birth certificate, the RGD must be authorised by law to have the code printed.

As it exists now, the law does not prevent the Department from creating the unique identifier in its database.

“So, we have gone ahead to do that, but we need the law to say that we are adjusting or tweaking the birth, marriage and death certificates to include the display of the CRN. So, while we wait for the legislative amendments to be accepted and approved, what we are doing in the interim is ensuring that it is there in our database in the back end, so we are able to link the vital events,” the CEO said.

“Ultimately, it is something that will be displayed on the birth and other certificates. However, in order to apply it on the certificate in a public way, we are making some proposals for legislative amendments, and that is also far advanced,” he added.

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