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Our online benefit claim and calculator will not be available between 7.00pm on Friday 21 January and 9.00pm on Saturday 22 January due to maintenance. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

The Health Secretary has set out the next steps in the fight against Coronavirus. See the press conference at Youtube: Coronavirus press conference (19 January 2022).

Naming ceremonies

A naming ceremony is a very special way of celebrating the birth of your child and welcoming the new arrival into the family and wider community.


There is no longer a legal limit on the number of attendees at civil partnerships or weddings.

However, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver our service safely, the number of people who can attend a wedding and civil partnership at our register offices continues to be restricted and our staff will continue to maintain social distancing until further notice.

In line with the Prime Minister's announcement that England will move to 'Plan B' to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, face coverings must be worn in our register offices from Friday 10 December 2021. Face masks or face coverings are required for all staff and the general public with certain exemptions which include anyone with a health condition or disability, and those under the age of eleven.

You can contact our ceremony team on 03000 266 000 or email for any queries you may have. However, our phone lines continue to be very busy so please bear with us. 

Further guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships can be found at guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships.

It's a unique occasion for everyone to feel involved as they pledge their love and support for your child's future development.

What happens at a naming ceremony?

Naming ceremonies can contain the following sections:

  • introduction and welcome
  • a reading
  • naming of the child (or children)
  • parent's promises
  • promises by supporting adults
  • closing words

There are many ways of ensuring that your child's ceremony is a unique and personal event. You may wish to consider including:

  • reasons for the names you have chosen for your child
  • hopes for the child's future
  • parents' vows to each other
  • grandparents' promises
  • absent guests
  • additional readings
  • presentation of a gift to the child

Who will conduct the ceremony?

An authorised celebrant will carry out the ceremony according to the choices you make. Celebrants are trained and experienced in conducting many different ceremonies so please ask their advice on anything you are unsure about. 

How long does the ceremony last?

A ceremony usually takes about 15 minutes but can last up to 30 minutes if more readings and options are included.

Is there a certificate?

During the ceremony a souvenir record is signed by parents, supporting adults and the celebrant.

Can other children be included at the same ceremony?

Older children, including adopted family members, can also be included in a naming ceremony.

Can other family members have their children named at the same ceremony?

Only children who belong to the same family unit can be included in a specific naming ceremony. Members of your extended family can arrange for a separate ceremony to take place at the same venue on the same day, but not at the same time.

Can a naming ceremony be held at the same time as a civil marriage ceremony?

Yes. A naming ceremony can be held after the marriage ceremony. Please contact us for advice.

Where can naming ceremonies be held?

In County Durham, there are a number of approved premises where naming ceremonies can take place. Ceremonies can also be held at Register Offices in Barnard Castle, Bishop Auckland and Aykley Heads House (Durham). 

Who can arrange a naming ceremony?

The child's parents or anyone else who has parental responsibility or legal guardianship of the child can make arrangements for a naming ceremony. Parents can be married or unmarried. Please note, you must produce the birth certificate(s) when booking the ceremony.

Do naming ceremonies have legal status?

Naming ceremonies have no legal status but are of a celebratory nature. Parents usually choose to arrange one as a public gesture of the love and commitment they have for their child. Unlike a birth certificate, which is a mandatory legal document, the record of the ceremony cannot be used as proof of identification. Neither is the ceremony legally binding on those who take part in it.

Do naming ceremonies have a religious content?

Naming ceremonies are entirely non-religious.

Who should I contact to arrange a naming ceremony?

Information about naming ceremonies is available from Register Offices in County Durham.

Fees for naming ceremonies

When you book you will need to pay a non-refundable booking fee of £40 in addition to the ceremony fees. Any changes to your booking will result in an additional £40 payment.

 Aykley Heads House Durham;
Cockton House Bishop Auckland;
or Galgate Barnard Castle
Licenced Venue
Monday to Thursday£240£265
Sunday/Bank Holiday£325£360
Contact us
Register Office - Aykley Heads House
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Aykley Heads
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5TS

Register Office - Bishop Auckland
03000 266 000
Our address is:
  • Cockton House
  • 35 Cockton Hill Road
  • Bishop Auckland
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DL14 6HS
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