Boy being baptised and link to Baptismm page


There are few legal and administrative requirements around baptism services. However, this page provides information and resources to help with common queries. 

The relevant Canons concerning baptism are on the Church of England website.

Parents and godparents can be referred to the Christenings pages on the Church of England website to help them learn more about what to expect. 

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Clergy are obliged to prepare families (parents/guardians and godparents) for a baptism service to be satisfied they understand the lifetime commitment of the baptism promises. How this is done and for what length of time is at the discretion of the minister taking the service but be aware the Canons are clear the baptism should not be ‘unduly delayed’.  

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Data Collection

Due to the nature of baptism and the commitment made by the candidates, or the parents and godparents on their behalf, maintaining contact with the family after the service to support them on the journey of faith is especially relevant. When you collect the family’s personal data to administer the service, check their permission for this ongoing contact. 

The Life Events Diary feature on the Church Organiser tool can help you do this lawfully and support you with many other administrative tasks associated with baptism services. 

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The Church of England Canons outline that no fewer than three godparents must be present at the baptism of each child. At least two of these should be of the same gender as the child. 

The Canons also state that ‘when three cannot conveniently be had, one godfather and godmother shall suffice’, although this is to be taken as the exception rather than the norm. Parents/guardians may be godparents for their own children/wards provided that the child will have at least one other godparent. 

Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other ways of connecting people into live church services are wonderful ways of involving others who are too far away, or too unwell, to attend. However, a minimum of two godparents must be physically present at the baptism service. Additional godparents can, however, take part in baptism preparation via video conferencing if necessary as long as at the baptism the congregation is able to see all those who take on the responsibilities of godparents and can clearly hear their responses. Read the Church of England legal opinion on the presence of godparents at baptisms for more details

Official godparents must be baptised and preferably confirmed too, but if this is not possible, the Canons allow for people who are baptised but unconfirmed to be godparents. 

People who are chosen by the parents/guardians to be godparents but who are not baptised can still be involved in the service as supporting friends. They may be called ‘honorary godparents’ but their names are not entered in the baptism register.  

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Further resources for baptisms

From Church Support Hub

For more about welcoming families for baptism preparation, read Why baptism preparation is a rehearsal and so much more

Learn about the missional importance of supporting godparents and how to run a Godparent Sunday event

Other Resources

See all the printed baptism resources that are available through Church House Publishing. 

If you are producing baptism literature and would like it to match nationally-produced resources, you can download the Christening logo pack (zip file 1.7MB). Logo colour variations and a Style Guide is included. 

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Can I baptise a child who doesn’t live in the parish?

Yes. However, you must seek the goodwill of the family’s parish priest before you perform the baptism in your parish. 

Do the parents/guardians of infants being baptised have to be baptised themselves?

There is no requirement for the parents/guardians to be baptized. But they should feel able to support the child in their faith journey, and this may eventually lead to conversations about their own baptism.

May I charge for the baptism certificate?

No fees are payable for baptism itself or for entering the baptism in the Register of Baptisms. The fee prescribed in the table of parochial fees for a certificate issued at the time of baptism is payable only if a certified copy of the entry in the register is asked for and provided. No fee is payable by the family for a commemorative card. 

Is there a maximum limit to the number of godparents?

There is no official maximum number, but deciding on what is practical both on the day of the service, and in terms of the ongoing role of godparents, may be something to cover in baptism preparation. There is helpful information for parents about choosing godparents on the Church of England’s christenings website.

Is there a minimum age for godparents?

There isn’t a minimum age, but the chosen godparent must be mature enough to understand the responsibilities they are taking on. 

Can someone be a godparent by proxy?

There is no provision in the Church of England for ‘godparents by proxy’. A person can only be an official godparent if they participate and make promises at the service. 

As they are already making promises on behalf of the child, to have another person making promises on their behalf confuses who is making promises on behalf of who. 

Someone has contacted us about reversing or cancelling their baptism – is that possible?

Sadly, some people may contact your church to enquire about whether their baptism can be annulled, and whether their details can be removed from the baptism register. Neither of those requests can be fulfilled. As permanent historical and legal records of fact, baptism registers must not be changed. The enquirer can be informed that the registers are merely a record of an event that took place, and not an indication of church affiliation or membership.

Someone has contacted us asking if their choice of godparents can be changed years after the baptism has happened. Is that possible?

There can be no repeat baptism service once it has taken place, and there’s no official way to change the godparents. The baptism register must not ever be changed. 

However, if a family finds themselves without the support of their chosen godparents, they are free to ask others in their life to take on a similar role unofficially. 

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Last updated

Published June 2024 / Next review date June 2025