change a birth certificate

How To Correct Or Change A Birth Certificate

In October 10, 2014

Updated [4/19/18]: Please note that in order to make a correction to your birth certificate you should reach out to the correction/amendments department at the vital records office that issued the original birth certificate. They will be able to assist you in making the change. The steps below are a guide to follow to help you prepare when requesting a change from the issuing agency, and the process will vary from state to state.

A birth certificate is one of the most important documents that a person will have. It proves an individual’s age, citizenship and identity, and is typically required to obtain a driver’s license, passport and many other legal reasons. As such, making certain a certificate is correct is critical. There are many reasons why a person may need to correct or request a change a birth certificate. The exact process will vary from state to state, but the following information can help you decide the best way to get started—depending on your exact reason for seeking these changes.

Changing a Name for a Child Under One Year Old – This is a very common reason someone may want to change a birth certificate. Each state has different requirements, but parents may be allowed time (up to 12 months in some states) to make changes to a child’s birth certificate without requiring a court order. In most cases, you can bring the original birth certificate to the  vital record office in the city or county where your child was born (generally a department of health or county clerk’s office) and fill out a few forms to make this change. This is often done if the parents have second thoughts on naming the child or they find there is an issue with the parentage.

Changing a Name for Older Child or Adult – As this would typically coincide with a legal change of name, this issue may require a court order. This is different than changing a name due to marriage, which does not affect the individual’s birth certificate. If a person decides to change his or her name for another reason, it will require providing a few important documents and giving the reason behind the change.

Error Correction – Sometimes mistakes happen. If the child’s birthplace, sex, or other information is not correct on the birth certificate, it will be necessary to get changes made to reflect the correct information. This will often require some form of proof in order to validate the change. Each case will be a bit different and the department of vital records responsible for keeping and issuing the birth certificate can help work through this situation.

Spelling – Quite often, spelling issues can be corrected without a court order. The parent (or person requesting, if over 18) will simply have to provide information about the error and possibly offer supporting documents as validation of the correct spelling.

Changing Parentage or Surname – Like changing a name, this is considered a legal change and will usually require a court order. The parent, or the requestor, will need to provide proof that the original information is not correct. In many cases it may be easiest to work with a lawyer who is skilled in these matters.

If you have any further questions regarding how to change a birth certificate, contact the office of vital records responsible for issuing the birth certificate – which is located in the city, county or state where the birth occurred and was recorded. This office can provide you with up-to-date information and help you get started with the process.

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