Your birth certificate is a vital document that you will need to prove your identity. A person’s birth certificate states their full name and date and place of birth, as well the names of their parents or legal guardians. You may be required to provide your birth certificate to start a new job, enroll in school, apply for a driver’s license or passport, or get a Social Security card.
It’s important for your birth certificate to be accurate, since it is used to prove citizenship and identity. So, if you have legally changed your name or there is a error on your birth certificate, you should get the corrections made as soon as possible.
Keep in mind, however, that name changes as a result of marriage or divorce, do not require that you change the name on your birth certificate, since you were not born with your married name. State laws on name changes vary, however, filing for a name change on a birth certificate will always require you to go before a judge. They will have to approve your request in order for changes to be made.
How to request a name change on your birth certificate
It is fairly simple to change the name of an infant who is less than one year old. All you have to do is send a filled out and signed birth certificate correction application to the Vital Records Office in the child’s birth state.
However, after the age of one, it is much more difficult to make a name change. First, you have to petition your local county court and get permission to change the name. If your request is granted, then you can file the paperwork and have the changes made.
Each state has a different process to apply for a birth certificate name change. In California, for example, you must place a notice in a local newspaper about your petition and go before a judge to explain why the name change is necessary.
In order to get legal permission to change the name on your birth certificate, you must:
- File a petition to do so
- Pay all of the processing and legal fees
- Go to a hearing and explain why the changes should be made
- Show documentation to support the need for changes. For example, if you changed your name after you were adopted, you will need to provide your adoption decree.
Minors cannot file a name change petition on their own. An adult has to petition on their behalf, and their parents or legal guardians must be informed. In some states, you must provide documentation if you are changing your name due to gender reassignment surgery.
How to make a name change amendment to your birth certificate
After a judge approves the name change, you can submit an application to the Vital Records office in your birth state or county. You must include a certified copy of the court order, payment for all applicable fees, and a certified copy of your birth certificate, along with your completed application. After they make the corrections, the Vital Records office will send you your updated birth certificate in the mail.
Some states create a new birth certificate when changes are made. While other states keep the original birth certificate on file and attach documentation explaining the changes. Some states do both, especially in closed adoption cases where the original birth certificate is kept sealed.
Generally, the original birth certificate is sealed by the Vital Records Office and cannot be accessed without a subpoena or a judge’s permission.