How to correct an error on a birth certificate

Man asking about how to correct an error on a birth certificate

A birth certificate is a vital record serves as proof of identity and citizenship. You will need a copy of your birth certificate to apply for a driver’s license or passport, enroll in school, get married, and apply for government benefits.

It’s important that the information on your birth certificate is accurate, so there are steps you need to take if your birth certificate or your child’s contains an error.

In general, Civil Register entries can only be altered through a judicial order. This means that many errors will require you to file a petition with the court to have corrected.  However, the Republic Act No. 9048 allows for the administrative correction of specific Civil Register entries, meaning that a few types of errors can be easily corrected without going to court.

If you need to correct an error on your U.S. birth certificate,you must first get in touch with the amendments and corrections department of the Vital Records Office in your birth state. They can give you more information on the correction process and what steps you should take to have the error fixed.

Which changes can be made to a birth certificate?

In general, you can correct any information on your birth certificate, as long as it is a clerical or spelling error. So, for example, if your last name is misspelled or your birth month was entered incorrectly, you can apply to fix the error. If there is incorrect information or a spelling error on your birth certificate, or that of your child’s, it’s important to correct it as soon as possible.

However, depending on your state, you may or may not be allowed to submit an application to correct the gender on your birth certificate to something other than your gender at birth. Some states do allow gender changes on birth certificates, while others do not. In addition, while you can change the name on your birth certificate, you will typically be required to provide a court order showing that you have legally changed your name.

Mistakes happen, but if your or your child’s birth certificate has a error, it must be amended. Each state has different rules and regulations for making corrections on your birth certificate. But, we’ll show you which changes can be made and the general process to do so.

The Department of Vital Records is responsible for issuing and maintaining birth records, so you will need to contact the Vital Records Office that created the birth certificate.

They will usually ask for proof of the error and correction. Different types of errors have different correction processes, but your Vital Records Office will be able to guide you through the steps.

Correcting errors on a birth certificate

You are allowed to file a petition to correct any clerical or spelling errors in the:

  • First name
  • Place of birth
  • Day or month of birth
  • Gender

You must file a petition to make the changes at the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO) that holds the record. However, if you no longer live in that area, you can file at the closest LCRO.

If you need to correct a misspelling, you can typically do this without a court order. You will just need to show evidence of the correct spelling.

However, in general, you will need a notarized affidavit to correct a first name, nickname, day or month of birth, or gender.. The affidavit must show proof that the corrections need to be made and indicate that you are competent to testify concerning the error and correction.

Changing a baby’s name

Some parents may decide to go with a different name for their child than the one they originally put on the birth certificate.  While each state has different rules, many states allow parents to change the first name on their child’s birth certificate without a court order. Check out the naming rules in your state for more information.

You are typically just required to fill out a few forms and submit them to the Vital Records Office where the original birth certificate was filed. For more details, you can view the necessary documents for your local Vital Records Office.

Changing an adult or older child’s name

If you need to change the name on the birth certificate for an adult or older child, you are required to file a court order for a legal name change.

Keep in mind, however, that it is not necessary to change the name on your birth certificate if your last name changed due to marriage or divorce.

Changing your first name: You can’t just change your first name for any reason. Changes to the first name on your birth certificate can only be made if:

  • Your first name is excessively unusual, has negative connotations or associations, or is too difficult to pronounce or write.
  • You have been publicly known by a different name for a consistent period of time.
  • The change will be made to help eliminate confusion.

Changing your surname: In order to change your last name on your birth certificate, or make a correction to it, you must get a court order. If it is due to an error, you will need to show proof that the information is incorrect. You may need to hire a lawyer to assist you with this process.

Documents required to petition for a birth certificate correction or change

Correcting your child’s gender or birth date: you must submit medical records, baptismal records, or similar documents showing the correct information.

Changing a individual’s gender: if it is due to a clerical error, the individual must provide a certification from an accredited physician stating that the petitioner has not undergone a sex change operation. However, this is only applicable in states that do not allow gender changes to birth certificates.

For more information, check out: Which states allow gender-neutral birth certificates

Correcting an adult’s first or middle name or birth date: you must submit an affidavit with a childhood or census record and an adult record showing your full name and date of birth or age. Otherwise, you will need a court order.

Correcting a birth certificate for a minor child: the parents will need to submit an affidavit and provide a record from around the time of the birth, showing the child’s name, date of birth, and correction.

Correcting a misspelled surname: you must submit an affidavit, along with a copy of your mother or father’s birth, death, or marriage certificate, whichever one has the correct surname.

Correcting a birth date: you need to submit an affidavit and a childhood record showing the correct birth date.

Correcting a parent’s name: along with an affidavit, you must provide the birth, death, or marriage certificate of the parent whose name is incorrect.

After you have submitted all of the necessary paperwork, the civil registrar will examine your application. If everything is satisfactory, your petition will be posted in a conspicuous place for ten consecutive days. If there is no opposition or concerns, they will examine your petition and come to a decision within five days.

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