Whether your name has been misspelled, your birth certificate doesn’t have a name, or you want to correct your name after a legal name change, there are many reasons to make changes to your birth certificate. Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to modify your birth certificate. You will have to apply to change your birth record, and in some cases, you will be denied. However, this article will walk you through the steps to take to update U.S. birth certificates, including the documentation you will need to do so.
Reasons for Changing Your Birth Certificate
There are three primary reasons to change your birth certificate:
- No Name on Birth Certificate – Your name was not registered with the health records office within one year of your birth. Your certified birth certificate displays your parent’s but not your name. You will likely have to change your name and get a new birth certificate
- Misspelling / Incorrect Name – If your name was misspelled or a processing error caused a wrong name (such as Simon instead of Simone). You can order birth certificate replacement with a correction
- Legal Name Change – You have legally changed your name with a court order. Please note, if you have changed your name because of a marriage, you do not have to make changes to your birth certificate.
Documents Needed to Change Your Birth Certificate
Changing your original birth certificate means updating your legal name, as it is registered with the vital records office and the U.S. government. This means that whatever is on your birth certificate is technically your true name.
Most states allow you to submit a correct form to attempt to update the name on your birth certificate without acquiring a court order. This process typically costs between $10 and $40 in most states and will vary depending on the state.
- Original certified copy of your birth certificate. You can order online birth certificates at VitalRecordsOnline. You can sometimes get your birth certificate next day if you need to expedite the process.
- Application form for your state. Check your state health department or vital records office or call them.
- Documentation. You will need original certified copies of documents such as marriage certificate (parents), hospital birth records, early school records, baptism certificates, etc. If you have had a legal name change, submit a certified copy of the court order.
- Submit your application with a signed money order or check. Most states do not accept cash.
If your application is not approved, you will have to get a legal name change to update your birth certificate. You can do so by contacting your local district court in your county or residence. Request the forms for changing your name and an affidavit form. You can sign this yourself in case the name change is personal or your parents or legal guardians are not available. However, the process goes more quickly when parents or legal guardians sign the form and submit legal and certified vital records on your behalf. You will then have to appear in court to complete your legal name change. Once you have a certified court order for your name change, you can re-apply for the birth certificate correction. You won’t be able to get a fast birth certificate replacement with a name change, so expect the process to take 2 or more weeks.
Can I Order a Birth Certificate Online? – If you cannot or do not wish to go to the vital records office in your state of birth, you can order a birth certificate online. VitalRecordsOnline will submit the birth certificate replacement form on your behalf. You will need your photo ID and documentation and must be 21 or older to do so.
How to Make Changes on Your Passport
If your passport data is incorrect, you can quickly and easily correct the data providing you have a certified copy of your birth certificate, a photo ID, and your original passport. The Department of State accepts name changes, fixing spelling and printing errors, and changes based on court or personal preference. Fees will change depending on the reason you are updating your passport.
- Form DS-11 or Form DS-5504 available here
- Proof of identity and citizenship (Original passport, certified birth certificate, court order of name change, marriage license, etc.)
- Fee (Ranges from $0-$145 depending on speed and age of passport
Do I Have to Make Changes to My Birth Certificate?
You don’t legally have to update your birth certificate, even if the name isn’t the one that you go by in everyday life. However, the name on your birth certificate must match the one on your ID and your passport if you want to use it as legal identification. In addition, your certified birth certificate name is your legal name, you will have to use it for financial and identifying reasons. If you are not happy using the name on it, then ordering a replacement birth certificate with your new or real name is the best option.