By law, every U.S. citizen born in the United States needs to have a birth certificate. Birth certificates are issued at the time of their birth and formalized within 1 year. Unfortunately, many people either have no birth certificate or a birth certificate with no name. This can cause significant problems later in life. For example, when applying for a driver’s license, verifying identity or citizenship, and when applying for a passport. U.S. birth certificates are certified vital records proving your citizenship and identity. Not having your name on yours can throw your identity into doubt. Therefore, it is wise to learn how you can update the name on your birth certificate.
If there is no name on your birth certificate, there are several steps you can take. However, the simplest is to change your name.
What Happens When There Isn’t a Name on Your Birth Certificate?
In most cases, parents give names to their babies at the hospital. Then, the hospital record of birth is used to create a birth certificate. However, parents have up to a year to give their baby a final name. That means that the name is not always on the original birth certificate. When this happens, parents are legally obligated to add the name to the birth records within the first year of the child’s birth. They can do so by visiting the local health records office in their area to update their copy of the birth certificate. However, many parents neglect to do that. Either because they are overwhelmed by caring for a baby or because they may have life problems. Another reason might be that they simply are unaware of their legal responsibilities. As a result, the original birth certificate with no name remains as is.
Often, this happens due to accident. Sometimes, though, it can be due to a processing error on the part of the health records office when registering your birth records. However, it will have important consequences for you as an adult. For example, you need a certified copy of your birth certificate with your legal name and parents’ names to obtain a passport or a driver’s license.
How to Update the Name on Your Birth Certificate
You can go about legally changing your name to correct having no name on your original birth certificate. This is a necessary process if you do not legally have a name or the name on your birth certificate is wrong. Some states will allow you to submit a form of Birth Certificate Correction providing you have the right supporting documents. These can vary by state. Typically, they include an original certified copy of your birth certificate, hospital records, school records, certificates of baptism, etc. Notarized copies are not acceptable.
If your parents or legal guardians are available to sign an affidavit, have them do so. If not, you will have to submit a self-affidavit, which is a longer process.
- Order an original certified copy of your birth certificate. You can order online birth certificates at VitalRecordsOnline. In some cases, you may be able to get your birth certificate on the next day to speed up the process. If you are under 21, a parent or guardian should fill out the birth certificate replacement form for you.
- Contact the District Court in your county of residence to obtain the right forms including an affidavit. Sign it yourself or have your parents or guardians sign it as needed. Include the complete reason for the name change/update. If you are filing yourself without the help of parents or guardians, provide additional vital records or documentation. These include early school records, hospital records, etc.
- Appear in court at the specified date.
- Request a certified copy of the judge’s court order.
Additional Steps in the Process
Once you have a court order, you can follow through on the process of changing your name or updating your name on your birth certificate.
- Contact the vital records office in your state and request a new birth certificate.
- Provide an original certified copy of your birth certificate and a certified copy of the court order.
- Write a letter explaining why you are changing your name.
- Pay fees and/or dues associated with the name change.
In most cases, your request for a replacement birth certificate should process within 2 weeks.
My Child Is Less Than 1 Year Old and Has No Name on the Birth Certificate
If your child is less than one year old, you can easily add their name to the birth certificate. This is because you typically have up to 1 year to legally register your child’s name on their birth certificate. You can do that with your local health register. Simply visit the office and update the name. You will have to bring your own proof of identity as well as the original birth certificate.
Do You Need a Name on Your Birth Certificate?
Not necessarily no, but it does make proving your identity more convenient. Otherwise, you will need other documents to prove your identity. For example, to apply for a passport, driver’s license, or marriage license you may have to provide extensive school and census records. Requesting a birth certificate replacement with your full name will simplify proving your identity in the future. However, you will not get in legal trouble or pay any fines for not having your name on your birth certificate.