Every U.S. citizen born in the United States is required by law to have a birth certificate, which is 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, which can cause significant problems later in life, such as when applying for a driver’s license, verifying identity or citizenship, and when applying for a passport. U.S. birth certificates are one of several certified vital records proving your citizenship and identity and not having your name on yours can throw your identity into doubt.
If there is no name on your birth certificate, there are several steps you can take. However, the simplest is to simply change your name.
What Happens When There Isn’t a Name on Your Birth Certificate?
In most cases, babies are assigned names at the hospital, and 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, which means that the name isn’t 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, which they can do by visiting the local health records office in their area to update their copy of the birth certificate. However, many parents are overwhelmed by caring for a baby, may have life problems get in the way, or may simply be unaware of their legal responsibilities. As a result, the original birth certificate with no name is left as is.
While this is often due to accident (but sometimes to processing error on the part of the health records office when registering your birth records), 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 parent’s names in order to obtain a passport and sometimes to get a driver’s license.
How to Correct No Name or the Wrong Name on Your Birth Certificate
The easiest way to correct having no name on your original birth certificate is to go about legally changing your name. While this may seem excessive, the process is required if you don’t 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 vary by state but typically include an original certified copy of your birth certificate, hospital records, school records, certificates of baptism, etc. Notarized copies are not accepted.
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 next day to speed up the process. If you are under 21, you will have to have a parent or guardian fill out the birth certificate replacement form for you.
- Contact the District Court in your county of residence to obtain the appropriate forms including an affidavit. Sign it yourself or have your parents or guardians sign is as appropriate, with the complete reason for the name change/update. If you are filing yourself without the help of parents or guardians, you will have to provide additional vital records or documentation, such as early school records, hospital records, etc.
- Appear in court at the specified date
- Request a certified copy of the judge’s court order
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 birth certificate replacement 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, which you can do 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. For example, if you do not have a name on your birth certificate, you may have to provide extensive school and census records when applying for a passport, driver’s license, or marriage license. Requesting a birth certificate replacement with your full name will simplify proving your identity in the future. However, you won’t get in legal trouble or pay any fines for not having your name on your birth certificate.