Step-by-step Guide to Changing Name on Birth Certificate

While many people would consider this a trivial task, wanting to change name on birth certificate is actually tricky. Generally, a birth certificate that’s been registered in England and Wales can not be changed. The birth certificate is considered a matter of fact and is a historical record that has the facts at the time it was made.

However, there are still some exceptions to this rule. There are cases in which you can have a correction made to an existing record. Now, the GRO, or General Register Office, won’t charge you a fee for a re-registration of birth, or a correction to a birth certificate. However, you will need to pay for the new birth certificate, as well as in any situation where supporting documentation is required.

That being said, say you want to change the name on a birth certificate. How would you do this? We’ll do a step-by-step guide on that in a minute, but before we do so, let’s take a look at what situations allow you to do this.

When Can you Make a Change on a Birth Record?

The birth certificate can only be corrected when the information on it is wrong. You can’t correct it to show new information if the circumstances have changed after you have registered a birth. Therefore, if for example, you want to correct your child’s name, you can only do so if it was spelled, or copied, wrong. And even in that situation, you will need to somehow prove that the name on the record is wrong.

You should show that that is not what you intended to call your child at that time. To have the certificate corrected, you will need to show that the information was wrong, and you will have to have documents that clearly show the correct information. These documents must be valid and should be dated around the date of birth.

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Now, even though a correction has been made, the information on the original birth record will remain like it was initially. However, a note will be written that explains what the correct information should be, as well as the date on which the correction was made. Any certificates that are issued from that moment on, will have the note included.

Are There Any Limitations?

Since as we mentioned, the birth certificate is a historical record, there are some limitations. They’re pretty reasonable, though, and shouldn’t be any problem. For example, if a child is under 16 years old, both the forename and the surname can be changed only once. If, however, the forename has been changed in infancy, no further changes can be recorded until the child is at least 16 years old.

If you’re 16 years old, you can have a single change of the forename. However, up to three changes of the surname are allowed, provided that at least five years pass between successive changes. As we mentioned, the limitations aren’t at all unreasonable.

How Do You Change a Name on the Birth Certificate?

With that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. First things first, you should contact the Office of Vital Records. As a division of the Department of Health, they’re the office that is responsible for birth certificates. Most situations, when you want to correct spelling, won’t require a court order. That might be a bit different if you’re an adult, though. A smart thing to do is to check the laws in the specific area where you live, so you’re well aware of the entire process before you even begin. For example, changing your name in the UK is different from recording a change in Scotland.

Copyright: Pixabay | CC0 Public Domain

As we mentioned, things are different when you’re an adult. Namely, you should file a petition for a name change with the court. If, and when that is approved, you can go to the Vital Records office and request a new birth certificate. You’ll need to pay fees for this, so make sure you ask how much that is – you don’t want the fees catching you off guard. 

This is a guest post.

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