Most minor corrections to birth certificates in California can be made by submitting an Affidavit to Amend a Record (form VS 24) to the Department of Public Health; however, when an amendment is needed because the individual changed his name, a court order will be required along with form VS 23.
People may want to amend a birth certificate in California for many reasons, but some of the most common changes are to correct an error, to change a person's legal name or to change the parent's name. The process of changing a person's birth certificate varies based on why the amendment is required.
Birth Certificate Correction in California
If there was an error on the birth certificate or if you need to add information to a blank field, only a minor amendment will be needed, which means you do not need to go to court. Errors of this nature can be a misspelling of the child or parent's name or a statistic that was wrongly entered by the hospital staff.
To correct an error, submit to the California Department of Public Health an Affidavit to Amend a Record (form VS 24), a notarized sworn statement (if you want a certified copy of the amended birth certificate), hospital documentation if the hospital made the error, and a copy of the parent's birth certificate if you are changing the spelling of a parent's name. The fee to make such a change is $23, although this may be waived if the change is made within the first year of the child's life. Your documents will not be returned, so be sure to keep copies of all submitted paperwork.
While this process can be used to make most minor changes and fill in blanks on the birth certificate, it cannot be used to add a father's name.
Changing a Name
If you want to change your name on a birth certificate, you first need to legally change your name through the courts. First, you must petition the court for a name change, go to the court hearing and then get a Decree for Changing Name from the court. Because this can be a complicated process, you may want to hire an attorney.
Once you have a court order, you can submit a certified copy of it, a $23 fee, a completed Amendment of Birth Record to Reflect Court Order Change of Name (VS 23) and a copy of your current birth certificate, if you have it, to the California Department of Public Health. Your documents will not be returned, so make copies before submitting them.
It is worth noting that you can obtain the court-ordered name change from any state with the exception of Hawaii. Because Hawaii processes some name changes through the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, it is considered an administrative procedure and is not considered valid in the state of California. If you live in Hawaii and want to change a California birth certificate, you need to petition the court in Hawaii or any other U.S. state in order to obtain a court order to change your birth certificate.
Changing a Parent's Name
If a parent's name was misspelled, it can be corrected using the basic amendment process mentioned above; however, if a parent changes her name, a court order is still required to amend the child's birth certificate. No additional court date is required, but a certified copy of the parent's Decree for Changing Name must be submitted with a completed form VS 24 and a $23 fee. The parent's name on the birth certificate will not be changed, but will be modified to show an AKA (also known as) with the parent's new name. If the parent's name was changed through the naturalization process, a photocopy of a Petition for Name change from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as a Certificate of Naturalization from the Department of Homeland Security is also required.
- California Department of Public Health: Correcting or Amending Vital Records
- California Department of Public Health: Affidavit to Amend a Birth Record
- Legal Match: Correcting Name Errors on a Birth Certificate in California
- San Diego Law Library: Amending a California Birth Certificate
- City of Berkeley: How to Correct a Birth Record
- California Courts: File a Petition to Change Your Name