A birth certificate records an infant's birth. In Virginia, as in other states, it is usually filed with the vital records office within days of that event. While some of the information is set in stone, like the time and place of the birth, other information may change over time. When that happens, the child, or a parent or guardian on her behalf, can ask the Virginia Vital Records Office to have a new birth certificate established or the old one amended.
Birth Certificates in Virginia
Birth certificates serve a variety of purposes in the United States. They record the arrival of a new citizen, since all babies born in this country are automatically granted citizenship, regardless of whether their parents are citizens, foreign nationals or undocumented residents.
Birth certificates also record other information, like the parents' names. This is important for inheritance and child support purposes. The child's given name and sex are also listed.
Amending a Birth Certificate
When facts about a baby change, a Virginia birth certificate can change, too. Perhaps the most frequent changes made to a birth certificate are changing the child's name, adding a father's name and changing the gender marker (the sex).
A child's name can change because of a legal order changing it, whether as the result of an adoption or a name change order. The parent or guardian can ask the court to change a child's first, last or middle name while the child is a minor. When the child is an adult, she can obtain a court order legally changing her name herself.
If there was no father listed on the birth certificate, but paternity is later established, the certificate can be altered to include it. Finally, either a minor child's parents or the child herself when she grows up can seek a change of sex on the certificate.
Procedures in Virginia to Change Birth Certificate
Virginia law contains provisions to correct a new birth certificate. To apply for an updated Virginia birth certificate, a child's parents or guardians, or the child himself if he is no longer a minor, must submit an application to amend the birth certificate to the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, Attn: Special Services Department, P.O. Box 1000, Richmond, VA 23218-1000. All required substantiating documents must be sent to that address with the application.
Read More: How to Add a Parent's Name to a Virginia Birth Certificate
Documents Required to Change a Name
If a person born in Virginia wishes to change the name listed on her birth certificate, she must first ask the court to approve a name change. This requires that she file a petition seeking a name change and appear at a hearing. If a court approves the name change, it issues a certified copy of the Court Order for Change of Name.
Documents to Change Paternity
If a baby is born out of wedlock and no father is listed on the birth certificate, the parents can apply to have the father's name added. The application should include a sworn acknowledgment of paternity executed subsequent to the birth and signed by both parents. If the parents also request a name change to add the father's surname, the name is also changed.
Documents Required to Change Gender Marker
The document required to change gender markers on a Virginia birth certificate is a certified copy of the Court Order for Change of Gender. To obtain this court order (there is a specific form in the state for a gender change order) the individual must petition the local circuit court. Under Virginia law, a Court Order for Change of Gender may be granted "when the sex of an individual has been changed by medical procedure."
The law requires that a doctor certify that a medical procedure has changed the gender. Virginia law does not specify which medical procedure is required, and a court must review each petition on its own merits.
- Code of Virginia: § 32.1-264. New Birth Certificate Established on Proof of Adoption, Legitimation or Determination of Paternity
- Virginia Vital Records: FAQs
- Code of Virginia: § 32.1-269: Amended Birth Certificate Established on Proof of Adoption, Legitimation or Determination of Paternity
- Trans Law DC: Virginia Guide
- Fairfax County Circuit Court: Correction of Virginia Birth Certificate
- The $12 processing fee is as of February 2010. Check the Virginia Office of Vital Records for updates.
Teo Spengler earned a JD from U.C. Berkeley Law School. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an MA and an MFA in English/writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.