It's not uncommon for errors to occur on birth certificates. Sometimes, a name's misspelling occurs, or parts of a name are omitted, either intentionally or unintentionally. A person can change a birth certificate in Michigan if they have a legitimate reason to do so. They must follow the process required by the state and show proper documentation.
Who Can Change a Birth Certificate in Michigan?
The Michigan Vital Records Office has strict requirements to determine who can change a birth certificate. With the exception of a legal name change, only certain individuals can request a change to a birth certificate:
- Parent or parents whose names are on the record.
- Parent whose name is not on the record who wishes to add their name to it.
- Legal guardian of the minor on the birth certificate, requiring a court order.
- Person on the birth certificate if they are 18 years old or older.
- Heir to the person on the birth certificate if that person and their parents are deceased.
- Facility administrator or other individual who filled out the original birth certificate.
- Legal, licensed representative of the above individuals. This person must use official letterhead to document how they represent the individual on the record and include their state bar license number and client identification.
When requesting a legal name change on a birth certificate, only certain individuals can make the request:
- Parent or parents of the minor named on the birth certificate if they are younger than 18 years old.
- Legal guardian of the minor on the birth certificate.
- Person on the birth certificate if they are 18 years old or older.
- Legal, licensed representative of the above individuals.
Changing First or Middle Name Due to Spelling Error
The process to change a child's first or middle name on a birth record depends on their age. Both parents must complete and sign the Application to Change a Michigan Birth Record form for children under 6 if the record names each of them. If the record names one parent, only that parent can complete and sign the application.
If the child is 6 or over, and the certificate names both parents, both must complete and sign the application. If the record names one parent, only that parent must complete and sign the document.
If the minor is 15 years old or older, they must also sign the application; if they are 18 or older, they will be the sole signer. In all instances for children over 6 years, applicants must include one document indicating the given name's proper spelling from the previous five years.
Signing Forms Where No Spelling Error
For a name change not caused by a spelling error, these individuals must sign:
- Parents of record must sign the name change application for children under 15.
- Minors over 15 must sign the application with their parents.
- Applicants 18 and over can sign the application on their own.
Requirements for Changing First or Middle Name
Except for the Application to Change a Michigan Birth Record, children under 1 year of age do not need additional documentation. For children 1 to 5 years old, applicants need two documents verifying that the child has been using the requested name. Suggested documents include baptism, medical, immunization records or health or life insurance policy forms.
If the child is 6 or older, in addition to a completed application, they'll need:
- Two documents verifying that the child has been using the requested name, with both documents showing the new name.
- One document's creation must have occurred within seven years of the person's birth, and the other should be more than 20 years old, or older than one-half of the registrant's age when they apply.
- Suggested documents can include baptism, medical or immunization records, health or life insurance policy forms, military or school records, birth records of the applicant's children or marriage licenses.
Changing a Minor's Surname
The requirements for changing a minor's last name are slightly different. Children under 1 year old need to submit a completed application to change their birth record, with a statement from the hospital where the child was born indicating that it made an error in reporting that child's name.
If the child is 1 year old or older, the applicant must submit a completed application to change the birth record, along with two documents – one dated before they turned 1 and one dated before they turned 7.
Suggested documents include baptism, medical or immunization records, health or life insurance policy forms, military or school records, birth records of the applicant's children or marriage licenses.
Name Change in Conjunction with Other Events
Applicants can change a surname in conjunction with completing certain other actions:
- With a marriage license, if the child's parents marry after their birth.
- With filing and acceptance of an Affidavit of Parentage.
- With a Court Order of Filiation submitted to the Vital Records Office.
- With an adoption order submitted to the Vital Records Office.
- With the parents' name change according to U.S. naturalization documentation.
- With surrogacy documentation.
- With any court orders specifying a surname change.
Removing a Father's Name From a Birth Record
A father's name can be removed from a child's birth certificate under Michigan law. However, its removal and replacement cannot occur unless the applicant shows documentation to take the existing name off.
Applicants must first complete an application to correct the birth record. They must also submit a circuit court order expressly stating that the man listed on the birth certificate is not the child's father. Applicants can also provide a divorce judgment if it specifically states the husband is not a minor's biological father and identifies the child.
Adding a Father's Name To a Birth Record
Adding a father's name to a birth record is also possible. Applicants must provide a change of birth record application with one of the following:
- Court order naming the male parent.
- Affidavit of parentage.
- Court determination of paternity.
- Court determination of heirs.
The order then goes to the Vital Record's Office, which adds the father to its Central Paternity Registry.
Changing the Mother's Name on a Birth Record
The mother's name can be changed on a birth record if it is incorrect, but applicants must provide specific documentation for the name change. Along with a completed application, the applicant must submit a worksheet reflecting the correct information from the attendant or the hospital.
If there was no error during the preparation of the certificate, the applicant must provide a court determination of the facts to warrant the name change.
Changing Sex or Race on a Michigan Birth Certificate
If the sex stated on a birth record is incorrect due to a hospital or attendant error, it can be changed. Individuals must provide a completed application, as well as a document showing the date of birth with the correct information or a document dated five years before the date of the application with that information.
To correct a sex designation on a birth certificate to reflect someone's identity, an applicant must provide:
- Completed application.
- Photo ID.
- Application fee.
- Signed Sex Designation Form from the Michigan Vital Record's Office or a court order determining the designation.
Note: If an applicant wants to change their name, a legal name change is required through the court.
Tier 1 Documents Needed to Change a Birth Record
Birth records are restricted documents in Michigan, unless they are over 100 years old, so individuals requesting a change to that record must show a current, government-issued ID. The applicant must include a copy of this identification when submitting their application and fees.
A Tier 1 document establishes the applicant's identity. It must contain a photograph of the applicant and their name, date of birth, address, expiration date of the ID and signature. It can be a:
- Passport (U.S. or foreign).
- Passport card (U.S. only).
- Driver's license or ID (U.S. state or territories).
- Military ID with photo and signature (U.S.).
Photo ID Requirements for Tiers 2 and 3
Tier 2 documentation must include;
- Tier 1 documents that have expired within the past five years and a document from Tier 3 issued in the past year.
- Employment photo ID with a pay stub or W-2 form from the past year.
- Student photo ID with a current report card or current proof of enrollment from the same institution.
- Department of Corrections ID with discharge or probation papers from the past year.
- Department of Corrections ID with verification of incarceration papers issued from the past year.
Tier 3 documentation must include three of the following, with one document issued in the past year:
- Tier 1 documents that have expired more than five years ago.
- Social Security card with signature.
- Marriage or divorce certificate.
- Child's birth certificate.
- W-2 form.
- Paycheck stub.
- Bank statement.
- Voter or motor vehicle registration.
- Health insurance card.
- Utility bill.
- Medical, hospital or dental bill.
- Community organization or religious documents.
- Baptism certificate.
- Military DD-214 discharge papers (or equivalent).
- School records.
- Benefit statement or letter from a government agency, such as Social Security Administration or IRS.
- Rental or land agreement.
- Military ID with a photo or signature.
- Additional documents used to establish identity that are equivalent to the above.
Filing Fees for a Birth Record Change
To correct or change any information on a Michigan birth record, applicants must pay $50 to receive a new copy of the record with the changes. Additional copies are $16 each if they are ordered simultaneously. Applicants must pay using a check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan and send it with the application to: Vital Records Changes P.O. Box 30721, Lansing, MI 48909.
The average processing time for changes to a birth record is about five to six weeks from the date that the application, name documentation, payment and photo identification are received by the Vital Records Office. Applicants can request a two- to three-week rush service for an extra fee. They can call the department's Changes Unit at 517-335-8660 if they have further questions.
- If you cannot provide any of the above listed documentation, call (517) 335-8660 and speak to a changes specialist at the Michigan Vital Records Changes Unit.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.