Perhaps the hospital where your child was born spelled the name wrong on her newborn certificate, or perhaps the parent's name is written incorrectly. Either way, it's essential that you correct the mistake. A birth certificate is one of the most important identity documents a person will have, and spelling errors can block the person's attempts to obtain a passport, driver's license or marriage certificate.
Often, spelling issues on a birth certificate can be corrected without a court order. The parents will simply complete a correction application and offer supporting documents as validation of the correct spelling.
Contact Your State Department of Health
To correct a spelling on a birth certificate, first contact the state's Vital Records office, a division of the state Department of Health. You can find contact information through the Center for Disease Control's Vital Records website. In most cases, you won't need a court order to correct the spelling. Each state has different rules, however, so do clarify the process before you begin.
Correcting the Child's Name
Gather at least one piece of evidence to show the correct spelling of the child's name, per state requirements. For infants born within the past year, it may be enough to provide a notarized letter from a parent citing the correct spelling. Otherwise, you'll need identity documents such as a church or baptismal record, hospital record, physician's record of birth, immunization records, grade-school record, insurance policy or other official record that corroborates the proper spelling.
Correcting Parent Information
Where a parent's name is misspelled, you generally will need at least two forms of identification showing the correct name. This might include the parent's birth certificate, passport, marriage license, record of military service, census records, driver's license, state ID card or Social Security Administration record. The child's parents should also submit a copy of a valid photo I.D. with the application.
File an Application
Fill out your state's birth certificate correction application and sign it. Deliver it to the Department of Vital Records with your supporting documents and the application fee, typically in the region of $40. The Department of Vital Records will agree to correct the spelling only if it is satisfied that the evidence you submitted proves the person's name. Each case will be different, so speak to someone in the Vital Records Office about how you should validate the correct spelling.
Getting a Court Order
If your state requires a court order before it will correct a birth certificate, you'll need to follow these steps:
- File and submit a petition with the local family court.
- Attach documents to your petition showing what the correct spelling should be.
- On your court date, appear before the judge and explain why you wish to correct the name. When both parents file the petition, the judge may approve the court order without a hearing.
- Send the court order to the state Office for Vital Statistics to have the birth certificate changed.
When you mail in your court order, attach a completed correction application and any fees you are required to pay.