birth certificate

What’s in a name?

At Paradigm Family Law we receive a number of enquiries from clients looking to correct or change a Birth Certificate. In this post, we summarise the general procedure and requirements.

What corrections can be made?

If the information is wrong, for example one parent’s occupation was incorrectly stated on the certificate, an application can be made to correct the register. Although, if it is to record a change in circumstances such as marriage and the consequent change of your surname then that is not catered for by the process. However, if the natural parents were unmarried at the date of birth, they can apply to re-register the birth if they subsequently get married.

Who do you apply to?

There are two places that applications for correction can be made to:

  1. The register office where the child’s birth was registered – used where there are minor mistakes such as a parent’s occupation, birthplace or address; or
  2. The General Register Office (GRO) – for mistakes involving information such as names

If in doubt, then the applicant should contact the relevant register office or the General Register Office.

What if the wrong father’s details are registered?

In those circumstances, an applicant must satisfy the registrar that the wrong father has been recorded on the certificate. This can only be done with proof in the form of a DNA test or court order stating that the man stated on the certificate is not the natural father. In some circumstances, it may be permissible to obtain a declaration of parentage. For this type of change it involves an application to the General Register Office.

What if I have changed gender?

For individuals who have changed gender, once the gender change is approved they will receive a new birth certificate. That certificate will show the new gender on it.

What will the new Certificate show?

If the application for a change to the Birth Certificate is authorised, a correction is made to the register in the child’s Area office. Whilst the original information will never be removed, a note is added to the margin of the register showing the change(s). The note will outline the date of the correction and what was changed on the register. After then, any full birth certificates provided by the registrar will show the note. Short birth certificates will only show the child’s details and therefore won’t have the margin note on them – just the new corrected details.

Who can apply?

Only the mother or the father can apply for a correction. The father must be the father whose details are recorded on the certificate. Where both parents are named, both must jointly apply to change a child’s name. Where the parents are not available, the child themselves can apply.

The wrong father

If the father named on the certificate is not correct, it may not be necessary for them to be involved in the application to correct the certificate. However it will need an application to the General Register Office by  two of the following people:

  • the mother
  • the natural father
  • the man named on the birth certificate as the father

and at least one of them must sign the application form.

The Forms

The application forms and documents needed can be found here. It is free to correct the records, but if a new certificate is required there will be a fee payable. Full details are available on the website.

Home Office Guidance

The Home Office has published new guidance on how applications are handled to change names on official documents.

The guidance notes that the vast majority of people living in the UK change their names on official documents issued by the Home Office for perfectly legitimate reasons, such as when they get married. The policy is focussed on achieving two aims: first, helping the genuine applicant to obtain documents in a change of name with the minimum but necessary level of supporting information; and second, deterring, disrupting and detecting those who change their names in order to commit crime or avoid detection.

The guidance applies to applications to changes of names and identities to the following documents:

  • British passports, including emergency travel documents and emergency passports
  • Home Office travel documents
  • biometric residence permits
  • visas
  • right of abode and certificates of entitlement
  • residence documents issued to EEA nationals and their family members, including derivative categories.

Where a person is seeking to change an identity on one of the Home Office documents listed above the person is required to provide supporting evidence that they intend using that identity for all purposes of their life. This may include a marriage certificate or a deed poll along with other supporting documentary evidence that the new name is being used for all purposes.

For the guidance, please click here.