How to change a name on a birth certificate

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Within 42 days of birth, parents in the UK are obliged to register their new child. Typically, this is done at the hospital where the child was born, however, in cases such as home births, or where the child’s name has not yet been decided, the parents can visit a local register office at a later date.

Who signs the initial birth certificate?

When the parents are married either parent may provide the information for both parents and sign the document

When the parents are unmarried:

  • both parents should provide their information and sign the birth certificate
  • one parent may provide the information and the other parent can submit it
  • AND the father has not signed a statutory declaration of parentage, he may be asked to do so at a later date to prove parental responsibility

Can You Change the Name on a Birth Certificate?

The short and simple answer is yes. In truth, it is quite uncommon for a birth certificate to be amended, as it was correct at the time of birth and it is unlikely the circumstances have changed. However, there are several reasons you may choose to do so, as we will explore in the following sections.

If you are an adult and are seeking to change your name, you should instead apply for a Deed Poll, rather than trying to amend your birth certificate. All documents and records will be changed to the new name, overwriting your name on your birth certificate, with this process costing around £42.

Reasons to Change the Name on a Birth Certificate

Here are three scenarios where a birth certificate amendment could occur:

  1. The biological father’s identity was unknown or unproved at the time of birth, and so must later be added at a local register office. If the biological father is to be added to the birth certificate, an application should be made to the General Register Office to re-register the birth. When both parents agree, the child’s surname may be changed (if the child is 16+ they must also agree)
  2. The father named on the birth certificate is proven to not be the biological father. In this situation, a DNA test (whether court directed or not) is the only form of accepted proof and must be submitted to the General Register Office. The newly-issued birth certificate will still contain this man’s name, except with a mark to say his name was entered in error
  3. Spelling mistakes, whilst uncommon, do happen and count as a valid reason for making a change to a birth certificate. In this instance, you are required to prove that the name recorded on the birth certificate is not what the child was intended to be called. This can prove tricky, of course, as you will be asked to provide evidence to show that the name was recorded incorrectly, and that evidence must be dated within 3 months of the child’s birth. If accepted, the new birth certificate issued will contain both the correct and incorrect spellings, with a note stating the correct information and when this was changed

How to Change a Name on a Birth Certificate?

Rather than seeing an amendment to a birth certificate as a ‘change’, the government term is a ‘correction’ as any ‘changes’ are made to update information that was incorrect at the time of birth.

If you are seeking to change your name due to a family dispute, for example, the Deed Poll service will serve your needs. 

If any of the three scenarios have occurred and you wish to proceed with a birth certificate correction, the cost is £90, and your application must be sent to the General Register Office. Whether accepted or not, this fee is non-refundable. 

Changing the forenames of a child can only be done within 12 months of registration. Baptismal names can be added, with a £1 statutory fee for the vicar or minister’s note. The previous names will still be shown on the birth certificate, with a note of the correction or added names. In both cases, the update will cost £40.

Re-registration Due to Marriage

There is a further reason why a birth certificate may be amended, however, in this case, a re-registration will take place and a new birth certificate will be issued. This happens when the parents get married after the birth of the child and wish to update the record. There are several prerequisites for this:

  1. The married couple are the biological parents of the child
  2. Both parents are in agreement about the change
  3. The child is under 16, or if they are over 16 they must provide written consent
  4. The original birth certificate has either: the biological father’s details or no details from the father

If all of these conditions are met, the child’s surname may be changed to either the mother’s, father’s, or a combination of both. This process is free.

The Role of DNA Testing in Birth Certificate Corrections

As previously mentioned, a correction to the father’s name can only be done when the named father has proven via court directed DNA testing that he is not the biological (natural) father of the child.

In some cases, the named father may doubt his own paternity and seek a DNA test, whereas in other cases, the mother may be seeking to prove the paternity of the father in order to assign parental responsibility. In both of these cases, a ‘peace of mind DNA test’, which can be done at home, will not suffice. The test must be done by a court-approved DNA testing company, such as DNA Legal.

For the named father to have his name corrected on the birth certificate, he must either prove that he is not the biological father or confirm (with DNA evidence) the identity of the true biological father. Despite her maternity not being in question, it is a requirement of the GRO that the mother also undergoes a DNA test. Of course, the child must also be DNA tested during this process.

Concluding Thoughts

Changing a name on a birth certificate is inexpensive and fast, and may take place for a number of reasons. In cases where a DNA test is required, we recommend taking advantage of our affordable testing services to give you a quality experience and results that provide clarity. If you wish for any further assurances to ask any follow-up questions that may not have been answered in this article, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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