Can I change my Birth Certificate?

When your change your name using a Deed Poll document, you may want to change the name on a birth certificate to reflect your new name, however, this is generally not possible.  Within the United Kingdom, a birth certificate, like a marriage or divorce certificate is what is called an historic document.  You cannot get any historic documents changed over from an old name onto a new name.  This is because the information  contained within the birth certificate, when it was issued was correct, since the name used on the birth certificate was correct at the time it was issued, it is not possible to retrospectively alter this to reflect any change subsequently.

Other examples of historic documents are educational certificates and once these have been issued, it is generally not possible to change the details unless there is some error on them.

The Deed Poll document should be attached to the birth certificate. Together they provide evidence that you are using a name which is different to that which was your birth name and is on your birth certificate.  The Deed Poll does not change, amend, eliminate or replace your birth certificate but is an addendum to the birth certificate.  It must be provide with the birth certificate when required.

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When can you change your Birth Certificate?

There are a small number of circumstances when it is possible to change the name details on birth certificate. If the birth certificate change has been accepted, then a new birth certificate will be issued to with the amended or new details. If you have an amended or new birth certificate issued with the new name details, then you will not need a change of name Deed Poll document, since the birth certificate will act as evidence of the name.  You only need a Deed Poll document if the name on your birth certificate is different to the name you want to take on as your new name.


Parental Responsibility Requirement to change a Child’s Birth Certificate

In order to change the name details on a birth certificate you would need to have the required parental responsibility for the child to change the child’s name.

Changing a Child’s Forenames

You can change a child’s forename in the following circumstances:

  • new forenames (first name(s) were given in baptism or by regular use within 12 months of the birth being registered, this can be done on the original birth registration
  • if your child has been baptised, only the baptismal names can be added to the register - the minister of the church, where your child was baptised, with custody of the baptismal register, needs to confirm this with the 'Certificate of name given in Baptism'

Also note:

  • you must have parental responsibility for the child, this is usually the mother, father or guardian of the child
  • forename changes can only be made once – any further forename changes cannot be recorded
  • you must comply with any court orders in force about the naming of your child


Changing a child’s surname

You can only change a child’s surname in their original birth record to correct a spelling mistake.
However, a child can be re-registered in the following circumstances:

  • to record the natural father's details in the birth record
  • following the marriage of the natural parents, if they were not married at the time of the birth

In these circumstances, you are able to change the child’s surname to the mother’s or the father’s – or a combination of the two – as long as both parents agree to the change. If the child is 16 years of age or over, his or her written consent must be obtained before the surname can be changed.

To change the surname, the easiest way would be for both the parents to visit the Register Office together. It is also possible for one parent to make a statutory declaration, before a solicitor or other person who is able to legally witness an oath, acknowledging parentage of the child.

It is also possible for either parent to seek a Court Order naming the father. In any of these cases the birth will be registered again and certified copies of the re-registered birth can be purchased from the registrar.


If you were not married and gave the child the father's surname

In this case, it is not possible to change the surname in the registration back to that of the mother. The only alternative will be to consult a solicitor and make a statutory declaration or deed poll changing the surname of the child. This will not change the original birth registration.

The statutory declaration or deed poll document should be attached to the birth certificate and this will provide evidence that the child is being brought up in a surname different to that recorded in the birth registration.


If you have married since the birth was registered

The birth should be re-registered to accurately record the current legal status of the child. A form, available from the Register Office, must be signed by both parents. Either parent can then attend the Register Office, with the form and a copy of the marriage certificate.

The birth will be re-registered and the child's surname can be changed as part of this process. Certified copies of the re-registered birth can be purchased from the registrar.


Correcting a mistake

If you made a mistake in the original birth registration it will be necessary for the person who registered the birth to prove that an error exists.

A registration is an historic record that records the details as they were intended to be on the day that the registration was completed. What information you will need to provide depends on how soon after the registration you noticed the mistake.


If you spot the mistake within a couple of weeks:

You should write a letter setting out what the error is and how it happened. This letter should be sent to the Register Office who will pass it on to the Registrar General's Office who authorise all corrections to names.


If you spot the mistake after a longer time period:

In addition to writing the letter (as above), you will need to provide a document, dated from the earliest age of the child, which shows you are bringing up the child in a name different to that recorded in the registration.

This evidence could be a Clinic Card, NHS medical card or bank book. The letter and document will then be sent to the Registrar General's office for consideration.


What you need to do:

If your child was baptised in a Christian church, the vicar or minister of the church needs to complete the ‘Certificate of name given in Baptism’ form. They may charge you for this.

If not, you will need to complete a ‘Certificate of name not given in baptism’ form.

Send the relevant form to the original register office. If you no longer live in the same area, post the paperwork to the relevant register office.

You can download the form below, or:

  • contact your local register office
  • contact the General Register Office on telephone +44 (0) 300 123 1837