Changing a birth certificate

Change the first name of your child

Change the surname name of your child

Mistakes in the naming of your child at the time of registration

Changing the first name of the child

If you decide to change your child's first name(s) within 12 months of the date of the registration of the birth you are able to do so on the original birth registration.

If the child has been baptised in the Christian faith within the 12 month period after birth registration you can obtain a form from the Register Office to take to the minister of the church in which the child was baptised.

Once this form has been completed it needs to be returned to the Register Office and the amended names can be inserted into space 17 of the original birth register. This process can be done at any time after the birth as long as the baptism took place within 12 months of the registration. You can then purchase certified copies from this amended registration. The full copy certificate will contain both the original name and the new name given in baptism.

If the child has not been baptised the parents can complete a form at the Register Office. Once again this process can be done at any time after the birth as long as it can be proved that the change of name took place within 12 months of the birth registration. Once the form has been completed the amended name(s) will be inserted into space 17 of the original birth registration. Certified copies of the amended registration can then be purchased. The full copy certificate will contain both the original name and the new name in space 17.

The short version of these certificates will only record the child's amended forename(s).

Changing the surname of the child

If the parents have married each other since the birth was registered the birth should be re-registered to accurately record the current legal status of the child. A form is available from the Register Office that must be signed by both parents.

Either parent can then attend an appointment at the Register Office, with the completed form and a copy of the marriage certificate. The birth will then 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.

If the parents were not married to each other at the time of the birth and the father did not attend with the mother to register the baby it is possible to re-register the birth at any time in the future to include the father's details in the registration and change the surname of the child. A form is available from the Register Office that has to be completed by both parents.

The easiest way for the birth to be re-registered is for both parents to attend an appointment at the Register Office together. However, it is possible for either parent to make a statutory declaration, before a solicitor or other person able legally to witness an oath, acknowledging parentage of the child. It is also possible to seek a court order naming the father. In any of these cases the re-registration will be referred to the registrar general before the birth can be registered again and certified copies of the re-registered birth can be purchased from the registrar.

Re-registration to add natural father

Re-registration after parents' marriage

However, if the parents were not married to each other at the time of the birth and it was decided to give the child the father's surname, whether or not he attended with the mother, 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.

Mistake in the naming of the child at the time of registration

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 will depend on how soon after the birth was registered you realise a mistake has been made.

If you realise you made an error within a couple of weeks of registration you should complete an application for a correction form setting out what the error is and how it came to be made. Please see the corrections page for information on how we process applications.

Applying to correct details on a birth registration

Download the application form to correct details on a birth registration

Download the guidance for completing the application

This form should be used when applying for a correction to the General Register Office.

If there has been a longer time gap between registration and realising that an error exists, in addition to completing the form setting out how the error came to be made, you must provide documentary proof, dated from the earliest infancy of the child, that you are bringing up the child in a name different to that recorded in the registration. This evidence could be in the form of a clinic card, NHS medical card or bank book. The form along with the documentary evidence will then be submitted to the Registrar General's office for consideration.  Please visit the corrections page for more information.


Last updated: 9 September 2016
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