child's birth cert has wrong maiden name for me - passport problem?
January 26, 2014 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Recently received child's birth certificate with wrong maiden name for me.... it just has my married name in the maiden name spot. Obviously this was a mistake. I am inclined not to fool with the time and expense of correcting it but I need a passport this year for my child.

On the passport application, it asks for the parents' names at birth (i.e. my maiden name). And my child's birth certificate will be my child's form of identification for the passport agency. So the passport agency will get conflicting pieces of information, though maybe this won't be a dealbreaker for my child's passport app. I'm in the United States.

So here's my question: what do I do? Apply for the passport first and see what happens? Get it corrected with birth certificate vital agency only if passport agency bounces it back? Or is there any other reason that I need to get the birth certificate corrected for my child? Aside from genealogy purposes, I don't see why it would matter. In other words, when else do you need to prove your mother's maiden name? I certainly have never been asked this--at least, not that I can recall. Thanks, mefites.
posted by juliagulia to Law & Government (11 answers total)
I'd get the birth certificate corrected. You have no idea what your child is going to want to do in 30 years that requires an accurate birth certificate, and it's probably a lot easier to correct now than it would be later.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:28 AM on January 26, 2014 [24 favorites]

Definitely fix now. The expense should be minimal because right now it's a purely administrative act, and you can easily demonstrate it's an error. Office of Vital Statistics is where to start.
posted by mmf at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2014

I don't know about the passport stuff, but, I think it will be a lot easier for you to get the correction made to the birth certificate while your child is still a child, than for the child to have to have to jump through all the legal hoops to get it done when they're an adult. (Thinking of the hassle that the person in this question is faced with in correcting the typo on their birth certificate now because her adults all dropped the ball on fixing it when it was first noticed.)

Here's a result I got for googling 'how to fix a typo on a birth certificate', seems like a common enough problem that it shouldn't be too heinously expensive/difficult to get fixed.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had a similar mishap on my kid's bc and called the hospital who resent the info to the City to correct. Now I don't have to worry about it. I recommend just getting it over with.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:51 AM on January 26, 2014

You can bring this up with the acceptance agency that processes your initial application (the post office, library, etc.). They might be able to tell you whether a minor error like that will be a dealbreaker. Given that the passport is used as the sole official verification that both parents intend for the child to be able to travel across international borders, there might be an issue. And the acceptance person is only there to flag clear errors and make sure all the documents are present; State holds the final authority and the application fee is technically for the process of applying, not the physical passport, so it's non-refundable.

Having a correct birth certificate is becoming more important over time, if you have the time before you need the passport I would start the process of correcting it. MeMail me if you want tips about why it's more cost-effective to apply for a first passport no earlier than 18 months, and how to take a passport photo with a squirmy little one.
posted by wnissen at 8:52 AM on January 26, 2014

nthing fix now before getting the passport. A birth certificate is a foundational identity document, and errors there have the potential to create problems in everything that proceeds from it. There are definitely some bureaucratic situations where an individual needs to provide proof of both parents' identities: they're rare, but you can't predict what your child's future will hold, or how procedures may change.
posted by holgate at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2014

i cannot predict the effect this will have on your child's passport application, but...

nthing fixing the birth cert now. this could lead to confusion and difficulty down the road. it's a document issued by the government - your government. you paid for the document, and you pay for the government too, and you're entitled to receive a birth cert which is perfect in all respects, so go back to the office, put your elbows on the counter and direct the drone on the other side in a calm but imperious voice to fix it now.
posted by bruce at 9:42 AM on January 26, 2014

Yeah, fix it now. The hospital misspelled our daughter's middle name [imagine it was supposed to be "Nealon" but they spelled it "Neilon"] on her birth certificate, and we just always meant to get it corrected but put it off too long. Once school records and other stuff [like the passport she got when she was 18 months or whatever] started showing "Neilon", it quickly became apparent that changing it would be a bunch of hassle we'd just as soon avoid, so "Neilon" it remains 21 years later.

For an actually substantive error like yours, I'd suggest getting it fixed post haste.
posted by chazlarson at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a home birth with my second child, and when we got her birth certificate from the city, it had my birthdate wrong.

A quick call to city hall and a new one was processed and ready for me in three days. There was a lot less time spent in getting it corrected than there was in getting the incorrect one. And exactly $0 was involved.
posted by zizzle at 10:05 AM on January 26, 2014

You can bring this up with the acceptance agency that processes your initial application (the post office, library, etc.).

Hi. Clearly I am not Your US Passport Application Acceptance Agent, but I am one for some people.

Addressing the matter while you are in front of one of us, application in hand, would be too late. You application would likely be processed just fine; I wouldn't turn you away for a mistake of that order on the birth certificate. But just as likely you might have to back-and-forth with the Department of State regarding the matter before they issue you the new Passport.

Since we're discussing the matter so early, however, I would recommend you have the birth certificate amended first and foremost. Bear in mind, that is likely what the birth records authority will do to it: there may be a second page added to the birth certificate that notes the change, and the entire document would be two pages in length. So when you go to apply for your child's passport, you'd want to make sure you have the whole thing, both pages.
posted by carsonb at 11:42 AM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just went through a complicated immigration process that neither of my parents could have foreseen, and problems with the information on my birth certificate would have only added to the incredible amount of paperwork and stress.

Get it fixed now, prevent future frustration for your child!
posted by barnone at 12:47 PM on January 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

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