What is an Altered Birth Certificate?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2019
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An altered birth certificate is a birth certificate which has been changed and reissued. One of the most common examples of an altered birth certificate is the birth certificate typically provided to adoptive parents, listing them as the legal parents of the child they have adopted. An altered birth certificate is a legal document which can be used just like a regular birth certificate, and it often contains no information to indicate the fact that it is an altered birth record.

For adoptive parents, an altered birth certificate is very important because it gives them the legal status of parents. Without an altered birth certificate, the parents could have trouble later on with things like transporting the child across international borders, or making decisions for the child in emergency medical situations. For adopted children brought in from other countries, an altered birth certificate gives the child legal citizenship.

Among adoptees, there is some controversy over altered birth certificates. Some adopted children later decide that they would like to track down their birth parents, which can be very difficult without the original birth certificate. Some adoptive parents decide to keep a copy of the original birth certificate, so that the child has access to it later, if he or she desires, but altered birth certificates have also been used to conceal the truth of an adoption, which can cause an awkward and painful scene.


A birth certificate may also be altered for other reasons. For example, a gay couple who has a child together may file for an altered birth certificate listing both members of the couple as parents. Transgendered individuals may also file for altered birth certificates which reflect their gender and name changes, so that they can use the altered birth certificate to file for new government identification and other documents. While these alterations have symbolic value, they also have legal importance; without an alteration listing both members of a couple as parents, for example, they would not have the rights which parents are entitled to, ranging from the ability to visit their child in the hospital to a court order for child support, should the couple separate.

In some regions, an altered birth certificate must be marked as “amended” or “altered,” even if the original is destroyed or inaccessible. As long as the birth certificate bears an official seal and all of the markings used to identify legal birth certificates, it is fully legal document which should withstand inspection by officials and hold up in court.

Keeping a copy of your birth certificate, along with other vital records, is a very good idea. Official copies of birth certificates, altered or original, are generally available from the office of vital records in the county, province, or district where someone is born; to order an official copy, people must usually pay a small fee and present identification. Such documents should be kept in a safe place, as they can be used to establish identity.


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Post 3

My birth certificate was altered a few months after I was born. My last name was changed to my fathers, before that it stated that my surname was my mothers maiden name. Any idea why that would be?

Post 1

I have a question about my birth certificate. I am going on a cruise leaving from a US port and returning to that same port. I see on my birth certificate that my mother crossed off her last name because it was spelled incorrectly and then wrote under it the correct spelling. It is my certified certificate. Is this still legal identification?

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