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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Are you having trouble obtaining or updating your birth certificate? Here’s what you need to know.

There are many reasons why someone may need to request a new birth certificate. You may have lost yours or maybe you need a new certificate to reflect a name change. Perhaps you discovered a misspelling or other error on your birth certificate. Though dealing with state agencies may seem tedious or intimidating, the good news is that Maryland has a procedure for addressing each of these scenarios.

If you’ve lost your birth certificate and want a new copy, you can contact the Vital Statistics Administration at 410-764-3038 or by visiting https://health.maryland.gov/vsa/Pages/Home.aspx On this site, you can book an in-person appointment or place an online order. You also can obtain the proper form to mail a request.

To obtain a new birth certificate, you must submit certain required documents. A valid, government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license, passport or state photo ID showing your current address will be sufficient. If you do not have a valid photo ID, you must submit two of the following documents: a current utility bill, car registration, rental agreement, pay stub, tax return, bank statement or letter from a government agency requesting your vital records.

If you wish to correct or update your birth certificate, there are different processes depending on your reason for doing so. Those seeking to correct mistakes such as misspellings or omissions can submit a form by mail. This form is an affidavit where you will attest to the truth of the information you provide, and you must have the document notarized. Persons seven years of age or older who seek to correct their birth certificate must provide two documents from the long list found on the form. Documents can include a voter registration card, doctor’s office records, marriage certificates and more.

Those seeking to change the sex designation on their birth certificate have their own process to go through. A form can be mailed to the Vital Statistics Administration along with the required documents. The person making this request also must present proof that one of the following is true: a health care practitioner certifies that the applicant has undergone gender-affirming treatment, a health care practitioner certifies that the applicant is intersex, or a court has issued an order for a gender change. You will need to provide a certified copy of the court order.

A $10 fee – payable by check or money order to the State of Maryland – must be paid for every copy of a birth certificate you request.

Finally, if your birth certificate contains a more unusual error not mentioned here, such as an incorrect parent’s name, you may need to obtain a court order by filing a lawsuit known as a Complaint for Writ of Mandamus. This is a legal action that must be filed in the Circuit Court for the city or county where you live. In the filing, you must detail your reasons for wanting to change your birth certificate and ask the court for an order granting your request.

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service can help you obtain a court order granting a name change, gender change or other birth certificate correction. Visit us at mvlslaw.org or call 443-547-6537 between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Chris Sweeney is the Workforce Development Manager at Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. He can be reached at [email protected].

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