California Bill to Require Diacritical Marks on Vital Records

Last updated May 30th, 2023

The United States has an extremely diverse population. That means there is a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, cuisines, and of course, names.

According to World Population Review, California currently tops the list of the most culturally diverse states in the United States. The website gave California a score of 70.89, which beat Texas by .89 points.

Something that has been a bit of a nuisance to many Californians has been the prohibition of diacritical marks (tildes, accents, etc.) on their vital records.

Currently, a bill has been proposed that would change that rule.

If Assembly Bill 77 goes through, Californians may add diacritical marks to their name on their vital records.

For example, someone named José can change Jose to José on their marriage license, rectifying the spelling of their name. Considering the size of the Hispanic community and other groups of people in California, the state can expect a lot of modifications.

If you fall into this category of needing or wanting to add a diacritical mark to a vital record such as a California birth certificate, it’s essential to understand:

  • What the bill entails and its provisions
  • Which records the bill applies to
  • How to request a name change on your vital records

Keep reading to find out if you will be affected by this bill and how to request your name modification on your documents.

Key Provisions of AB-77

For 37 years diacritical marks have not been allowed on any type of vital record. This is due to Proposition 63 which was passed in 1986 when English was established as California’s official language.

That means the state of California has treated names as if the mark doesn’t exist.

However, if Assembly Bill 77 passes it will undo Proposition 63.

The legislation was created by California Assemblymember Blanca Pacheco who remarked:

“It will allow individuals to be able to write their name correctly and be respectful of everybody’s various identities in different cultures.”

The bill allows the following if it is passed:

  • Anyone with a diacritical mark to submit a written request to change their record
  • The request can be done on a minor’s behalf by a parent or guardian

According to the bill a fee will need to be paid, which is typical when changing your name on a birth certificate or other official U.S. government record.

How to Fix Your Name on Your California Vital Record

Around the United States, individuals have the option to file a petition for the correction of clerical or typographical errors in their vital records, including their first name, nickname, place of birth, day, month of birth, or sex.

This process is typically initiated through the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO), where the record containing the error is maintained. If the individual's residence is in a different location, the petition should be filed at the closest LCRO.

You can correct the typographical error that does not include the accurate diacritical mark in your name if AB-77 is passed.

If the bill is passed you will need to apply with the required documentation.

Supporting documents required for correcting birth certificates in most states include:

  • A certified true machine copy of the certificate or registry book page containing the entry or entries to be corrected or changed.
  • At least 2 public or private documents reflecting the accurate entry or entries on which the correction or change will be based.
  • Notice and Certificate of Posting.
  • Certified machine copy of the Official Receipt for the filing fee.
  • Certification from law enforcement agencies

Once you have gathered the documents needed in your state, you can submit your application.

What This Means for Other California Vital Records

Birth certificates are not the only vital record that would be affected by this bill. There are a number of vital records that you can request to be changed if your name includes a diacritical mark.

Assembly Bill 77 mentions that it will be required to use the accurate diacritical mark on the following state certificates or licenses:

  • Birth certificates (including live birth certificates)
  • Death certificates (including fetal deaths)
  • Marriage licenses and certificates
  • Confidential marriage licenses and certificates

You would also need to provide the necessary documentation to have your name corrected at your request.

Will a Name Change Be Necessary?

A name change will likely not be necessary to fix the spelling of your name on your birth certificate.

Common reasons people change their name in California include:

  • Marriage
  • Adoption
  • Divorce
  • Gender identity

If you wish to change your name or the name of your adopted child you will need to go through the correct process. This generally includes filing a petition with each necessary supporting document and attending a hearing.


[Bill Text - California Legislature)(

California - LegisCA