What Can I Do If There Is No Name on My Birth Certificate?

Last updated October 8th, 2021

Although not many people know it, birth certificates are sometimes issued even though they do not feature the name of the holder or that of a parent. This is because in the United States, while it is mandatory to register a birth, the certificate can be formalized within 1 year from the date the baby is born.

This gives parents and legal guardians enough time to get their papers in order and/or make up their minds about the child’s name, but it also means that sometimes, parents forget about it and the result is no name or even no birth certificate at all.

In these cases, action must be taken. Having an updated birth certificate is essential for all American citizens, including minors.

Reasons Why There Is No Name on a Birth Certificate

As explained, sometimes life just gets in the way and parents do not have the chance to update the birth certificate information on time. In some instances, it is actually the parents’ choice not to take care of the certificate due to religious or community beliefs as it is the case with Amish births, which usually go unrecorded.

A variety of circumstances may also be behind the omission of a parent’s name on the birth certificate. In some states, birth certificates can only feature parents of different genders. A child born of a same-sex marriage, therefore, may only have one parent on their vital records.

In case of adoption, what information is on a birth certificate depends on state laws.

Reasons Why You Need to Update Your Birth Certificate if There Is No name

The uses of a birth certificate are many. Mainly, your birth certificate proves your identity and nationality. Depending on the information included, it can also prove the relationship with your family members.

This means that you may need a complete birth certificate to (among other things):

  • Get American IDs issued or replaced (i.e. US passport, driver’s license, social security card)
  • Sign up for school and the military
  • Claim an inheritance or insurance benefits
  • Open a bank account and sign a contract of employment
  • Access social security benefits

If there is no name on your birth certificate, you cannot use it as proof of identity and citizenship and therefore, you will not be able to use it for any of the above purposes. In that case, your birth certificate is not considered valid.

How to Update the Name on Your Birth Certificate

If you have no documents proving your identity and legal name, you may have to apply to change your name and have it recognized in court. A legal name change is the only way to ensure that you are issued a new and correct birth certificate.

However, if you have the necessary supporting documents, you can simply apply for a birth certificate correction. The specific documentation you will have to provide varies by state but may include:

You may also need to pay an application fee.

Where to apply to get your name included on your birth certificate

It is the vital records office of your place of birth that issues your birth certificate. Vital records are a part of the State Department of Health so if you have moved to another state, you may not be able to apply in-person in your usual state of residence.

Obtaining your current birth certificate is easy and can be done online. Some states, like Texas, even offer a rush service that allows you to get your certified copy overnight.

However, to legally change your name on your birth certificate you may need to obtain a court order and therefore, have to contact the District Court in your county of residence.

What Happens if Parent’s Don’t Give Their Baby a Name?

In general, hospital staff will push parents to name their baby within 24 to 48 hours after birth. In the case of a C-section, they may have up to 72 hours to give a name to the newborn before being discharged home.

If parents leave the hospital without naming the child, the State Department of Health will contact them for not completing all the required paperwork. However, some parents are still able to get away with not naming their child in the U.S.

While not having a name is technically legal, it can cause significant issues for the child, as they will not be able to identify themselves in front of government authorities and institutions. This can create problems when trying to undertake various official processes such as getting a social security card and obtaining a driver’s license or passport.

Not having a name will also mean that they won’t be able to legally work, enroll in school, open a bank account, or access important social security benefits and services. Furthermore, without legal proof of identity children are at a much higher risk of violence or exploitation, as they are unable to prove their age.

This can lead to them being forced into child labor, early marriage, trafficking, illegal adoption or other forms of abuse. Because of these risks, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child specifically states that all people have an undeniable right to having a name from birth.