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How to Make Changes to Your Child's Iowa Birth Certificate

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

How to Make Changes to Your Child's Birth Certificate

This information is for someone who was born in Iowa

My name or my baby's name is spelled wrong on the Iowa birth certificate. Can I have this changed?

  • Yes, this is fairly simple to correct, if it is corrected in the first year of the child's life.
    • The State Registrar can make corrections of obvious errors, transposition of letters, or omissions within the first year of the child's life.
    • The parent or guardian can make a request to the State Registrar to make the correction and prepare a new birth certificate with the correction.
  • If it is after the first year of the child's life, then you will need to go through the amendment process with the State Registrar:
    • You will need to write a sworn statement that tells the State Registrar:
      • The information to identify the birth certificate (like name, date of birth, etc.),
      • The incorrect data as it is listed in the certificate,
      • The correct data as it should be on the certificate, and
      • One or more pieces of documentary evidence supporting the correction (like a copy of a passport, identification, court order granting a name change, marriage certificate, etc.)
    • You can only change a name this way one time.

I did not put my baby's father's name on the birth certificate when the baby was born. Can I add it now?

  • Yes, you can ask for the father's name to be included on the birth certificate.

  • To add the father's name:

    • You can send a request to the State Register's office asking for a new certificate to be prepared.

    • You must include one of these with the request:

I am no longer with my baby's father, can I take his name off the birth certificate?

  • It is difficult to remove a name from a birth certificate.

  • The State Registrar decides whether or not a birth certificate can be changed.

    • If the father listed on the birth certificate is the biological father of the child:

      • No, you will not be able to remove his name from the birth certificate.

      • The exception is if you have a court order that tells the State Registrar to remove the name from the birth certificate.

    • If the father listed on the birth certificate is not the biological father of the child, then these are some steps a mother can take to ask the State Registrar to remove the name.

      • You can send a letter explaining the situation to the State Registrar along with:

      • A copy of the court order showing the person named on the birth certificate is not the father, and

      • A sworn acknowledgment signed by the mother and person named as the father that he is not the father, and

      • A request to prepare a new birth certificate.

      • The State Registrar may require additional evidence before they can make this decision.

    • The State Registrar should remove the husband's name when it receives a copy of a court order that says the mother's husband at time of conception, or birth, is not the biological father of the child.

      • A letter explaining the situation should be sent with the court order.

      • After the husband's name is removed, the biological father's name may be added.

      • A sworn acknowledgment or affidavit to establish paternity may be used to add the biological father's name to the birth certificate. DHS has more information on this: How to Establish Paternity

I was using a different name when my baby was born than I have now. Can I change my name on my baby's birth certificate?

  • Yes, send these to the State Registrar:

    • A copy of the court order that allowed you to change your name, or marriage certificate that shows the name change, and

    • A request asking for a new birth certificate to be prepared.

My baby's birth certificate only has one of my last names listed. Can I add the second last name?

  • Yes, if it is within the first year of the child's life. Contact the State Registrar to correct this omission.

  • After the first year of the child's life, you will need to go through the amendment process with the State Registrar:

    • You will need to write a sworn statement, called an affidavit, that tells the State Registrar:

    • The information to identify the birth certificate (like name, date of birth, etc.),

    • The incorrect data as it is listed in the certificate,

    • The correct data as it should be on the certificate, and

    • One or more pieces of documentary evidence supporting the correction (like a copy of a passport, identification, court order granting a name change, marriage certificate, etc.)

  • You can only change a name this way one time.

I decided to name my baby something different than what I put on the birth certificate. Can I change the baby's name?

  • Yes, you can change your child's name. The process to change the name depends on what name you want to change and when you decide you want to change it.

  • If you want to change a "given name" (first name) before the child is 1 years old:

  • The child's new first name may be added or changed upon the written request of:

    • Both of the parents, or

    • The mother, if the child was born out of wedlock or if the father is deceased or incapacitated, or

    • The father if the mother is deceased or incapacitated, or

    • The guardian, if both parents are deceased or incapacitated.

  • You can add (not change) a first name, until the child is 7 years old.

  • The child's new first name may be added or changed upon the written request of:

    • Both of the parents, or

    • The mother, if the child was born out of wedlock or if the father is deceased or incapacitated, or

    • The father if the mother is deceased or incapacitated, or

    • The guardian, if both parents are deceased or incapacitated.

  • If the child is more than 7 years old, the child's new first name may not be changed until the parents give the State Registrar written evidence of why the first name is being changed.

    • The written evidence will usually need to be a District Court order changing the child's name.

    • To change the birth certificate after a legal name change, send these to the State Registrar:

      • A certified copy of the court order, and

      • Data to identify the birth certificate, and

      • A request that the birth certificate be amended to show the new name.

  • You can only change a name this way one time.

How do I reach the State Registrar?

  • For more information, you can call call (515) 281-4944

  • You can mail in the request for any corrections and/or amendments to:

Iowa Department of Public Health
Bureau of Health Statistics
Lucas State Office Building, 1st Floor
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075

(515) 281-4944

  • The requests should be notarized.

  • The Bureau of Vital Statistics generally requires a clear copy of a government-issued identification card when requesting certified copies of records.

  • Even if you send in the information necessary to change the birth certificate, the State Registrar may ask you to send more evidence to them before they can make a decision on your case.

  • Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 
    • To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:call 800-532-1275. 
    • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161 or 
    • apply online at iowalegalaid.org
 
If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website iowabar.org.   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
 
*As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice. 
Last Review and Update: Feb 27, 2019
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