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Finding Yourself: Unique Birth Certificate Dilemmas

We don’t think much about our birth certificates (BCs), until there’s a problem. For security reasons, NC law says certified copies of BCs are only available from NC Vital Records for yourself and your family, but there are some exceptions. The Clerk of Court routinely acts as a judge in these matters. The vast majority of the time, the state where someone was born is the only state that has the right to issue or change the BC. This article only refers to North Carolina law.

Q: What If You Don’t Know Who Your Parents Are?

A: If a person of unknown parentage was abandoned and doesn’t know where or when he or she was born, the person may file a petition with court asking for an order that will settle the matter and require a BC to be issued. If there is not enough evidence to make a ruling on where and when someone was born, the order will state the person was born in the county of abandonment.

Q: What If No One Ever Registered Your BC?

A: When a BC hasn’t been registered for over one year after the child’s birth, the court will enter what is called a “delayed birth certificate.” With proper documentation, you may get a BC which be marked “delayed” showing when it was actually registered. If the request is rejected, the person has the right to an administrative hearing on the matter.

Q: What If You Were Born in the Car?

A: If a birth takes place in another state because the mother gave birth “on a moving conveyance,” as long as the trip began in North Carolina, the place of the child’s birth will be reflected as the North Carolina county from which the mother left at the beginning of the trip.

Q: Can You Change Your BC If You Change Your Sex?

A: If someone requests a modification to a BC in order to change the sex on the BC after having sex reassignment surgery, the BC will be changed based on a notarized statement from the physician who performed the surgery or from a physician who has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone surgery.

Q: Can You Change Your BC For Other Reasons?

A: The surname (i.e., the last name) on the BC will be changed when the parents marry each other after the birth of the child and both agree to the change, or by court order. The court will change a BC when there is incorrect information on it, or when a parent’s name must be added. When someone legally changes his or her name, that change will also be made. Changes are also made for reasons included elsewhere in this article. The original BC is sealed by the court.

Q: What If You Were Adopted/Born Outside the US?

A: If someone is adopted and lives in NC but was born outside the US, the clerk will prepare a Certificate of Identification for the individual as long as the adoption decree and certified BC are provided. The certificate will contain the same information as a BC typically created when there is an adoption. People adopted outside the US and then “re-adopted” in the US, the certificate will reflect the country of birth is used instead of the state of birth.

Q: What If You Are the Parent of a Stillborn Child?

A: You are entitled to a certified copy of the birth registration called a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. If you named the baby, the certificate will reflect that name.



Laws change. This article is current as of 2015. ©

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