What Happens if the Name I Use is Different from the Name on My Birth Certificate?

What Happens if the Name I Use is Different from the Name on My Birth Certificate?

Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article we answer the question, “what happens if the name I use is different from the name on my birth certificate?”  

Using a Name other Than the one on Your Birth Certificate

This article is a response to the following reader question:

Question: I recently obtained a copy of my birth certificate and my father's name isn't on it. My parents weren't married at the time of my birth. Although I used my father's last name my entire life, the name listed on my birth certificate is my mom's maiden name. My father passed away when I was 11, and I'm now trying to get a passport and my name is different from what is listed on the birth certificate and what I've gone by. I need help getting my birth certificate corrected. Please advise.

Thanks for your question, Your best course of action for the long-term is probably to have your name legally changed and then update your birth certificate.  In order to legally change your name, you must file a Request for Name Change along with a few accompanying documents with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which you reside.  This process will require you to publish notice in a local newspaper and attend a court hearing. For more on this, check out our article: How to Legally Change Your Name in Illinois.

Once the judge signs an order granting your name change, you can then submit the name change order along with an Affidavit and Certificate of Correction Request to the Illinois Department of Public Health in order to correct your birth certificate.  For more on this, check out our article: How to Correct an Illinois Birth Certificate.

At the end of this process, your birth certificate will match the name that you have been using.  While this is certainly the best long-term solution, the downside is that it takes some time.  The name change hearing will typically be scheduled no sooner than 8 weeks from the date that you file your name change request with the court clerk.

If you are in a hurry to receive your passport, you may be able to do so more quickly by submitting to the U.S. Department of State Passport Services an Affidavit Regarding a Change of Name along with at least 3 early public records showing that the name you have been using from a young age is different from the name on your birth certificate.  These records may include:

  • Your baptismal certificate;
  • Early school records;
  • Hospital records; or
  • Census records.

Your application is more likely to be approved if a blood relative signs off on it as well.  

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