Wrong entries in your birth certificate can give rise to problems. These can be errors in the spelling of your first name, birthday or birthplace. How can you correct these?
Some people have tried to correct their birth certificate by hand, believing that it’s the right thing to do. However, that is certainly not the way. That would be tampering with an official document which is punishable by law. That is so, even if done with good intention.
Under Philippine law, your legal remedy depends on the kind of error involved. If it is a mere typographical or clerical error of any of the following entries, you can file an affidavit with the Local Civil Registrar (LCR). In your affidavit, you should state if you are asking for correction of:
Correction of the entry for sex/gender does not refer to sex-change surgery. Only clerical or typographical errors can be corrected. Therefore, the error must be due simply to mistake in writing or typing. The applicant must support his request for correction with a certification that he did not undergo sex change or sex transplant. The certification must be issued by a government-accredited doctor.
As of today, there is no law in our country allowing change of the entry for sex/gender arising from sex-change surgery.
A case for correction of entry based on sex change reached our Supreme Court. The petitioner wanted to have his name and sex changed in his birth certificate after he underwent sex change surgery. He wanted to marry his foreign boyfriend. He can do that only after the change is made in his birth certificate.
The Supreme Court did not allow such change to be done. The only time the entry for sex can be made is when there is a clerical error. The Supreme Court pointed out that the legal procedure is in fact called “correction of entry”. This presupposes that there was a mistake in the original entry.
When a birth certificate is issued, the entry for sex is based on the observation of the parents, midwife or doctor who provided the information. So if they see that the child is male, that will be written on the birth certificate. Since it is based on what they see, there would not be a mistake.
Sex or gender: Change is not allowed
Our present law does not contemplate a sex-change surgery as a basis for changing the “sex” entry in the birth certificate. This is because when the birth certificate was issued, there was no mistake in the entry. Until we have a law allowing the amendment of the birth certificate arising from sex-change surgery, it cannot be done.
In other words, when it comes to entries for sex, the law will allow corrections only, but not change.
When are errors considered clerical or typographical?
When the clerk makes a mistake in writing, copying, typing or transcribing, that is considered clerical or typographical. The error must be harmless and innocuous. This kind of mistake is visible to the eyes or obvious to the understanding. Besides, the error can be corrected or changed by reference to other existing record or records. The LCR will correct these errors based on the applicant’s affidavit and supporting documents.
Errors that involve one’s surname, birth year, legitimacy status, or nationality are considered substantial. The LCR cannot decide on these. Only a judge can decide because these are changes will have far-reaching implications. Therefore, evidence must be presented in court, and the public must be given a chance to oppose.
Birth year is substantial, because it will affect the date that a person reaches the age of majority. Majority age is important in doing certain acts, such as entering into contracts, voting or getting married.
Corrections in the surname are substantial because this can affect one’s relationships. These also affect certain rights such as the right to receive support and to inherit. Even when the error in the spelling of a surname is merely typographical; this matter has to come before the judge.
What are the requirements for administrative correction?
As mentioned, you have to submit an affidavit to the LCR explaining the error and the corrections desired. You must also cause a notice of your application to be published. This will be published in a newspaper of general circulation. It must be published at least once a week for two consecutive weeks.
You also have to present a certified copy of the registry book containing the entry sought to be corrected. Moreover, you need at least two public or private documents showing the correct entries. Public documents include your driver’s license, NBI clearance or any other document issued by a government agency. Private documents include your school records or baptismal records.
If the wrong entries refer to your birth month, birth date (but not the year), or sex / gender, you must support your application with copies of the earliest school records, medical records, baptismal or other documents issued by religious authorities.
The rules are different for substantial corrections, which I will deal with in another post.
(References: RA 9048, RA 10172)
* By the way, do you already have a copy of my free ebook, YOUR FAMILY FILES? This free ebook shows you how you can keep your most important personal and legal documents safe yet easy to find. It’s a good step to give you peace of mind. Click here to get it now.