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Can You Legally Change Your Age? | What You Need To Know

You cannot legally change your age to your liking. You can only potentially have your age legally corrected if you have evidence that the date on your birth certificate is incorrect.

You can legally change your age by providing evidence of your correct birth date before a court or other body. The procedure for changing your age may vary depending on your county of residence. Only requests for error corrections are accepted.

In this article, you will find a detailed discussion on the possibilities of changing your birth year, the procedure to follow to change your age in official records, including the applicable law, where to apply, and what documentation you need. I’ll also discuss the circumstances you can change your age and those you cannot. 

Woman talking to a judge who has an open book on a desk

Is It Possible To Change Your Birth Year?

The law and public institutions presume that the birth date on your birth certificate is correct. However, you can change your birth day, month, or year in specific circumstances provided by law. Given that the change of your birth year could bring more legal implications than, for instance, just changing your day of birth, the process may be under more scrutiny.  

It is possible to change your birth year if your official birth year is incorrect and you have enough evidence to support your claim. Changing your birth year can be more complicated than changing other official information, as this amendment can change your legal rights and duties. 

Changing your birth year can bring changes in your legal rights and duties. For instance, the legal rights below are applicable after you reach a certain age:

On the other hand, your legal duties can also change with the passing of the years. For instance:

  • People can be fully criminally liable only after adulthood
  • People have to follow mandatory education after reaching a certain age. 

How Can I Correct My Birth Date?

If you think the birth date on your birth certificate is incorrect and you have evidence to support this claim, you can start the process of legally changing it. First, you must get acquainted with the applicable law, including the rules on the official body you can apply to and the documents you must provide. 

You can correct your birth date by filing a request before a court or other body. The procedure differs according to the applicable law of your county of birth or residence. In each case, your request should be supported by evidence like hospital records, certifications, witness affidavits, etc.

The Applicable Rules To Correct Your Birth Date

Law, in general, allows for the correction of legal and official documents, including birth certificates. However, the procedure to correct your date of birth is regulated locally. The rules to update your birth date vary according to the county you were born in or reside in.

Some states will require an application form to be filled and supported by evidence, such as hospital paperwork, affidavits of witnesses, etc. Other states will require that the above evidence is presented before a court. The latter can then release an order to make the necessary changes to your birth certificate. 

In either case, the rules will be more flexible if the correction of your date of birth is requested shortly after issuing the birth certificate. For example, within the first months of a baby’s life. On the other hand, if you try to correct a birth certificate later in life, you will probably have to go through a longer and more complicated process. 

Where To Apply To Correct My Birth Date?

You may have to file a petition to correct your birth date at the court in the county where the birth certificate was issued or the county you reside in. You can get a court order to correct your date of birth by filing for a ‘Correction of An Error’. 

Man talking to a judge who has a notebook and the scales of justice on his desk

You will not need a court order to change your birth date in other counties. You can approach a public body, like the Public Registry Office, and fill in a form. However, you will have to attach all the supportive evidence to your application form as if you were before a court. 

What Supporting Documentation Do I Need To Correct My Birth Date?

Regardless of where you have to apply for a correction of your birth date, in each case, you will need to support your claim with evidence. The more convincing your supporting documentation is, the easier it will be for the competent public body to order the change of your birth certificate. 

The supporting documentation you need to correct your birth date includes hospital records, baptismal certificates, immigration documents, and witness affidavits. 

Let’s explore these documents below: 

  • Hospital records: These include the hospital’s Forms of Birth which provide (among others) information on your actual birth date and time.
  • Baptismal certificates: Even though baptismal certificates are not considered evidence of identity or legal documents, they keep records of your date of birth. Hence, they can be used to support your claim to correct your birth date. 
  • Immigration documents: If you come from a different country, your date of birth in the actual legal documents can be mistakenly changed. In this case, you can apply for a correction by providing the immigration documents or foreign certificates of birth that support your claim. 
  • Witness affidavits: These are sworn written statements from people present when you were born and can support your request to correct your birth certificate. They are written and signed before public notaries, legal practitioners, or even courts.

How Long It Takes to Correct Your Birth Date 

The process of correcting errors in your birth certificate is said to vary from 1 to 2 months. However, the change of your birth date goes under more scrutiny than other changes or corrections, so you may expect it to take longer. 

The length of the process depends on the procedure you will have to follow: Usually, if you have to request a court order, it could take more time than submitting a request to another public office. 

In contrast, if you apply for the change of a newborn’s birth certificate, it will take less time than if you apply for the exact change after some years. 

Circumstances You Are Allowed To Change Your Age

A court may not always grant you the right to change your date of birth. Some of the cases that are considered legally acceptable for the court to order such a change are:

  • You are asking to correct an error in your birth date on your birth certificate. Remember that you must provide evidence to succeed.
  • You are legally entitled to gain a new identity. These cases are sporadic and individual. However, if a person is under a witness protection program, their date of birth may be subject to change, along with their name, surname, birthplace, and other personal data. 
  • You are asking to correct a document of international adoption. This happens when the child’s age in the international adoption documents does not match the child’s actual age. In this case, a medical record signed by a competent doctor or dentist determining the child’s age is necessary. 

Circumstances You Are Not Allowed To Change Your Age

Changing your birth date is legally acceptable only in certain circumstances. In most cases, you can be granted the right to make this change to correct a mistake that was previously made in your birth certificate. Other allowed cases are rare and are evaluated individually. 

If you want to alter your date of birth just because you do not like it or want to appear younger, your request will be denied. You can change the name on your birth certificate just because you don’t like it. However, your date of birth is considered a legal fact and cannot be changed based on your liking. 

Therefore, do not change your official records without a competent body’s permission. Not only would it not be legally recognized, but you could be charged with fraud, which is both a civil tort and a criminal offense. 

Ratelband Case

Ratelband case, even though decided by a court outside the US, provides the latest example of how courts deal with people’s requests to change their age according to their preferences. In the above case, Mr. Ratleband, a Dutch citizen, requested to reduce 20 years of his age, as he claimed that he was being discriminated against because of his age. 

The competent Dutch court argued that “Unlike the situation concerning a change in registered name or gender, there are a variety of rights and duties related to age, such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.”

Conclusion

The change of age in your birth certificate requires a more complicated procedure than the amendment of other personal data because the date of birth is factual information, and its amendment can bring legal implications.  

You can correct an error concerning your date of birth if you have enough evidence to support your claim. Except for sporadic cases, like a witness protection program, you can only change your age if you prove your official birth date is factually wrong.

For more, check out What to Do With Old Drivers License | Keep or Destroy?

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