You Might Want to Check Your Birth Certificate

Do you have a copy of your birth certificate handy? If so, you might want to make sure there are no typos: correcting one isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Most of us likely have two things in common: we’ve never had much of a reason to read our own birth certificate and we likely don’t have a copy immediately handy.

If you fall into either of those categories, you might want to take action.

This suggestion comes after reading about a 37-year-old Georgia woman who discovered too late that her birth certificate contained a minor typographical error: it listed her as a male instead of a female.

Most of the time, when someone actually needs her birth certificate, there’s a specific reason because there’s a specific task that needs to be accomplished, whether it’s getting a passport or a new driver’s license. In this woman’s case, she was trying to get her license renewed, a process that should not require, in my opinion, a birth certificate.

In this case, because the certificate listed her as male, Georgia’s DMV told her she’d have to schedule a pap smear with her doctor and have him send the results, notarized, to the office.

I am not making this up.

She ended up working it out through a less “hands-on” method when an inquiry by Atlanta’s WAGA-TV got involved, and state officials were able to confirm that the same person was listed as the mother to her children on their birth certificates, thereby proving the otherwise obvious: she must be an F instead of an M, after all.

When I moved back to South Carolina from nearly four years in Virginia, I had to get a copy of my birth certificate to get my South Carolina driver’s license renewed. It made no sense to me: they already knew who I was as I was still in their system. I had a valid Virginia driver’s license. It was my impression that South Carolina and Virginia were sufficiently acquainted with each other and cooperated well enough that such confirmation would have been easy to accomplish.

Virginia’s Department of Transportation issued me a Virginia driver’s license when I presented my South Carolina driver’s license as valid photo identification. South Carolina could have saved itself a lot of time — and me as well — if it would have likewise accepted Virginia’s driver’s license as valid identification that it should have been able to crosscheck with my driver’s license.

Of course, South Carolina isn’t exactly a state always associated with the concept of playing well with others. (And it seems quite pleased with this fact a good deal of the time.)

If you don’t have your birth certificate, you might want to consider getting a copy while you aren’t in a time crunch: that way, you’ll know whether there’s a mistake and, if you find one, you’ll have time to deal with it when nothing as important as a valid driver’s license is hanging over your head. You never know when you might actually need it; saving yourself the hassle of trying to correct a mistake is worth it.


  1. This ties in well with the woman I talked to this week at work who, while standing near the Reference Desk talking on her phone, said, “I need to know where I was born, what town. … No, I don’t know! I wasn’t there…” at which point she and I locked eyes and she continued “…ok, I was there but…you know… I’ll ask the librarian.” And we both started laughing as she hung up and said, “That was my dad. Do you know what city Blah-Blah Religious Denomination Hospital is?” Yay for Google. Boo, Dad! 😀

  2. When I applied for a passport back when I was in high school, it was discovered that my birth certificate had a typographical error. My middle name was spelled wrong. This was easily corrected, luckily.  Because of that situation, I’m aware that my birth certificate is correct. 🙂

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.