LEGAL AID: Can I change my son's names?

Tuesday January 14 2020


I want to apply for a birth certificate for my two-year-old son but I need to change the middle and surname on the birth notification. The names are my son's biological fathers name. How can I do this please?



Lily, welcome to 2020

At birth every child enjoys recognition that is both social and legal. Legal acknowledgement of any child is foundational to all other antecedent and auxiliary rights and responsibilities.


In particular it’s the basis upon which state recognition, documentation and obligation is derived.

Similarly, social recognition serves to meet the expectations and commitments of families and the community at large to the wellbeing of a child.

In the aforementioned context, I wish to state that registration of birth of a child is their first fundamental right as it breathes legal life into their presence or existence. Registration guarantees the child’s right to a name and nationality.

Lily, you wish to apply for a birth certificate for your two-year-old son. In this process, you intend to change part of the name as enumerated in the birth notification, by replacing the middle and surname.

The advice shared is directed by the assumption that this will be the first but late registration.

Under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, any registration of birth taken after six months is considered late, which is synonymous with your purposed action.

Such registration requires submission of the following documents aided in Form GP 138 A:

a)    County notification of birth (from a recognized health centre where the birth of child occurred)

b)    Certificate of doctor or midwife who attended the birth

c)    Child immunisation clinic card

d)    Baptismal card for those of the Christian faith and an equivalent for other religions

e)    Identify card or passport of the parent

f)     Any other document that the registrar in her or his sole discretion may require

Currently there is no law governing change of name from birth notification to a birth certificate. It is however important to note that, birth notification does not denote registration of birth.

In addition, its possession does not necessarily guarantee issuance of birth certificate.

Nonetheless, it is an administrative document that assists the government to identify location and date of birth of the child, besides confirming the name of the mother.

This put together tend to ease process of registration of birth.

Therefore, change of name from birth notification to birth certificates is solely dependent on the counsel of the registrar of birth.