Birth certificate a key document

A birth certificate is one of the most important personal documents you will ever possess.
While it often is overlooked, your birth certificate not only is your record of birth, stating your name, birth date, birth location, and other essential information that is used to verify your identity, but it is essential for obtaining documents and services such as a Social Insurance Number, passport, driver’s licence, and pension.
It also is required by many banks to apply for loans or to receive many other services.
Despite the importance of this document, many people either do not have a copy, are unsure where it is, or have a tattered copy in their possession—not realizing the problems that this can cause.
Others may possess certificates with small errors, such as spelling mistakes, and not realize the potentially-significant problems down the road.
Unfortunately, problems such as these often only come up when the document is needed.
And while, in some cases, it is possible to obtain a new certificate within a few days, documents with errors can take weeks, months, or sometimes years to correct.
That’s why it is vitally important to ensure you have a copy of your birth certificate well in advance of actually needing it.
The majority of problems I’ve encountered with birth certificates involve human error. This includes typos by individuals entering the information, as well as names being misspelled on baptismal certificates or other documents used by the government to register the birth.
For example, in one case I encountered a woman who had been issued a birth certificate with her first name misspelled. Rather than go through the process of correcting the error, she chose to adopt the new spelling.
Decades later, when she wanted to apply for a passport, a newly-ordered birth certificate contained the correct spelling of her name, which resulted in her having to go through the lengthy process of legally changing her name to the spelling she had been using for more than four decades.
A similar situation occurred with an individual who was applying for CPP benefits.
While his original birth certificate was spelled in a way his family deemed to be correct, his newly-received certificate was based on the spelling on his baptismal record, which contained an error and led to unnecessary delays and frustrations.
Married women who have assumed, but not legally changed, their last name to their husband’s also could experience difficulty.
While in the past it was relatively easy to correct these minor mistakes, the increase in identity theft and concerns over security, as a result of the events on Sept. 11, 2001, have led to stricter regulations that now make it more difficult.
As with all Province of Ontario services, my constituency offices are here to assist you. Whether you need help obtaining a rushed birth certificate for travel, do not have Internet access and would like help submitting a form online, or if you need help correcting an error, I can help.
Either drop by one of my offices or call 1-800-465-8501 for assistance.