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Changes to dates of birth - New Guidance

There are many circumstances in which individuals can face challenges where their date of birth is incorrectly recorded, they cannot prove it or there is a dispute as to the correct date of birth of an individual.  The process for changing personal details can be hard to navigate. New guidance: Changes to dates of birth, version 1.0 was published on 14 September 2020 dealing with this issue and states:

“A date of birth is a record of a one-time event. It is used to determine the age of an individual, which affects how they are treated by the Home Office and law enforcement bodies. It is important for dates of birth to be accurately recorded as they impact on the rights, responsibilities and entitlements of individuals, including their access to education, employment, pensions, right to vote at elections, among many other rights and responsibilities.”

The guidance requires individuals to ‘possess a single identity’.  The guidance acknowledges that other biographic information can be changed, for example gender, nationality or name, but that dates of birth are fixed events and may only be amended in limited circumstances.  

Circumstances for Amendment

Dates of birth can only be amended in the following circumstances:

“To correct a record following:

  • a recording or notification error 
  • where a court or tribunal makes a ruling 
  • where an individual is found to have provided false information 
  • where new evidence arises, or the information was not previously available”

These are the only circumstances in which a date of birth can and will be amended.   The guidance stresses the importance of a date of birth, given that it is a ‘historical event’ and one that forms part of an individual’s identity and the fact it is relied upon across other government departments.

If there is ‘credible evidence’ that a date is incorrectly recorded it can be amended. By way of example a date of birth can be amended where there is a ‘transliteration error’ or if ‘an official mistyped’. 

A date of birth can be amended where a court of tribunal has made a finding that the date is different to the one recorded by the Secretary of State or the Registrar General. 

A date of birth can be amended in circumstances of fraud, where an individual has exercised deception, or obtained a document using false biographic detail. However there might be other implications in this regard in relation to nationality or status.   

The guidance sets out the steps to be taken in these circumstances:

“Where the official suspects an individual used criminal deception to obtain a Home Office document, they must consider referring the matter to the fraud investigation team or immigration enforcement to enable an interview to be taken under caution”.

On occasions, dates of birth might be allocated to individuals where there is no ‘satisfactory evidence’ of the date of birth.  If ‘strong evidence’ is later produced or following an initial assessment a local authority indicates that the date  is wrong, it can be amended. 

The guidance is clear that all the relevant circumstances will be taken into account:

“Officials must weigh up all the evidence an individual provides before agreeing to amend a date of birth…….Officials must afford an individual an opportunity to explain any discrepancies in the information they provide concerning their claimed date of birth before coming to a final decision on whether to amend Home Office records. Officials must consider whether the circumstance require the individual to be interviewed or whether the matter can be dealt with using correspondence. Where the official suspects an individual used criminal deception to obtain a Home Office document, they must consider referring the matter to the fraud investigation team or immigration enforcement to enable an interview to be taken under caution”.

The Home Office has guidance on assessing age for asylum applicants.  Decisions must be given in writing and written reasons to maintain provided.  Electronic records must be amended, although the original date of birth must be retained on the record, but not as the main personal details. 

Where a date of birth is incorrectly recorded in a birth registration, the following applies:

“To correct the date of birth in an entry, individuals may provide the following information: 

  • letter from doctor or midwife in attendance at time of birth 
  • letter from hospital or hospital records
  • baptismal certificate or equivalent (if other evidence is not available) 
  • letter from mother’s GP confirming date of birth from hospital records”

Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

In relation to Her Majesty’s Passport Office the Guidance states:  

“For individuals who have naturalised or registered as a British citizen, HM Passport Office primarily rely on information contained on the naturalisation or registration certificate.”

It further states that UKVI must ‘determine the identity of an individual’ and where passports or travel documents are not available, ‘other forms of documentation’ may be considered. 

Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs), Registration and Naturalisation Certificates

If the details on a biometric residence permit are incorrect this can be reported using the service: here.  Cancelled BRPs will need to be returned.  If vignettes are amended, previous incorrect ones must be cancelled before issuing news ones.  

The following applies to registration or naturalisation certificates:

“Individuals may apply for a replacement citizenship certificate if the one issued contained incorrect personal details (be that name or date of birth, in accordance with the corresponding change of biographic details policy). If the error was the fault of UKVI there would be no fee to pay, if it is not an error of the department then a fee of £250 is required to process the request. This only applies for individuals who became a British citizen on or after 1 October 1986. Individuals who were naturalised or registered as a British Citizens on or before 30 September 1986 cannot apply for an amended certificate. They can request a certified copy of their certificate from the National Archives but would need to contact UKVI for help if incorrect details were recorded”. 

The specific Home Office guidance relating to this issue can be found: here

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