Birth certificate changes rise following Real ID Act
FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics is experiencing a large demand for birth certificate services following the implementation of the Real ID Act.
The bureau is working with state and Navajo Nation agencies to provide residents with information and services to help them obtain a delayed birth registration and amend a birth certificate.
The New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division started issuing Real ID-compliant driver's license or identification cards on Nov. 14.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill last year to put the state in compliance with the federal Real ID Act of 2005.
Mark Kassouf, bureau chief for the state's vital records and health statistics, said the department has seen a "fairly significant increase" in activity since November.
There has been an increase in people amending their birth certificate to ensure their name matches the name used on other forms of identification required by the state MVD. Those documents include Social Security cards, W-2 forms, pay stubs and insurance and utility bills.
Kassouf said people are amending their birth certificate to use the English version or Spanish version of a name.
People are also switching their first and middle names if they have been using their middle name as their first name.
Those seeking to change their married name to their maiden name can provide the MVD documentation of the legal marriage when they submitted their name change, according to Kassouf. No change to the birth record is required.
Kassouf recommends people interested in amending their birth certificates request a copy of their birth record first from one of the bureau's 21 office statewide. That will help employees figure out what documents residents should bring in to the Santa Fe office or mail to them if they decide to pursue a name change.
It costs $10 to amend a birth certificate and $10 to issue a new birth certificate.
The bureau has been working with district courts across the state to hold name change clinics to help residents avoid the process of changing their name through a court filing. Those costs could include $170 in court fees and additional expenses for publishing a legal notice once a week for three consecutive weeks in a publication, including a newspaper.
Former district judge William Birdsall recently held a clinic Tuesday at the 11th District Courthouse here. At the clinic, he went over the forms of identification the MVD requires to establish a person's identity, age, Social Security number and proof of state residency. Birdsall also walked the nearly 50 people attending the clinic through the steps of filing a name change in court.
The clinic was helpful for Theresa Yazzie and her 83-year-old mother, Sarah B. Yazzie. Sarah changed her middle initial to a B when she got married, and all her documents include that initial.
"I had a B (initial) since 1950," Sarah Yazzie said.
But the initial G is currently listed on her birth certificate.
They learned Sarah can amend her birth certificate through the vital records and health statistics bureau.
"We were glad we didn't have to pay that money," Theresa Yazzie said, referring to court costs.
The bureau also has seen a large increase in people applying for a delayed registration of birth.
"Our delayed birth registrations volume has increased about 10 fold," Kassouf said.
The Navajo Nation Office of Vital Records and New Mexico vital records and health statistics has been hosting a series of clinics to help Navajos who do not have birth certificates complete delayed registrations of birth. A two-day clinic in April at the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Shiprock helped approve delayed registrations of birth for 135 people from 220 applicants, Kassouf said.
The bureau is hoping to hold another clinic in Crownpoint this summer.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.