Making Corrections to Records
One of the requirements of the Italian consulate is that all names, places and dates must match across all records. Some consulates are more particular and require the records match exactly while others aren’t as concerned about minor discrepancies such as dates that are a few days off, first names and even minor misspellings in the last names. For example, the San Francisco consulate will accept minor discrepancies in your ancestors records but all of the names, dates and places for you, your spouse and your children must match exactly across all records including birth and marriage certificates.
Most states have a process to amend records. The information can often be found on the state’s vital records website or the county or city clerk’s office website of where the document was issued. The process usually requires you provide some proof of what you are trying to correct, then fill out a form and sign an affidavit in front of a notary if you can’t go into the office in person. I’ve worked with three states across the country to make corrections on various records and this has been the process with each state. Proof may include other certified vital records and certified naturalization certificates. In states where you have the option to work with a local city or county clerk’s office, this is usually preferable for the reasons listed in this article.
If you are making corrections on records for anybody but yourself and the person is still alive, they will likely need to be the ones who sign the affidavit in front of a notary. If the person is deceased, you may need to present proof of the death and the next closest ancestor down the line will likely need to sign the affidavit. For example, I needed to add my great grandfather’s birth date to his death certificate. Since my mom is the next closest living relative, she is the one that needs to sign the affidavit.
In any case, it is a good idea to call and talk with a representative to find out what the process to amend a record is. The contact information can usually be found on their website although you may need to dig around for it. They can often provide information on what you need to do and time saving tips that are not always listed on their website. Also, when you speak with them, make sure to let them know you will need the corrected document in long form which must include the city and not just the county of where the event took place. Before you request a change to any record, make sure you have compared all records to confirm there are no further discrepancies you need to correct. Correcting everything at once will save you time and money.
Some records, such as the naturalization certificate, cannot be easily amended. If you are in a situation where you cannot amend the record, it is best to write to your Italian consulate to find out what you will need to provide. In my case, the birth date on my great grandfather’s Italian birth certificate was a few days off from the birth date on his American records, including his naturalization certificate. I emailed the Italian consulate and they indicated that if his certified naturalization papers (declaration of intent and application for naturalization which I got from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)) accurately included his spouses name and correctly listed his children this would probably be sufficient. Other consulates may require different proof.
If you run into problems on getting information on how to amend a vital record, escalate to a higher level or try a different office (e.g. the state if you are working with a local office). Whether through an affidavit or a court order there is very likely an avenue to be able to change a record and it is just a matter of finding the right person who can help. Persistence is the key here.
What corrections have you had to make on your records? What was your experience in getting this done?