All documents submitted to the Data Center for veriﬁcation, including birth certiﬁcates, marriage certiﬁcates, and court documents, must be certiﬁed copies issued by a duly authorized state or government agency. A certiﬁed copy is one that is guaranteed by the issuing authority to be a true and exact copy of the original. A photocopy of the certiﬁed copy cannot be used for veriﬁcation. All documents will be returned to you after they have been inspected for authenticity and photocopied by Data Center representatives.
Birth certiﬁcates must be submitted to support information provided on the Hawaiian Ancestry Registry (HAR) form. Original birth certiﬁcates are the primary documents used to verify ancestry because they generally reﬂect information based on ﬁrst hand knowledge of the circumstances at the time of birth.
Required birth certiﬁcates
Birth certiﬁcates must be submitted which allow us to trace Hawaiian ancestry from the applicant to an ancestor born in Hawai‘i in 1959 or earlier via a series of uninterrupted biological child-parent relationships. In general, this means that you will need birth certiﬁcates for the applicant, the Hawaiian parent, and the corresponding Hawaiian grandparent. If the Hawaiian grandparent was born after 1959 and/or was born outside of Hawai‘i, the corresponding Hawaiian great grandparent’s birth certiﬁcate is also required, and so on. This also means that only the birth certiﬁcate of the applicant and the Hawaiian parent would be required if the Hawaiian parent was born in Hawai‘i in 1959 or earlier.
If both sides of your family are Hawaiian, birth certiﬁcates for only one side are required. However, submitting documents for both sides of your family may expedite the veriﬁcation process. If there is a question about documents on one side, we will automatically try to verify ancestry via documents submitted for the other line.
Where to get birth certiﬁcates
Certiﬁcates for births in Hawai‘i may be obtained from the Vital Records section of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH). See page Where to Get Your Documents for information about obtaining Hawai‘i birth documents.
Certiﬁcates for births outside of Hawai‘i may be obtained from the Vital Records ofﬁce in the state in which the birth occurred. For a list of all U.S. Vital Records ofﬁces, visit the National Center for Health Statistics Web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.
What to do if a birth certiﬁcate is not available
If a required birth certiﬁcate cannot be found in the Vital Records ofﬁce archives, the department will issue you a “No–Record Certiﬁcation” document. This document must be submitted to the Data Center before alternative documents can be accepted in place of the non–existent birth certiﬁcate. At least two alternative documents are required, one of which must have been issued in 1959 or earlier. Some acceptable alternative documents are listed below:
- Marriage certiﬁcates
- Death certiﬁcates
- Certiﬁcates of baptism
The admissibility of alternate documents will be determined by the Data Center. It may also take longer to complete the veriﬁcation process when these types of documents are submitted. See page Where to Get Your Documents for information about obtaining vital documents.
Certiﬁcates of delayed birth and Hawaiian birth
Some types of birth certiﬁcates, including certiﬁcates of delayed birth and certiﬁcates of Hawaiian birth are issued more than a year after a child is born. These types of certiﬁcates are accepted for the veriﬁcation process, but may require additional documentation:
- A Delayed Certiﬁcate of Birth or Certiﬁcate of Hawaiian Birth issued after 1959, even for a person born in 1959 or earlier, will not meet our 1959 birth certiﬁcate requirements. Documents for this person’s Hawaiian parent will also have to be submitted.
- A Certiﬁcate of Hawaiian Birth must bear either the Department of Health certiﬁcation of ancestry and parent names OR it must be accompanied by the ofﬁcial testimony given at the time it was issued. If your certiﬁcate has neither of these things, take it to the Department of Health and ask them to add the ancestry certiﬁcation. For a fee, you may request a copy of the testimony if it is available.
One of the ways that parent-child relationships are veriﬁed is by comparing the parent name on the child’s birth certiﬁcate to the name on the birth certiﬁcate provided for the parent. If there is a signiﬁcant difference between the names on the two documents—for instance if the mother’s birth name was Mary Aloha but the mother’s name listed on her child’s birth certiﬁcate is Julie Aloha—additional documents are required.
If you are contacted by the Data Center because of a name discrepancy, you will need to submit additional supporting documents. The documents you submit must provide enough information to link the parent’s AND the child’s birth certiﬁcates.
Birth certificate amendments
Occasionally, the Data Center will examine the documents submitted by an applicant and ﬁnd evidence that it was amended or changed some time after the original birth certiﬁcate was issued.
Amendments to birth certiﬁcates are made under the following circumstances:
- Legal adoption
- Sex change
- Legal determination that there is no longer a relationship between the child and the person identiﬁed as a parent on the birth certiﬁcate
- The legitimation of a birth and/or name change due to legitimation (Legitimation is the act of providing legitimacy to a child born out of wedlock.)
Determine which amendment applies to you
The best way to determine which of the above circumstances applies to you, is to ask the biological parents of the person whose birth certiﬁcate was amended. If the parents are deceased or unavailable, it may help to talk to other members of your ‘ohana. If information is still not available, try to establish if the parents of the person whose birth certiﬁcate was amended were married to each other at the time of birth. If they were married, it is possible that an adoption occurred. If the parents were not married at the time of birth, a legitimation amendment may have taken place.
Amendments caused by adoption
If you discover that the birth certiﬁcate amendment was caused by adoption, please refer to our adoption document requirements.
Amendments caused by legitimation
Legitimation is the act of providing legitimacy to a child born out of wedlock by adding a father’s name to the birth certiﬁcate and/or by the subsequent marriage of the parents. If you ﬁnd that the amendment to the birth certiﬁcate was caused by legitimation, please refer to our paternity document requirements.
Submitting amendment documents to the Data Center
Once you determine what caused the amendment to the birth certiﬁcate, you must submit a sworn statement to the Data Center along with supporting documents. The written statement need not be notarized, but should include the following information:
- Exactly what information was amended on the birth certiﬁcate
- An explanation of why the amendment was made
- The identity of the BIRTH parents of the person whose birth certiﬁcate was amended
This statement should be signed by a person with ﬁrst hand knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the amendment. For example, if the amendment was to the applicant’s father’s birth certiﬁcate, do not submit a statement signed by his wife because it is highly unlikely that she would have ﬁrst hand knowledge of the events surrounding his birth. The signed statement in this case would ideally come from the father’s parents.
If the cause of the amendment is unknown
If you’ve conﬁrmed that none of the situations above apply, the Department of Health may supply information about administrative irregularities or errors that might have occurred to cause the amendment. These errors occur very infrequently, so the DOH should be contacted only as a last resort.
Amendments to mainland birth certiﬁcates
Similar document requirements apply to mainland birth certiﬁcate amendments. Because laws differ by state, information should be obtained from the state in which the birth occurred. Helpful information can be found on most states’ Vital Records ofﬁce Web sites. For a list of ofﬁces nationwide, visit the National Center for Health Statistics Web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.