Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Letter of the Day | Why isn’t a standard date format in place?

Published:Monday | July 4, 2022 | 12:35 AM


I was born on February 6, 1940, and it was so recorded on my birth certificate. In the early days this was written quite logically as 6-2-40: day, month and year, respectively. After a time, we – the copycats that we are – began to write month, day, year, respectively, even as we continued use of the other format. On my Voter’s ID issued in 2015, my birthday was recorded as, “2-6-1940”, presumably February 6, 1940. On my driver’s licence issued in 2018 the date of birth is recorded as “1940-02-06”; presumably February 6, 1940 as well. Both dates were recorded based on the record on my birth certificate. However, the same date cannot be written in two different formats in the same country without ultimately causing confusion or even worse.

I applied for renewal of drivers’ licence and voter ID on February 15, 2022. My date of birth on the expired Voter’s ID card was written as, “2/6/1940” as stated above. This was tendered at the Electoral Office when the application was made. Yet when I returned to collect my new ID card, my date of birth was stated as, “June 2, 1940” – an obvious misinterpretation of the very date recorded by them seven years ago!

Now I am told to submit my birth certificate – at my cost – in order to have their error corrected. Can the Electoral Office of Jamaica advise us if this is an isolated case or whether there are others? The country must wake up to the utter confusion that might lie ahead if there is not a consistent method of recording dates, but especially when dealing with official records. My date of birth on the new driver’s licence like the old was, “1940-02-06”. These are two government entities. Why is there the disparity and confusion and inconvenience and added cost to the public?