How serious of a mistake is a typo in the birthdate of a candidate filling a PhD application in mathematics? For example, if the correct date is 08/10/2000 and the submitted one is exactly one day off, like 07/10/2000, while there have been official documents submitted supporting the correct date, (national ID, passport, etc), what may be the consequences for the applicant?

What should one do in such a situation? Should they conduct the institute recieving the applications, though it has been specified that no corrections are allowed after submission? Should they redress the application, if it is rejected?

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    It is very likely no consequence to anybody involved, but could cause problems down the line. For example, if the university has to sponsor a visa for you, and the visa has information that doesn't match your passport, then it can absolutely cause problems. Just contact the department, explain the error, and ask if they can correct the record.
    – David
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 1:15

1 Answer 1


First of all, there are cases where the age of the applicant might matter. Being a day off is not likely to bear any significance in the reviewing of an application, but being an year off could.

@David is correct, however, that it might still have a major impact on validity of any documents moving forward. It is a tough situation to be in, admittedly. There are two kinds of people in the loop: those reviewing applications substantially and those who help moving the papers around. Counter-intuitively, a formal mistake may create a lot more friction in a bureaucracy than a substantial one, because there are so many more entities involved. Leaving a lorem ipsum in the middle of your CV will cause a few raised eyebrows for a small handful of people. But having a visa or grant denied or massively delayed purely on the grounds of someone failing to carefully check their own info is not a minor thing (but the perceived severity of an infraction would depend heavily on the country/institutions in question, of course).

Overall, I would interpret the "no corrections" policy as "this creates a lot of unnecessary work for us, and we certainly do not want to see your third and revised version of SoP because this one clearly makes your application stronger". But the correction still has to be communicated. The best time to do that (often impossible to know from the outside) would be when the relevant paperwork is being filled and there is almost no disruption to the normal process. The second best time is as soon as possible.

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    Indeed the distinction is important. I suppose that the policy indeed is about significant matters (that matter for the decision), in any case, just contact them apologetically. Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 19:28

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