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When you are born, a birth certificate is the first official record a United States citizen can have in his or her possession, aside from a Social Security Number. A record of birth is often used for identity purposes, and is accepted by all government agencies, as well as local and federal businesses, alike. Additionally, a birth record can be used to obtain other crucial documents, such as passports, driver’s licenses or a marriage certificates. Oftentimes, when a birth certificate is requested for proof of identification, you can turn in either the original document that conveys details about the birth itself, or a certified copy that acts as proof of registration. In the United States, a birth record is considered confidential information, so other citizens have very limited access to it for 100 years from the date of birth. Many states rely on the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics to obtain an application that records the birth of each and every individual in the nation. Depending on the state you were born in, the particulars of your birth certificate, including its layout and information, may vary. In order for a birth certificate to be considered official, it must contain details about your full name, where you were born, as well as signatures from appropriate parties. Additionally, a hospital administrator is required to fill out the accompanying standard form. Certain hospitals even allow new parents to request a souvenir birth certificate, which shows footprints of their newborn child.

How to Order a Birth Certificate for Your Newborn Baby

To begin the process of getting a birth certificate for your newborn baby, you will need to fill out a specific form that is provided at the hospital. During this time, it is also advisable that you register a Social Security Number for your child. Learn more about how to order a birth certificate at the hospital where your baby was born by speaking to your physician and the hospital or birthing center's front desk administrator.

How to Order a Birth Certificate for Yourself

Although some states have official birth records that date back to the late 1800s, the majority of these official documents of birth have been recorded since the 1920s. The fees a person is charged to obtain a copy of his or her birth certificate varies from state to state. Only personal checks or money orders are accepted. However, the process to get a certified birth certificate is simple: You can make your request with the Bureau of Vital Statistics or through your state’s Department of Health. Convenient service options may include filing a birth certificate request online, by mail, via fax or email. Make sure to contact your state’s issuance office for additional information.

When requesting a certified copy of birth certificates, you must include a sworn statement, along with your completed form, and have it properly signed and notarized. If you do not have a notarized statement, your application for a certified copy will be denied. For the Bureau of Vital Statistics or state Department of Health to easily identify you, you must also include a form of valid government ID along with your request.

If you need to request an older birth record that dates back to before the 1900s, you will need to contact the State Archives, or the local issuance office in the county where your birth took place.

How to Get a Birth Certificate for Another Citizen

If you are trying to get the a birth record of another person, you must be able to show tangible interest.  The purpose of tangible interest is to protect these confidential records from fraud or identity theft. A person is considered to have tangible interest if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • You are the person listed on the record.
  • You are the child, spouse, grandchild, grandparent, parent or another approved immediate family member of the subject.
  • You have legal guardianship or custody of the subject.
  • You are the successor of the subject if he or she is deceased.
  • You are a licensed attorney or a personal representative of the subject’s estate.
  • You are a representative of a local, state or federal government entity.
  • You are an individual who has a court order for the release of the birth certificate.
  • You have notarized permission from one of the aforementioned persons to obtain a birth certificate on his or her behalf.
  • You are a representative of an adoption company.

Take note that you may be asked to show proof of identification, such as your valid driver’s license, along with other documentation. Learn more about ordering a birth certificate by contacting your state’s issuance office or the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Why You Need a Birth Certificate

On different occasions, you may be required to present a record of birth in order to verify who you are. There are many reasons why you will need to have this vital record readily available, including the following:

  • Traveling purposes – In order to obtain a United States passport, you must present your birth certificate as proof of ID and citizenship. Keep in mind that photocopies or notarized copies of your birth certificate are not accepted.
  • Educational purposes – A child’s birth certificate is often requested when he or she is enrolling in school, whether it is kindergarten or high school. If your family has recently moved to a new city or state, you will also need to have this vital record on hand.
  • To obtain a driver’s license – All Department of Motor Vehicles throughout the country require drivers to show proof of identity when applying for a driver’s license. A birth certificate is considered an acceptable form of documentation.
  • To obtain a Social Security card – If applying for a Social Security Number, you will need to show proof of your birth record. If your Social Security card was lost or stolen, a certified copy of your birth certificate may also be used to obtain a new one.
Licenses.org is a privately owned website that is not affiliated with any government agencies.