How to Obtain Birth Certificates?
The United States uses birth certificates to keep vital records of everyone born in America. Birth certificates contain basic information such as the date, time and place of birth, name given to the baby and gender, parent’s names, and parent’s dates and places of birth. Your birth certificate is the most important document you will ever need by validating your legal identity and age.
There are many instances throughout your life that you will need a copy of your birth certificate. Some reasons you might need one are for travel and obtaining a passport, joining the military, getting a marriage license, or social security card. Other purposes might be obtaining a driver’s license, applying for financing, registering for school or sports as well as employment.
Thankfully if you follow this guide, you will have no trouble obtaining a copy of your birth certificate.
If You Were Born in the U.S.A.
There are a few ways that you can obtain a copy of your birth certificate if you were born in the United States. This process will vary by state. However, the basics will remain pretty much the same.
Where to Go
First, you will need to locate and contact the vital records office in the county where you were born. In some towns, you may visit the town clerk’s or vital records office, in the city you reside, and they may also be able to get you a copy.
Information You Will Need
First, you will need to fill out an application for a copy of your birth certificate. The form may vary by state. You will need to provide at least the following information:
- Name of the child.
- Date of birth.
- Child’s gender.
- Name of the birth mother.
- Maiden name of mother.
- Name of the father.
- Applicant’s name.
- Applicant’s address, city, state and zip code.
- Applicant’s phone.
- Applicant’s email.
- Reason for the certificate request.
- Applicant’s signature.
- Relationship to the person on record.
- A photo ID such as driver’s license, military ID or passport.
Birth certificates are private, and you must only request a copy in cases where you have a "direct and tangible interest" in the record. It is a Class B Felony if you make any false statements on your application for a copy of a vital record.
In some states and counties, you will be required to have your application notarized by a public notary before submitting it.
If the state and county where you make your request cannot find a record of you in the system, you will receive a document called a “Statement of No Birth Record Found.”
There will be a non-refundable fee associated with a certified copy, and in most cases, you can obtain one the day you visit. Your other option is to order a copy through the mail. Fees will range from $5-$35 depending on the county and state where you obtain one.
If you visit the office in person, you will need to bring some form of payment for the fee. Depending on the state and county you may be able to pay with a check, money order, bank check, debit or credit cards.
You also have the option of using a service like VitalChek.com where you can search for and obtain a copy quickly. The copy will be mailed to you, and you will need to pay online using a credit or debit card. VitalCheck.com is a secure, government-authorized service and is acceptable for use in obtaining copies of many vital records.
If you order your birth certificate online or through the vital records office in your area, you may also need to include money for postage or a stamped, self-addressed envelope with your application.
There are specific situations where you were born outside of America and therefore do not have a U.S. birth certificate. In those cases, you can obtain the proper documentation by following the steps below.
If You Were Born Abroad or on a Military Base Abroad
If you were born outside of the United States to American parents, they were required to register your birth record with the American Embassy or Consulate in that country. In this instance, they would be issued a document called a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad.”
You will need to contact the U.S. Department of State office to obtain a copy of this document. You may also contact the hospital where you were born; they will have a copy of this record. Another option would be to contact the vital records office within the country you were born to find out how to obtain the document.
If you were born to a military parent outside of the U.S., you could contact the base operator or public affairs department for that branch of the military to obtain your paperwork.
If You Were Born Out of the Country and Adopted by a U.S. Parent
If you were born in another country and then adopted by American parents, you will not have a United States birth certificate. The record of your birth will be in the country you were born in, and you must contact the embassy or consulate for that country to obtain a copy.
The document may be in another language, and the embassy can help you get it translated.
Along with your birth certificate from a country outside of America, your parents will have had to register you for naturalization/citizenship documents as well showing that you are indeed a U.S. citizen. You can contact immigration services if you need a copy of that as well.
If you need a copy of your birth certificate quickly, be sure to let the vital records office know that or call well in advance for wait times. In some cases, you will wait up to a month before receiving a copy. If you use a service like VitalChek.com, they do offer expedited, overnight service but additional fees may apply.
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