How to Get a Copy of Your Birth Certificate

Birth certificates

A certified birth certificate or copy is an important document to have on hand as a required form of identification – in fact, you can consider it to be the Mount Everest of personal identification. Not only does your birth certificate allow you to prove your identity as well as your citizenship, but it also qualifies you for a Social Security card as well as other additional benefits.

Your birth certificate has a raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal as well as a registrar’s signature, and the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office, which must be within 1 year of the your birth date.

Reasons You May Need a Copy of Your Birth Certificate

There are multiple reasons why you may want a copy of your birth records including:
  • To enroll in schools or the military.
  • If you want to travel outside the United States, you need to obtain a passport which requires having a copy of your birth certificate.
  • If you don’t have a passport, then you need a copy of your birth records if you want to get a driver’s license or a marriage license. Additionally, without a passport, when showing up to work for the first day, you may need your birth certificate to prove that you are authorized to work in the United States.
  • To apply for government and private benefits (such as insurance and Social Security benefits).
  • There are several jobs that may require you to show proof of where you were born.

A birth certificate is considered valid proof of US citizenship by federal, state and local government agencies.

Do You Qualify to Request a Birth Certificate?

The Public Records Request Act allows records that are classified as public certificates to be requested by anyone, however birth certificates typically don’t fall under this category as they are considered a vital record.
The federal government doesn’t have the ability to provide copies of birth certificates or any other personal vital records. To get a copy of your birth certificate, or really any vital record such as a marriage license or death certificate, you can only make the request from the state where the document was originally filed.
Just about every state provides a centralized source from which you can make a request for your birth certificate, however each state has it’s own laws as to who can make the request, but in general, you must have a connection to the person whose birth certificate you are requesting such as:
  • Parent/Step-parent
  • Sibling/Half-sibling
  • Spouse
  • Children/step-children
  • Power of Attorney
  • Legal representative
  • You can request a copy of your certificate as long as you are 18 years or older and can provide the right documentation.

Go to cdc.gov to get the phone number and address of your state’s office.

What You Need to Get It

This varies state-from-state, however you typically will need to provide a photo ID as well as pay some type of replacement fee which can range from $5 to $30.

How Long it Takes

If you show up to the state office, you can get your certificate within the day. Making a request online or by phone, then you can typically expect a certified copy of your birth certificate to arrive within four weeks. If you need expedited service, you can pay additional fees to guarantee that your certificate arrives within two weeks or if it’s an emergency, you can pay for overnight service.

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