Birth certificates are legal identification documents. They are required documents which are issued and are completed for all individuals who are born in the United States.

In general, birth certificates in the U.S. are fairly standard from state to state. In addition, the information which is listed on the majority of birth certificates mirrors the details of birth certificates from other countries.

A certified copy of a birth certificate contains more information related to the birth of the child and also serves as an official record of their birth. These birth certificates are issued by the state records office and are a legal document which may be used as a form of identification.
A certified birth certificate may also be used to obtain the following forms of identification:

  • Driver’s license;
  • Passport;
  • Social security card; and
  • Marriage license.

Who Keeps Track of Birth Certificates?

Every state has its own Department of Vital Statistics that maintains the vital records for the state, including:

  • Birth certificates;
  • Death certificates;
  • Marriage licenses; and
  • Divorce records.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) works with individual states to compile birth statistics into the National Vital Statistics System. This project provides information that is contained in birth certificates that is collected through standard forms which are created by the authorities discussed above in order to collect relevant birth data.

The cost for providing this type of data for national use is shared by the NCHS and each individual state. Birth certificates are issued at the state level.

Every state is legally obligated to report all annual vital statistics data to the federal government. If a baby is born, however, to an American parent while overseas, the United States Department of State is responsible for collecting that information.

Where Can I Obtain My Birth Certificate?

If an individual needs to obtain their birth certificate, an official certificate of their birth will likely be on file in the locality in which they were born. Because these records are state records, they should be located in the state’s vital statistics office, of the equivalent office.

It is important to note that the fees which are associated with requesting a copy of an individual’s birth certificate may vary widely depending upon where they were born.

There are numerous reasons why an individual may be required to obtain a copy of their birth certificate. Two of the most common reasons include if their birth certificate is lost or stolen.

It is important for an individual to have a copy of their birth certificate in order to:

  • Apply for or renew various government issued identification documents;
  • Apply for social security benefits, especially a social security card;
  • Join the military;
  • Claim pension and/or insurance benefits;
  • Apply for various other memberships, credit cards, etc.; and
  • Register for school; and
  • Other activities.

How Can I Obtain My Birth Certificate?

The exact process for an individual to obtain their birth certificate may vary. Where an individual was born will determine how they will request and receive a copy.

In general, if an individual was born in the United States, they will need to contact the vital records office in the state in which they were born. From the vital records website, an individual can find information regarding how to request a copy of their birth certificate as well as the fees that they will be required to pay.

If an individual was born abroad to American parents, it is likely that their birth was registered in that country’s United States embassy or consulate. When this occurs, the parents should have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).

An individual would need to obtain a copy of the CRBA through the United States Department of State. In addition, depending on the country, the vital records offices located in that specific country may also have records of the birth.

This process will differ if an individual was born on an American military base in a different country. In that situation, the individual’s parents may not have registered their birth with the country’s United States embassy.

The individual will be required to contact the hospital in which they were born to determine how to obtain a copy of their birth certificate. If an individual was born in a different country and was adopted by American parents, they would not have received a United States birth certificate.

This is because the country in which they were born would have issued the birth certificate. This is due to the fact that the country in which they were born would have issued the certificate.

In order to obtain a copy, the individual would be required to contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for the country in which they were born. The embassy can also assist in having the document authenticated and/or translated into English.

How Do You Change Your Gender on Your Birth Certificate in California?

The laws which pertain to transgender rights vary by state. This includes whether a birth certificate can be amended for gender in an individual’s state.

In many states, an individual must undergo a gender reassignment surgery prior to applying for a change to their birth certificate. This was previously required in California.

However, beginning September 1, 2018, this is no longer required. In order to ensure that an individual’s legal documents, including their birth certificate, reflect their gender reassignment, an individual will need to complete the documents and file them with the appropriate authority.

What is the Legal Procedure for Amending the Gender on your Birth Certificate?

Previously, the State of California required that an individual file a petition for gender change in any county in the state. As of January 1, 2018, a California resident who was born in California may submit an application for gender change directly to the State Registrar in addition to an affidavit which affirms that the change is required in order to conform to the individual’s gender identity and is not for fraudulent purposes.

An attestation from a doctor is not required. The individual’s old birth certificate is sealed and their new birth certificate is issued. If an individual is also applying for a name change on their birth certificate, they will be required to apply for this separately.

If an individual was not born in California but they now reside there, the individual will still be required to file a petition with the superior court in their county in California which requests the legal change of gender as well as requests a new birth certificate to reflect that. The court will then issue a judgment providing the gender change as well as ordering that a new birth certificate should be prepared.

A doctor attestation is required after September 1, 2018.

What is the Court Order Procedure?

In order to obtain a court order, an individual is required to complete the following steps:

  • Fill out necessary court forms;
  • Go to a court hearing; and
  • Receive the Decree Changing Name and Gender from the court.

Do I Need to Consult an Attorney?

The process for changing your gender on your birth certificate in California is fairly straightforward. It may take a while and there are numerous steps but, in most cases, it does not require the assistance of an attorney unless you want to verify you are taking the correct steps.

If, however, you do encounter problems such as requiring attestation from a physician but it is refused due to discrimination or another roadblock which cannot be overcome by filing a form, it may be helpful to consult with a California government lawyer. Your attorney can advise you regarding the next steps and assist you in having your birth certificate changed.