Obtaining a Birth Certificate

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 What Is a Birth Certificate?

A birth certificate is a legal identification document. This is a required document that is issued and completed for all births in the United States. Generally speaking, birth certificates in the United States are fairly standard from state to state. Additionally, the information that is listed on most birth certificates mirrors the details of birth certificates in other countries. 

Informational birth certificates are not considered to be official, or certified. This is due to the fact that such birth certificates are not filed with the state records office. Rather, they are filed and printed by the hospital, and are intended to be used for keepsake purposes. As such, they cannot be used for any legal purposes. Informational birth certificates generally contain the following information:

  • The child’s name;
  • Each parent’s name;
  • The time and date of the child’s birth;
  • The city, county, and state in which the child was born; and
  • The child’s foot and handprints.

A certified copy of a birth certificate contains more information related to the birth of the child, and serves as an official record of the birth. It is issued by the state’s records office, and is a legal document that may be used as a form of identification. This type of birth certificate can also be used to obtain the following forms of identification:

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

The following information must be included in order for the document to be an authorized birth certificate:

  • The child’s full name, spelled correctly, including first, middle, and last names;
  • The city, country, and state in which the birth occurred;
  • The date and time of the birth;
  • The child’s sex as assigned by the doctor at birth;
  • Details about the birth, such as if the child was born single or as a twin, etc.;
  • The father’s full name;
  • The father’s birth date, as well as the location of the father’s own birth;
  • The mother’s full name, including her maiden name;
  • The mother’s birth date, as well as the location of the mother’s own birth; and
  • The city, country, and state of residence in which the child’s birth parents live.

Who Keeps Track of Birth Certificates?

Each state has its own Department of Vital Statistics, which maintains vital records for the state. This includes birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce records. The National Center for Health Statistics, or “NCHS,” works with individual states to compile birth statistics into the National Vital Statistics System. 

This specific project provides information contained on birth certificates, which is collected through standard forms created by the aforementioned authorities in order to collect relevant birth data. Costs for providing such data for national use are shared by the NCHS and each individual state.

Simply put, birth certificates are issued at the state level. Each state is legally obligated to report all annual vital statistics data to the federal government. However, if a baby is born to American parents while overseas, the U.S. Department of State is responsible for collecting that information. 

Where Can I Obtain My Birth Certificate? How Can I Obtain My Birth Certificate?

If you need to obtain your birth certificate, there will most likely be an official certificate of your birth on file in the locality in which you were born. Because these are state records, they should be located in your state’s vital statistics office, or an equivalent local office. It is important to note that fees associated with requesting a copy of your birth certificate can differ widely based on where you were born.

There are many reasons why a person may need to obtain a copy of their birth certificate. Two of the most common reasons for doing so are if the birth certificate becomes lost or stolen. It is important to always have an attainable copy of your birth certificate for the following reasons:

  • Applying for or renewing various government issued identification documents;
  • Applying for social security benefits, especially a social security card;
  • Joining the military;
  • Claiming pension and/or insurance benefits;
  • Applying for various other memberships, credit cards, etc.; and
  • Registering for school, among others. 

The exact process to obtain your birth certificate may vary. Where you were born will determine how you will request and receive a copy. Generally speaking, if you were born in the United States, you will need to contact the vital records office in the state in which you were born. From this website, you can find information regarding how to request a copy of your certificate, as well as what fees you will need to pay.

If you were born abroad to American parents, it is likely that they registered your birth with that country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. In doing so, they should have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (or “CRBA”). You would need to obtain a copy of the CRBA through the U.S. Department of State. Additionally, depending on the country, a vital records office located in that specific country may also have records of your birth.

However, this process differs if you were born on an American military base in a different country. In such cases, your parents may not have registered your birth with the country’s United States embassy. You would then need to contact the hospital in which you were born to determine how to obtain a copy of your birth certificate.

Finally, if you were born in a different country and were adopted by American parents, they would not have received a U.S. birth certificate. This is because the country in which you were born would have issued the certificate. In order to obtain a copy, you would need to contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for the country in which you were born. The embassy can also assist in getting the document authenticated, and/or translated into English.

What Facts Do I Need to Include?

When making your request, you will need to include specific information so that the vitals statistics department can locate your birth certificate. Some of the required information for obtaining a birth certificate includes, but may not be limited to:

  • Your full name, including your maiden name if necessary;
  • Your assigned sex at birth;
  • Your parents’ full names, as they would have appeared on your birth certificate;
  • Your reason for needing a copy, such as your original copy being destroyed in a natural disaster; and
  • Your relationship to the person whose birth certificate is being requested, if you are requesting someone else’s records.

Do I Need a Lawyer Experienced with Birth Certificate Issues?

Having a correct birth certificate is necessary for many different areas of life. A lawyer for birth certificate correction issues can help simplify a sometimes complicated and tedious process. If you are experiencing any issues associated with your birth certificate, you should consult with an experienced and local government lawyer

An experienced and local government attorney will be able to determine your best course of legal action, and can assist with the process of obtaining your birth certificate. Additionally, a government attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, should any legal issues arise regarding your birth certificate.

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