The birth certificate is a vital record issued by the state government offices containing all relevant information regarding a U.S. citizen’s identity at birth, such as complete name for the child, gender, place of birth, date and time of birth, and information on the parents like complete names and citizenship.
In this article we will provide you all info on how to register a birth, and how to get a birth certificate (whether it's yours, or someone else's). You will also learn how both processes (i.e. birth registration and getting a certified copy of a birth record) change depending on whether the person is born in the United States, born abroad, or born abroad and adopted by American citizens.
The birth record is the most important document for a United States citizen, since it proves his or her identity, age and citizenship status. It is most commonly used to carry out procedures like the issuing of a passport, obtaining a social security number, enrolling in a school, formalizing employment, getting a driver’s license, joining the military, claiming benefits for a pension, insurance or other government benefits.
When a child is born at a hospital in the United States, parents will be given the corresponding forms to be filled out and submitted to the county or state. Depending on the place of birth, forms can be sent directly by the hospital to the county, or the child’s parents could be asked to do so within the first three to four weeks after birth. Hospitals will also provide a temporary record of birth, but this document is not official and therefore cannot be used to apply for administrative procedures.
If a child is born to American parents abroad, they should register the birth at the country’s U.S. Embassy or consulate in order to receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), which will serve as an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship or nationality.
If a child was born abroad and is adopted by a US citizen, the child will not receive a U.S. birth certificate, but it will be the birth country the responsible for issuing the certificate. It will also be important for the adopted child to hold copies of his or her naturalization and citizenship papers obtained through the U.S. Citizenship and Inmigration Services (USCIS), with address at 111 Massachusetts Ave., NW, MS 2260, Washington, DC 20529-2260.
If you wish to get a copy of your birth certificate, it will be necessary to contact the Vital Records office in the state where you were born. You may use the table below in order to locate the office corresponding to your State:
Depending on the specific procedures for each state, it could be possible to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate without identification, or using alternate ID proofs, such as a sworn statement of identity, or a notarized letter from one of the concerned citizen’s parents, whose name appears in the original birth certificate, along with a copy of his or her photo ID.
To avoid an incomplete or delayed application process, the information you should have at hand when contacting the vital records office per mail or when presenting yourself in person is the following:
*In some counties, it may be required for the requestor to provide driver’s license number and issuing State
There are three main procedures to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate, based on the place where the concerned person was born:
You will be required to write or go to the vital records office from the state where you were born and order a copy of the birth certificate following the State’s application guidelines and covering the requested paying fees. It is possible to obtain an expedite service or shipping to get the copy in a shorter period; this request should be communicated when placing the order.
There is also the possibility to order your vital records online through VitalCheck, an authorized agency for the online ordering of official copies or replacements of government-issued records. Information needed to place an order at their website is same as the one mentioned above.
If you were born to American parents abroad, you are eligible to obtain certified copies of your Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) through the U.S. Department of State, with address at 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705, by sending a complete application along with a check or money order for $40.00 per document. Typically, a CRBA may take four to eight weeks for issuing from the correct receipt of the application.
Depending on the country where the birth took place, it may also be possible that the birth is listed in a vital records office of that nation, so you could request the record with them depending on the purpose for which you need to obtain the certificate.
If a child was born in a military base abroad, it may be the case that the parents couldn’t register the birth at the U.S. embassy, so it will be required to contact the hospital where the person was born, or alternatively, contact the base operator or the public affairs office for the corresponding military branch.
If you were born abroad and adopted by a US citizen, you may obtain a copy of your birth certificate at the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for your birth country. The embassy may also help you obtain a translation of the birth record in case the authenticated copy is not written in English.
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Administrative Procedures in other countries: