July 18, 2024

Birth certificates are widely used across the country as a federally-approved form of identification. With new restrictions on passports, Star ID driver licenses, and other citizenship documentation, making sure you have a copy of your birth certificate is vital. If you don’t have a copy, now’s the time to order birth certificate copies.

What is a birth certificate?

A birth certificate is classified as a Vital Records Document issued by the United States Federal Government. (1) A birth certificate documents the birth of a child, and in America, that establishes automatic eligibility for citizenship. (2) (Though you can be born abroad to American parents and still be issued an American birth certificate to establish citizenship.) You can order birth certificate copies though a birth certificate ordering and expediting service in most states.

Why Do I Need A Birth Certificate?

Birth Certificates are an official notation of personal information, and are usually a tool to legally prove your identity. You’ll need one to: (3)

  • Apply for a passport
  • Apply for government benefits
  • Enroll in some schools
  • Join the military
  • Claim pension or insurance benefits
  • Get a driver’s license
  • Get a replacement social security card

What’s On A Birth Certificate?

  • Your full name
  • Time and date of birth
  • City or country of birth
  • Parent(s) full name

Some additional information may also be included, such as:

  • Mother’s maiden name, if applicable
  • Birthplaces of your parent(s)
  • Parent(s) address(es), occupation(s), ethnicity
  • Number of children your parent(s) already have

What About A Birth Certificate For A Child?

There are many instances where a birth certificate might become lost, misplaced, or damaged beyond repair. There are also instances in which you might need to order birth certificates for a child or dependent, or a researcher who has a qualified purpose for obtaining birth records. As per USA Today’s guide (4):

  1. Gather and verify necessary information of the child’s birth, such as: full name at birth; place, date and time of birth; full name of birth parents; name at adoption (in some instances.)
  2. Determine and order birth certificate type (long or short form.)
  3. Send in a signed, proper request form(s) with relevant information, relationship to the child, and purpose of request.
  4. Include a valid, government-issued or state-issued ID card.
  5. Include the proper fee for the type being requested.

What Is The Process For An American Child Born Abroad?

To order birth certificate originals or a copy for a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent: (5)

  • The parent should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
  • Once that has been acquired, the parent(s) of a child can apply for a U.S. passport for the child.


  1. Vital Records, USA.GOV: https://www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents#item-36647. 
  2. Report of the panel to evaluate the standard U.S. certificates(Division of Vital Statistics National—Center for Health Statistics, addenda November 2001), 60.
  3. Vital Records, DMV.org: https://www.dmv.org/vital-records/birth-certificates.php. 
  4. How to Get a Copy of a Child’s Birth Certificate, USA TODAY: http://traveltips.usatoday.com/copy-childs-birth-certificate-13276.html. 
  5. Birth of U.S. Citizens Abroad, U.S. Passports & Travel Abroad: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/events-and-records/birth.html.