How To Request a Certified Copy of a Birth Certificate

Family Papers
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A birth certificate is an official government document issued to record a person's birth. A standard birth certificate includes basic identifying data such as name, gender, date of birth, place of birth, and parent's information (usually names and dates of birth). In the United States,  birth certificates are generally issued by the Vital Records Office within each state and are often processed by the municipality where the birth took place.


Birth certificates are an important and necessary document to have on hand and should be kept in safe place. However, sometimes this vital piece of paper becomes lost, soiled, stolen or destroyed. If you, or an immediate family member, are in this predicament, it's imperative that you acquire a replacement copy as soon as possible.

Why the Rush?

Most states require a certified copy of a birth certificate from anyone applying to change a driver's license.

When applying for a passport, you'll save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary stress during the application process by providing a copy of your birth certificate

Most public schools require a certified copy of the child's birth certificate upon enrollment.

You cannot enroll a family member into DEERS (database of people who are eligible to receive military benefits) without producing a copy of his or her birth certificate.

Requesting a Birth Certificate

The criteria for acquiring a birth certificate varies from state to state.

Some accept phone, mail, online, and walk-in requests. Others release copies only if the request is made in person or by mail. In addition, many states have specific forms that must be included with the request.

To obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate, visit the National Center for Health Statistics roster of vital records contact information, alphabetically arranged by state.

The continually updated list will tell you how to reach each vital records office by email, phone or regular mail.

Storing a Birth Certificate Safely

An original, or copy, of a birth certificate, should always be stored safely, and in a place where you can easily find it. It can be wise to invest in a home safe or a safe deposit box. In addition to birth certificates, this is a smart place to store other important documents, such as marriage certificates and wills. A home safe or safe deposit box will protect the originals from light, heat, natural elements, and keep them safe from burglars. It can also be wise to make extra copies and keep them in a more accessible location in your home. It is not recommended that birth certificates and other important documents be stored in basements or attics, as these locations have more temperature and humidity fluctuations that can more easily damage paper certificates and important documents. Safe storage will help to avoid needing to request duplicates of a birth certificate or other government document.