Acceptable documents when missing birth certificate

Skip to content. Public Education. Maybe yours is tucked in a box or filed for safekeeping. The odds are that you have one: a birth certificate. On any given day, according to the U. Census Bureau, an estimated 10, babies are born in the United States, or one birth every eight seconds.

Most, if not all, of them will be issued birth certificates.


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A birth certificate is a document issued by a government that records the birth of a child for vital statistics, tax, military, and census purposes. The birth certificate is among the first legal documents an individual might acquire. They are so common that we might even overlook their significance.

In the United States, there is no national federal birth registry, as you might see in other nations, such as the United Kingdom. Instead, birth certificates are issued by the states, which are obligated under law to report annual vital statistics data to the federal government. Note that if a baby is born to American parents overseas, the U. Department of State collects that data.

Within each state, the management of birth certificates might be further decentralized, with data collected and certificates issued at the county or municipal level. Birth data is submitted to the state, county, or municipality by parents, doctors, midwives, and hospitals, typically via paper or electronic forms. The state and federal governments use this data to understand population changes, childbirth trends, maternal and fetal health and mortality, new parent demographics, and other trends that inform policymakers.

The documentation of births and other vital statistics e. The idea that a government should also record this vital information is a relatively modern development.

How to Order a Birth Certificate Today | VitalChek Blog

Within this decentralized system, there is not a required standard birth certificate document that states must issue to individuals. The federal government does, however, offer a standard birth certificate application form, the U. Standard Certificate of Live Birth, which states use to collect data about individual births. States are then free to produce their own birth certificate documents for distribution to individuals. The federal government issues guidance to the states about what information should appear on the certificates.

Both the Standard Certificate of Live Birth and the guidelines about state-issued birth certificate documents are updated periodically, per requirements of the Model State Vital Statistics Act Under this framework, with one standard birth certificate application form and no standard birth certificate document, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that there are 14, different birth certificate documents circulating in the United States.


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Standard Certificate of Live Birth application form and a typical state-issued birth certificate document. The United Kingdom was the first country to mandate collection of birth data at the national level in The United States began collecting birth data at the national level in , via the U.

Certain individual states had already been collecting birth data, including Virginia, which began collecting data as a colony in and Massachusetts in , so it became a matter of getting each state to follow suit. The federal government first developed a standard birth certificate application form in , five years after the Census Bureau began collecting data.

The current system of the states collecting data and reporting it to the federal government developed between , when the federal government mandated that states collect and report the data, and , by which time all of the states were participating. Department of Health and Human Services. During World War II and the years after, employers increasingly asked prospective employees to offer proof of their citizenship status.

Federal employment laws for certain industries, such as aircraft manufacturing, already mandated that employers hire citizens, and many Americans did not have any proof of their citizenship status. Many Americans trying to get jobs in the wartime economy expressed frustration at this seemingly bureaucratic hurdle. I have a wife and child and I want a job. During the period —, approximately 43 million Americans, nearly one-third of the working population, filed requests with their states to get a state-certified copy of their birth certificate. If you need a copy fast, ask about expedited service or shipping when you place your order.

If they did, they would have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Department of State. Depending on the country, a vital records office in the nation may also list the birth. In that case, you may have to contact the hospital where you were born. A child born in a foreign country and adopted by a U. The country in which you were born will have issued it.

To get a copy, contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for that country. If you need an authenticated copy and it's not in English, ask the embassy for help to get it translated. If you were adopted from another country by a U.

People often confuse a marriage license with a marriage certificate. A marriage license is the piece of paper that authorizes you to get married. A marriage certificate is the document that proves you are married. Typically, after the ceremony, you, your spouse, and witnesses will sign the license. The person who performs your wedding ceremony will sign and submit the license to a county office. The county will issue your marriage certificate usually within a month.

Most marriage licenses expire within 30 days to a year, depending on the issuing state. If your license expires before you get married, you can apply for a new one.

Replace Your Vital Records

If your license is lost or destroyed after the wedding, before it's submitted to the county, the person who officiated must take action. They should contact the office that issued your license to get a duplicate. For a certified copy of your marriage certificate, contact the vital records office in the state where you were married. You'll find instructions on how to request a copy and information on any fees.

You may need to provide a copy of the death certificate of a spouse or other family member for a variety of legal reasons. Check to see which require a certified copy of the death certificate and which require just a photocopy. You can request a certified copy of a death certificate from the vital records office of the state or territory in which the death occurred. See the instructions for that state or territory for details such as:.

Need a New Passport and Don’t Have an Original Birth Certificate?

You will need to obtain a copy of the U. See Death of an American Abroad for details on obtaining a copy of this report. A divorce decree is an official document from the court that grants the termination of a marriage. It includes specific details of the divorce. A divorce certificate is issued by a state vital records office. You can save time and money by determining which document you need before requesting a copy. Contact the "county clerk's office" or "clerk of the court" for the county or city in which the divorce was granted.

If the divorce occurred in another country and you're in the U. They can tell you how to get a copy of the divorce decree. United States law does not require U.