Governments in Egypt, China, Greece, Rome and Persia began compiling vital statistics before the birth of Christ. Beginning in at least 1532, English churches recorded births, marriages and deaths in registers. Virginia was the first U.S. state to require birth registration in 1632. States remain the proprietors of this data. The federal government relies on the states to provide the information.
In 1907, the federal government first proposed the Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations. The Act passed and was effective January 1, 1917. It established “nationwide uniformity in the system of vital statistics, the forms of certificates and reports ... shall include as a minimum the items recommended by the Federal agency responsible for national vital statistics.”
Regulations require the birth certificate's filing in the Office of Vital Statistics within five days after a live birth. Mandatory information includes the child’s name, sex, date of birth, state, city or country of birth, mother’s and father’s name (if known), certificate number and date of filing.
Certified Birth Certificate
The certified birth certificate is the most common. It’s required to register a child for school, sports and to obtain a driver’s license for individuals born after 1963.
A registrar’s raised, embossed, impressed or multicolor seal and signature are present on all certified birth certificates. It also contains the date it was filed with the registrar.
For federal employment and passport purposes, a certified birth certificate is required. Matters such as immigration, Native American Registry and dual citizenship require a certified copy.
A birth abstract is a computer summary of the information related to the birth. Parental information may be unavailable on an abstract.
Most abstracts are unacceptable for passports and other official purposes.
Some states, such as Texas, offer Birth Verification Letters. The letter verifies registered births in the state. It includes the child’s name, date and county of birth and state file number.