What Is the Difference Between Certified & Official Birth Certificates?

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If you need to prove where you were born, the identify of your parents or your exact age, your official birth certificate is the place to start. However, copies of documents can be altered. When correct information is essential, a business or agency may request that you provide a certified copy.

Official Records

A birth certificate is a record made at the time of a birth, usually in a hospital setting, and filed with your state vital records office. It constitutes an official record of your birth, since it is made at a time and in a form specified by state law.

Certified Documents

A certified copy of your birth certificate is a copy made by the state agency charged with storing the documents. Agency registrars stamp, emboss or sign the copy to indicate that it is a true and correct copy of the original document in their records. Certified copies are generally required for passport applications.

Read More: How to Certify Copies of Documents


About the Author

Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.

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