Your child's birth certificate is one of the most important vital records he will have in his lifetime. Birth certificates prove that your child is a natural-born U.S. citizen, and usually are required to obtain Social Security numbers and cards, government-issued identification and passports, driver's licenses, and marriage certificates. Many schools also will require a copy of your child's birth certificate upon enrollment. Obtain a birth certificate as soon as possible after your child is born to ease any future stress associated with other vital records and school documentation requirements.The procedure for obtaining your child's birth certificate varies slightly by county and state, but most areas follow the same general process.
Order Your Child's Birth Certificate
Obtain contact information for the Department of Vital Records in the state and county where your child was born. (The Department of Vital Records might operate under a different name depending on your state, but most are associated with your state's Department of Health or Social Services.) Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Vital Records reference page (see Resources) for vital records information by state.
Choose a credit or debit card to serve as identification and to make payment for the birth certificate fee(s) if your state allows you to order your child's birth certificate online. Visit your state's vital records website and follow the links to order a birth certificate.
Fill out the information required by your state for the application for a certified copy of a birth certificate, enter your payment information and submit your request. Your child's birth certificate should arrive by mail within the time frame specified by your child's home state upon completion of the ordering process.
Call or visit the vital records office in your child's home state and county if you want to obtain the birth certificate by mail or in person. The clerk can instruct you on how to obtain an application for a certified copy of a birth certificate, and determine the fees associated with ordering the birth certificate. You also might be able to download and print the application from the vital records office website, depending on your state.
Complete the printed application for a certified copy of a birth certificate in full. Be sure to include all of the required information, including both parents' full legal names, your child's full legal name, date of birth and sex, and your child's city, county and state of birth.
Include a copy of your government-issued identification (or any other form of personal identification that your state allows) and the required fee for obtaining the birth certificate with the application. Most states will accept personal checks or money orders, but only will accept cash payments if you are obtaining the birth certificate in person at the vital records office.
Wait for the birth certificate to arrive by mail. If you visit the vital records office in person, you most likely will receive your child's birth certificate during the same visit. Otherwise, your wait time could be between 10 days to six weeks, depending on your state. Be sure to inform the vital records clerk if you need the birth certificate within a certain time frame.
Keep your child's birth certificate in a safe place, and only allow people you trust to have access to it.
Many states will allow you to request a Social Security number and card for your child the first time you order your child's birth certificate. If you want to obtain a Social Security number for your child, ask the clerk at the vital records office for assistance.
Order multiple copies of your child's birth certificate, and keep each one in a different place (e.g., keep one copy at home, one in a safe deposit box and one at the child's grandparents' house).
Many states will print wallet-sized copies of certified birth certificates. If you choose to order the wallet-sized certificate, it is advisable to have one standard copy of a birth certificate as well, as some entities will not accept the wallet-sized certificates.
- birth marriage and death image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com