How to Get a Certified Copy of My Birth Certificate

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A certified birth certificate is a copy of the original that is embossed with an official seal or stamp from the issuing government agency, such as the health department or its vital statistics or records department. Although state laws vary, you can usually order your own birth certificate, your child's or a deceased relative's. Other people may also be able to order a copy, depending on the laws of the issuing state.

Application and Fee Required

To order a certified birth certificate, you must submit your request to the vital records office of the county where the birth occurred. This unit is typically housed within the health department. Although rules vary between states, common requirements include submitting a completed application, either in person, by mail or online, along with proof of identity and fee. The application may need to be signed in front of a notary public. Processing times can vary, from minutes to several weeks, depending on jurisdiction and how you submitted your request.

Some States Provide Informational Copies

If you don't need a certified copy, some states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin make other versions available. Uncertified or informational birth certificates do not contain any official seals and are available to anyone. They are only for informational purposes. In other words, they can't be used to prove identity or date of birth, or for other legal purposes.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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