How to Get Your Birth Certificate for Free

By Contributing Writer - Updated June 15, 2017
Happy kid having fun with her father at home

From birth, we become part of the U.S. record system. Along with a Social Security number, we are given a birth certificate. There are a few times in life when a birth certificate is necessary, such as getting a driver’s license, a Social Security card or other services pertaining to identity. Some people are fortunate to have a copy, but if you do not have one, you will have to get one. There is no truly cost-free way of obtaining your birth certificate, but you can get it for relatively cheap and nearly hassle free.

Why Birth Certificates are Important

You might be wondering why you need a copy of your birth certificate. In most cases, you need your birth certificate to serve as an official document of proof of your age and identity. You may be asked to provide your birth certificate if you are applying for a new passport, enrolling in governmental benefits, joining the military, claiming insurance benefits, getting a replacement for your Social Security card and more.

For Citizens Born in the US

If you were born in the U.S., it’s relatively easy and cost effective to get a copy of your birth certificate. Start by going to the CDC’s website for vital health records. This site lists the offices to write to depending on the state you were born in to obtain a birth certificate. Click on the state where you were born, and the address of the office will appear. You can go to the office to request a birth certificate or write to the office and ask them to mail one to you. The cost and procedures will vary by state. For example, if you were born in Massachusetts, it will cost more to get your birth certificate than if you were born in Florida.

For Non-Military Citizens Born Abroad

If you are a U.S. citizen but was born outside of the states, the process for you to get a copy of your birth certificate varies slightly. Your birth certificate, called a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) is available at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate office. Alternatively, you might be able to find a copy of your birth certificate at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) or the embassy in the country of your birth. When you request a copy of your birth certificate, you’ll need to submit a notarized request with the following information: your full name, your date and place of birth, your parent’s names, your mailing address and a $50 check.

For Citizens Born on a Military Base

If your parents were in the military when you were born, the process to get your birth certificate is similar to citizens born abroad. Most of the time, you will be issued a CRBA at birth. If for some reason you were not issued a CRBA, you can contact the hospital you were born at, the military base operator or the public affairs office for the military branch in question. They should be able to help you obtain a copy of your birth certificate.

For Children Born Abroad but Adopted by a US Citizen

If you were born elsewhere and was adopted by American parents, you will need to contact the country of your birth to obtain a copy of your birth certificate. This is because only the country of your birth and citizenship documents your birth certificate.

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