What Do You Need to Get a Birth Certificate?

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Anyone born in the United States is granted a birth certificate that proves paternity and maternity, citizenship, and the location and time of birth. To get a certified copy of a birth certificate, you'll need to provide certain information and the specific amount of money needed to pay the fees. The fee is based on where you live and the agency or business you go through to get a copy of the certificate.


Birth certificates are records of a person's vital statistics and are stored either physically or electronically by the state, city, town, or village office of the location where the person was born.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you have the following information available when you make your request: the full name of the person, the location of birth (hospital or home, and city or town), gender, full name of the mother and father (if known), the mother's maiden name, date of birth, the reason the certified copy is needed, your relationship to the person on the birth certificate, and a phone number where you can be reached.

Use the CDC's vital records database to determine the fee and any additional information needed by the individual office before sending your request.

Fees and Other Materials

Depending on the state where the birth certificate originated, you may need to provide additional materials such as your driver's license, another picture identification, or a notarized request. Fees vary, but in most cases it is much cheaper to write to the specified office for a birth certificate than it is to use a vital statistics service. Check for any payment restrictions. For example, according to the CDC's website, the Arizona Office of Vital Records only accepts cashier checks or money orders for birth certificate requests.


If the idea of submitting all that information gives you a headache, have no fear. Plenty of businesses specialize in contacting state and local offices for birth records. These services can save you a lot of time and hassle in submitting paperwork, but they will charge a fee for their efforts. And while they handle a great deal of the paperwork, you will still need to provide the identifying documents before the service can process your request.