States keep birth records of anyone born in a hospital, and having a birth certificate is essential for obtaining a driver's license, passport and other identification documents. The fees and requirements for obtaining vital records vary slightly by state, but, regardless of where you live, there are some universal guidelines to remember if you're trying to replace a lost birth certificate, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In most states, birth documents issued by hospitals and not state or county offices are not considered official records and probably could not be accepted for identification purposes.
The Required Basic Information
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the following information should be included in a request for birth records, no matter what state you live in:
- Full name of person whose record is requested.
- Parents' names, including maiden name of mother.
- Month, day and year of birth.
- Place of birth (city or town, county, and state; and name of hospital, if known).
- Purpose for which copy is needed.
- Relationship to the person whose record you are requesting, even if it is yourself.
- Daytime telephone number with area code.
Requirements Vary by State
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, some requirements vary by state. In New York, for example, the fee for a certified copy of your birth certificate is $15 plus processing fees, and can be completed online, in person or via mail. In California, the fee is $25, must be mailed, and the applicant is required to provide a notarized sworn statement. In Texas, applications can be completed in person, online, on the phone or in the mail for a $23 transaction. For a breakdown of different requirements by state, visit the CDC website for a list of Vital Records by state.
In some states, Homeland Security measures in recent years have prompted state Department of Motor Vehicles and county clerk's office personnel to heighten their scrutiny of birth certificates when applicants apply for driver's licenses or passports. Hospital-issued "birth certificates" are also increasingly rejected, forcing applicants to contact the state vital statistics office for certified copies of their official birth certificate.
Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.