How to Get a Free Copy of a Birth Certificate in Pennsylvania

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To acquire a birth certificate in Pennsylvania, you must be the named person on the birth certificate or an immediate family member, legal guardian, attorney or legal representative. There are several ways to acquire a copy of your birth certificate via online, mail or in person in Pennsylvania. In most cases, you will need to pay a fee to get a copy of your birth certificate.

Obtaining a Birth Certificate for Free

The hospital: While not an actual birth certificate, the hospital where the birth took place may be able to provide a record of the birth. Find the telephone number for the hospital of your birth, and call the hospital. Speak to the customer service operator to find out whom you need to speak with to obtain documentation regarding the birth.

Speak to the person (usually someone in records) about obtaining a record of your birth. Supply the representative with your birth name, your parents' name and your date of birth. It might take a few days to a few weeks for the records department to find your information. Once the information is found, you might be required to personally pick up your information after you provide a valid government photo identification card.

A Photocopy: Photocopy your original birth certificate. If you have the original birth certificate you can make a copy of the certificate. Many legal uses require a certified copy of a birth certificate, but a photocopy can be used for informational purposes.

Ask a Relative: Ask your parents or guardians whether they have your original birth certificate. Many parents and guardians keep birth records in a safe-deposit box or a file cabinet.

Members of the Armed Forces: You may be able to get a free copy of your birth certificate, your spouse or your child from Pennsylvania's Department of Health if any of you served or currently serve in the Armed Forces. For any other relatives, there is a fee.

Read More: How to Get Your Birth Certificate for Free

Obtaining Your Birth Certificate for a Fee

Online: The state of Pennsylvania recognizes VitalCheck as its only online vendor. You can order a copy anytime, with any major credit card and a valid government ID. The cost is $30 and it takes no more than 10 minutes to order a certified copy.

You can also order a copy of a birth certificate directly from the Pennsylvania Department of Health in person or by mail for $20.

In Person: To order in person, you will need to print the Application for Birth Certificate order form from the Pennsylvania Department of Health website, fill it out and bring it to a Pennsylvania Vital Records branch office. When you go into the office, bring a valid ID and a check or money order. Processing times will vary depending on the particular office's processing times.

Over the Phone: You can also order a certified copy of your birth certificate over the phone. All you need is a valid ID, certificate information on hand and a valid credit card. To order over the phone, call 866-712-8238. Note that not all birth certificate requests can be handled via the phone.

Through the Mail: To order via the mail, you will need to download the order form, fill it out, print it and mail it to the processing office. Remember that the processing office will only accept check or money order, so do not send in cash. You will also need to send in a photocopy of your ID and a valid email address. Orders through the mail may take up to 30 days to be processed.

Again, the fee may be waived if the person applying is a member of the armed forces or is related to one. You can access the birth certificate application and all of the information on how to order one online, in person or by mail via Pennsylvania's Application for a Birth Certificate website.