Being a military dependent comes with more than its fair share of hardships and endurance trials, which is why the United States Department of Veterans Affairs contributes to the wellbeing of military families with benefits like education and training opportunities, health care, employment services, life insurance, home loans and more. If you're a military dependent who has lost your birth certificate, though, you won't find any particular perks or benefits to help you track down a new document – the process works just the same as for any U.S. citizen. And it's a process you might just have to dive into if you want to get a driver's license, get married or a grab a passport any time in the near future.
Get a Replacement Birth Certificate
For a U.S. citizen, the process of replacing your birth certificate is fairly straightforward, if a little old-fashioned. The most common method for nabbing a new certificate is by contacting the vital records office in the state where you were born.
Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes the process pretty easy – just hop over to its "Where to Write for Vital Records" page online. Here you'll find a list of every state in the union; just click on the state of your birth for a full breakdown of application details and fees.
Oftentimes, you'll be referred to a website for the state's vital records department, where you can download and print an application for obtaining a new birth certificate. The site also lists phone numbers for the vital records offices, which are a good idea to use if you have questions about the application form or need to expedite your replacement. Typically, non-expedited birth certificate replacement copies cost about $15 to $25, depending on the state.
You'll find addresses for all the local vital statistics office listed, too. Visiting county offices in-person is sometimes an option and, in some cases, you may be able to have a replacement birth certificate printed when you walk in.
Ordering Birth Certificates Abroad
For babies born abroad, the birth certificate replacement process is similar. If your American parents were on the up-and-up when you came into the world, they registered your birth with the foreign country's U.S. embassy or consulate and received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. In this case, you'll need to contact that embassy or consulate and follow its instructions to get a replacement copy.
If you were born abroad to a family in the military, birth certificate replacement may be a little more complicated – especially if you were born on a military base overseas. In this case, and in other cases in which you weren't registered with the local U.S. embassy upon birth, your best bet is to contact the hospital at which you were born, the base operator, or the public affairs office for the military branch in question.
Read More: How to Read a Birth Certificate
The Commercial Option
If you'd rather keep your birth certificate replacement process entirely online, VitalChek is recommended by various state vital records departments and other government agencies. The online birth certificate ordering process takes about 10 minutes, requiring you to enter basic identifying info and details about your birth. Once the application is completed, it costs about $19 per copy plus a $7 VitalChek processing and shipping, as of 2019 prices. When ordered through an authorized service such as this, it typically takes about one to three business days to process the birth certificate for shipping.
For the most part, all you need to replace your lost birth certificate is a trip or a letter to your state's vital records office.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Spouses, Dependents and Survivors
- USA.gov: Replace Your Vital Records
- Minnesota Department of Health: Birth Certificates
- VitalChek: Birth Certificates
- VitalChek: Seven Instances When You'll Need a Birth Certificate
- VitalCheck: The Quickest Way to Obtain a Birth Certificate
- Alabama Public Health: Birth Certificates
As a freelance writer and small business owner with a decade of experience, Dan has contributed legal- and finance-oriented content to diverse sources including Chron, Fortune, Zacks.com, Motley Fool and MSN Money, among others.