How to Register a Birth Certificate in California

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There's a short time frame for registering the birth of a new baby in the state of California. Doctors, nurses or parents must do the deed within 10 days of the big event. This isn't a difficult task; it simply requires that a birth certificate form be filled out and filed with the local health department. The procedure for late registration is quite a bit more complicated. It's a good idea to figure out the details of the California procedure early to make certain to get it right the first time.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Under California law, it isn't difficult to register a birth certificate. A doctor, nurse, midwife or parent must fill out the California birth certificate form and send it to the local health department.

Birthing in a Hospital

Not every mother chooses to have their baby in a California hospital, but those that do won't have to worry about certifying the birth or filing a birth certificate. The attending doctor will fill in the certificate paperwork and a member of the hospital staff will mail that birth certificate and all required paperwork to the health department who forwards it to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Vital Records for registration.

The mother, or sometimes both parents, will be asked to sign the original birth certificate. That's a good time to read it carefully and correct any errors. It is not possible to change original birth certificates once they are registered. Any amendments that have to be made will be attached as a separate page to the original. These may take weeks or even months to be processed.

Birthing at Home

When parents decide to have the child at home or at another location outside of a hospital or a clinic in California, additional forms are required, and the parents may need to take an active role in getting the certificate filled out and registered. The forms can be found in the packet of forms for Out-of-Hospital Births.

The medical person attending the birth must fill out the worksheet documents and take them to the local registrar’s office where the staff will prepare the birth certificate and generate the birth certification page. The doctor or midwife signs the birth certification page as the attendant and must be prepared to show valid government-issued photo identification and a current professional license number. If the birth was not attended by a licensed individual, the parents must register the birth themselves.

Additional Documents for Out-of-Hospital Births

For out-of-hospital births, the child's parents must provide a variety of documents. These include documents proving their identity, evidence of the pregnancy, and proof of the California county where the birth occurred. If the parents are not married or in a State-Registered Domestic Partnership, the non-birthing parent will only be listed on the birth certificate if both parents sign a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage before the birth certificate is registered. At the same time as the parents sign the birth certificate, they can check the box on the application form to request that a Social Security number be assigned for the child.

In some cases, the parents must go to the health department (the local registrar's office) with the newborn baby to prove that a live birth took place. After all forms are filed and accepted, the Department of Public Health registers the birth certificate.

Delayed Registration of Birth

If the birth of the child is not registered within one year, the parents will have to file a packet of forms for delayed registration. These birth record forms are much more extensive and include:

  • Form VS 85.
  • Parentage requirement.
  • Documentary evidence.
  • Notarized sworn statement.
  • $23 processing fee for the delayed registration.

Replacing a Birth Certificate

A replacement of a California birth certificate can be obtained from Vital Records for a small fee. It can be ordered in person or by regular mail, with a processing time of between seven and 10 weeks from when Vital Records receives the request form.

It can also be ordered online through an independent, third-party company, at www.VitalChek.com, with a processing fee of $25 for online orders in addition to the $25 fee charged by the state, payable by credit card. These fees are subject to change.

A certified copy of a birth certificate can only be ordered by the person named in the certificate, their parents and certain other individuals. Those not eligible to receive a certified copy can request an informational copy.