A birth certificate may seem like a relatively unimportant document until it becomes an essential one. That happens when it is necessary to prove someone's date of birth, place of birth or status as a United States citizen. Anyone born in Indiana may need a birth certificate to obtain a REAL driver's license, verify employment eligibility or apply for a passport.
There is more than one legal issue that can arise around certificates of birth in Indiana. It's good to get an overview of potential issues in case they turn into personal challenges. All will usually involve the Indiana State Department of Health or a local county health department.
What Is a Certificate of Live Birth?
The Certificate of Live Birth is a form filled out when a baby is born in this country. It affirms both that the child was born and that it was a live birth. This form must be submitted to the state, county or municipality by one of these persons or facilities:
- The newborn’s parents.
- Medical personnel attending the child’s birth.
- The medical center where the child was born.
What Information is Included in the Certificate of Live Birth?
The form requires:
- Child's date of birth.
- Child's name.
- Parents’ names.
- Attending doctor or midwife’s name.
- Name of hospital where the baby was born.
- Name of the person completing the birth record form.
- Baby’s gender at birth.
- Baby's race.
- Baby's weight at birth.
- Any relevant health conditions.
What Is a U.S. Birth Certificate?
Once the Certificate of Live Birth is submitted, the governmental entity (state, county or city) will issue a birth certificate for the child. There is no standard birth certificate form that is used across the country. A United States birth certificate is generally the first important document a person gets in their life. It is issued by a government agency and it officially registers the birth of a child in the United States.
Each state, and in many cases, counties and cities too, can design the birth certificate documents for children born within their jurisdictions. They just have to follow the federal guidelines on the contents that must be included on birth certificates. There are some 14,000 different types of birth certificates in the United States.
How to Register a Birth in Indiana?
Most births that occur in Indiana are registered at the facility of birth using the Indiana Birth Registration System (IBRS). This system collects demographic and medical information about each birth in Indiana. If the birth did not occur at a hospital or a clinic, the process of registering is different for children under one year of age and those over one year.
Parents can register a birth for a child younger than a year old at the local health department where the birth occurred, with proof of residency. Once the child's first birthday has passed, it is necessary to file a delayed registration of birth with the Indiana State Department of Health Vital Records.
What Is an Indiana Birth Certificate?
An Indiana birth certificate is the appropriate United States birth certificate for a person born in Indiana. It is very location specific. While a child is eligible for a U.S. birth certificate no matter where in the country they are born, they are only eligible for an Indiana birth certificate if they were born in the state of Indiana.
An original Indiana birth certificate is issued to the parents after a child is born and the birth has been reported with a certificate of live birth form. It looks much more formal and impressive than the standard certificate of live birth. It is printed on thicker paper and has the name and raised seal of the state, county or municipality that issued it.
The type of seal may vary, but it is an essential part of the certificate. It establishes that the birth certificate is a government-issued, certified document. The seal might be raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored. The document also includes the date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office. This date must be within a year of the person’s birth.
Where to Get an Indiana Birth Certificate?
A child's original birth certificate is sent to the parents in Indiana. But by the time the child needs the certificate to get a REAL driver's license or a passport, it commonly has been lost or misplaced. And, in any event, the person's parents may balk at turning over the original as part of a passport application.
Fortunately, it is not hard to get a copy of one's own birth certificate in Indiana. The Indiana Department of Health Division of Vital Records maintains certified copies of vital records, including birth and death certificates of events that occurred in Indiana. Indiana's Vital Records Division started recording births in 1907.
What Identification Information Is Required?
Not just anybody can ask for an Indiana birth certificate from the Indiana Vital Records Division. That's not just because the document may contain information that the person may not want to divulge to the world; it's also to deter identity theft. But obtaining a copy is not just limited to the person whose birth is recorded in the certificate. Others may also be eligible.
Essentially, birth records in Indiana are provided only on a need-to-know basis. Applicants for an Indiana birth certificate must prove their identity with these documents:
- Primary identification document like a driver license, ID card, U.S. passport, or military or work ID.
- Two secondary identification documents like a verification of employment, a voter registration card or a vehicle registration certificate.
- Two Amish identification documents like school records, Social Security card, marriage certificate or a non-photo ID.
They must also show immediate direct kinship (parent, grandparent or spouse) to the person on the certificate or a direct interest in the subject of the report. This could be a financial or legal interest.
What Types of Certificates Are Available?
Anyone ordering a copy of an Indiana birth certificate must choose between two certified birth certificate options: standard/short form or long form birth record.
A long-form certificate, or "official" certificate, typically has all of the information that the original birth certificate contains. A short-form birth certificate includes most of the information that is found on a long-form birth certificate, but has fewer details about the parents and doesn't contain their signatures.
Which type of certificate to get depends on the purpose. Anyone starting an adoption process, applying for dual citizenship, or applying for a U.S. passport will need the long-form Indiana certificate.
How to Get a Copy of an Indiana Birth Certificate?
Indiana offers not one, not two, but four different ways to order a birth certificate through:
- The local health department.
- ISDH Vital Records online.
- ISDH Vital Records by phone.
- ISDH Vital Records by mail.
To obtain a copy of a birth certificate from the local health department, go to the one in the county where the birth occurred. Visit the department during business hours and expect to pay a fee.
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Division of Vital Records offers three ways to apply for a copy of a birth certificate. It is possible to do this online and by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The toll-free number is 866-601-0891. Finally, it's also possible to order the certificate by mail using Form 49607. Pay with a check or money order.
How to Amend a Birth Certificate?
Typos occur, even in birth certificates. Anyone noting a simple error in their own birth certificate or that of their minor child can correct or amend it if the certificate is not at issue in a court case. These might include minor spelling changes, corrections of the day of birth, or a parent’s place of birth. Documentary evidence should verify the requested changes.
If the father's name was not included on the birth certificate, paternity affidavits can be filed at the local health department in the jurisdiction where the birth occurred. Indiana law contains a presumption that a woman's husband is the father of her child. But if the mother and the father of the child are not married at the time of the birth, it is necessary to establish paternity for the father's name to be included on the birth certificate.
Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?
Establishing paternity is important in Indiana because it ensures that the child's biological father will be recognized under the law as having a parental relationship with the child. Even if the couple lives together as a family with the child, the father of a child will have no rights to custody or visitation without establishing paternity. It will also allow the child to inherit from the father or receive his Social Security benefits.
In Indiana, a child can take their mother's last name only if their father has not established paternity. If the father is listed on the child's birth certificate, the parents can give the child either person's last name or a combination of the two.
Establishing Paternity to Ensure Parental Rights
Indiana law has a presumption that a man is a child's legal father if he is married to his wife when she gives birth or the couple has divorced no more than 300 days before the birth of the child.
If the couple is not married and this presumption does not apply, legal paternity in Indiana must be established by a paternity affidavit or a court order.
A paternity affidavit is the easiest way for an unmarried couple to establish paternity in Indiana. It can be completed at the hospital within 72 hours of the birth. After that time, it can be completed at the local health department at any time while the child is a minor. Both parents sign the affidavit in front of a notary. The affidavit, once signed and filed, allows the addition of the father’s name to the birth record.
If the Parents Are Not in Agreement
If the mother and father have an antagonistic relationship at the time of the birth, the mother of a child may not be willing to sign a paternity affidavit. Or the father may be unwilling to commit himself by signing. In either case, one of the parents must start a paternity action to ask the court to establish paternity.
Either parent may file an action in an appropriate Indiana court seeking determination of paternity. The court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the parties may:
- Agree to paternity without the benefit of genetic testing.
- Request genetic testing by an accredited laboritry to determine paternity.
- Offer evidence to the court and ask for a court ruling as to whether or not paternity should be established.
If genetic testing (DNA testing) is ordered by the court, the parties will be tested, and the court will await the results.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.