You'll need a certified copy of your birth certificate to register for school, or to travel anywhere outside the U.S. that requires this legal document. There are "Certified" and "Non-Certified" copies of birth certificates. "Certified" copies are the type that can be used for legal purposes. They have a raised seal and a signature to show they are genuine. "Non-Certified" copies are for informational purposes only.
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Birth certificates can be obtained in the city and state in which you were born. If you don't know where you were born, ask your parents or another family member. Or, look in a family genealogy to find out in what city and state you were born.
Try to find the original copy of your birth certificate. It will list the information you need to get a new, certified copy. Your old certificate will most likely not be certified, which makes it an informational document only.
Locate the phone number for the Department of Health in that city. Call Directory Assistance or log onto the Internet and perform a search.
Ask the Health Department what information you need to send in, or take with you, to get your certified birth certificate. You'll probably need identification such as a current driver's license and your Social Security card.
Send via the U.S. post office the applicable information along with the required fee. Or, drive to the location of the Health Department to get a certified copy of your birth certificate in person.
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You can visit the National Center for Health Statistics website. Click on the state in which you were born, not where you currently reside.
The listing will give you the cost of the copy of your birth certificate and the address for the department of health in that state. It will also tell you what information you need to include with your request, which is most often a valid picture ID.
Tips and warnings
- To get a certified copy of your birth certificate, you'll need to know your name at birth and the date of your birth. You'll probably also need to know your parents' full names, as well as your mother's maiden name.
- You can usually pay your fee with a personal check or money order. You can pay with cash if you pick up your birth certificate in person.
- As of January, 2007, passports are required for US citizens travelling between the US and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda by air. In January, 2008, the requirement will extend to include those travelling by land or sea.
- Each Health Department has records that date back to a certain year. If you were born earlier than they have records for, then you'll need to contact the Probate Court in that city.
- You must obtain your own certified copy of a birth certificate. If you have a legal representative, he or she may obtain it.