What is a Certified Birth Certificate?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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A certified birth certificate is a copy of a person's birth certificate bearing the seal of a clerk or recorder to indicate it is genuine. While copies themselves are usually sufficient for many applications and many people store a copy of their birth certificate in a convenient location, for certain activities, a certified birth certificate is required. Usually people need this document to obtain government identification and in some other special circumstances.

Obtaining a certified birth certificate for oneself is usually very easy, depending on the policies at the government office where vital records like birth certificates are stored. Generally, people need to pay a small fee and provide proof of identity. They may need to show up in person or it can be possible to order the certified birth certificate by mail or over the phone.

The clerk will pull the relevant record and make a copy on official paper. In addition, a raised seal will be applied. The clerk will sign the certified birth certificate, indicating that the document is a genuine copy of the records maintained in the archives. Special colors or holograms may be used to make the seal harder to fake. People can request as many certified birth certificates as they need, although frequent repeat requests may arouse suspicion and concerns on the part of vital records personnel.


Obtaining a certified birth certificate for someone else is more difficult. Birth certificates can be used to apply for identification, verify citizenship, and engage in a variety of other activities. Many vital records offices are concerned about the possibility of identity theft using a birth certificate. If a person requests a certificate for someone else, usually evidence must be provided to explain why this is necessary. For example, a parent could request a child's birth certificate, or a caregiver could provide a notarized letter from a client, explaining why the client cannot make a request in person. Some offices refuse to give out birth certificates to anyone other than the person named.

It is advisable to store a certified birth certificate in a safe place to address concerns about identity theft. If the document is lost or stolen, people may want to consider checking their credit report more regularly for signs of suspicious activity, and they can also alert government agencies to the fact that a copy of their birth certificate may be in the hands of someone else. If documentation like a government identification, Social Security Card, or other proof of identification also goes missing, this can be a serious cause for concern.



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