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When Would I Need a Birth Certificate?

A birth certificate is usually required when applying for a passport.
Replacement fees are charged when lost or stolen birth certificates are reissued.
Article Details
  • Written By: S. McNesby
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Individuals need a birth certificate as a proof of identity, age, and citizenship. A birth certificate or official copy often is required for admission to school, to receive a driver's license, or to apply for a passport. In some countries, like the United States, a birth certificate is necessary to obtain a Social Security number and card, essential to work or earn income.

Most places offer the option of applying for a birth certificate right in the hospital when a baby is born. Since that infant will need a birth certificate throughout his life, applying right away is the easiest way to get an official certificate. A birth certificate is usually an individual's first form of vital record, and will be useful throughout that individual's life. Other vital records include marriage, divorce, and death certificates. No matter where an individual currently resides, the place where that person was born will keep the birth certificate on file.

If a birth certificate is lost or stolen, the vital records office in an individual's place of birth will be able to supply a certified copy, provided the right forms are filed. Most places allow a birth certificate form to be ordered in person, online, or by mail. There is usually a replacement fee for birth certificate copies.

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You may need a birth certificate if you are tracking your family history or doing research for another purpose. Offices of vital records maintain important information for residents; this information can be useful if you are searching for an individual. A search for birth certificate records may be done in person, online, or via the mail, depending on the individual's state of residence. Since there are many different reasons you could need a birth certificate, it is a good idea to keep your birth certificate and any other vital records in a secure place. Replacing a lost birth certificate can take up to six weeks, so making sure that your records are safe and intact will help the next time you need a birth certificate.

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Discuss this Article

MrsPramm
Post 3

@browncoat - It depends on the country you're in I suppose as to how useful your birth certificate will be. In most cases you can't get a passport without a birth certificate and sometimes you need the birth certificates of your parents or grandparents as well.

Mine is actually fairly tattered but I know if I needed to get another copy it would be easy enough.

browncoat
Post 2

@irontoenail - You could also scan in a copy and send it to yourself in your email (and maybe to your parents as well) so that there are other copies in existence. But do remember that a birth certificate is rarely going to be taken as proof of anything, especially when you are overseas. You usually can't use it as, for example, proof of your age or citizenship, because they are too easy to fake. That's the whole point of having a passport.

It can be used in emergencies though and sometimes it can just be used as a little bit of extra proof. I'm a dual citizen and I once forgot to keep out the right passport when entering one of the countries (I checked it instead) and so had no proof that I was a citizen of that country except my accent and my birth certificate. Technically they weren't supposed to let me in but they did anyway, supposedly on a visa, but in reality I never heard back from them about it.

irontoenail
Post 1

I always photocopy my birth certificate and keep the copy in a hidden pocket separate from my other valuables when I'm traveling, along with a photocopy of my passport, just in case I need them.

I've never actually had to use either of them, but I have had my wallet stolen while traveling, and I've lost bags at the airport, so it's conceivable that I could be unfortunate enough to lose my passport one day and need backups to prove my identity.

Don't bring your actual birth certificate with you though, as you need to keep something at home for the same reason.

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