If you need to get a copy of a birth certificate, you will first need some information regarding the birth. Typically, you will need the name of the person on the birth certificate, as well as the name of the father and the maiden name of the mother. In addition, you will need to know the date of the birth, as well as the city and region or state where the birth occurred. Once you have this information, you will need to submit it to the appropriate records department within the region that the birth occurred, along with your request for the copy. There is typically a charge for this service that varies by location.
In the United States, birth certificates are not handled by the federal government, but rather by the state in which the birth occurred. Each state has a Department of Vital Statistics or a similar central department that handles documentation of birth and death. You can obtain the contact information for these departments through local government offices, or complete listings are usually available online.
Before sending out a copy of a birth certificate, the regulating office will typically require payment. Most government offices have websites where you can make payment using a credit card or electronic check. Most of the time, these payments can also be made by phone. If you need to mail in the payment, you can send in a check or money order. Be sure and enclose all relevant information, such as the name on the birth certificate, parents' full names, and the city and state where the birth took place.
A copy of a birth certificate is considered an essential document, and is often required as proof of identity. To obtain various other regulated licenses, a copy of a birth certificate is often required. You may need your birth certificate to get married, obtain a license to drive, and in some cases, to gain employment. A copy of a birth certificate is usually needed to apply for a passport or government identification such as a Social Security number.
Once you have received the certificate, it is a good idea to protect it from damage. Many people enclose the certificate in laminated folders designed to protect documents from damage caused by moisture or frequent handling. In addition, it is probably a good idea to keep the birth certificate and other important documents in a fire-resistant box. Many people take the added precaution of renting a safety deposit box to store important paperwork. Safety deposit boxes can be rented at most banks.