Obtaining a copy of your own birth certificate may be fairly easy to accomplish. If you need a copy of your parent's birth certificate, obtaining that may be a bit more challenging. However, most states provide clear, easy-to-follow instructions for obtaining a certified or authorized copy of this document. State requirements vary, so the information you'll have to provide depends on where your parent was born.
Obtaining a Copy
Visit the website of the office that handles vital records for the state in which your parent was born (see Resources below). It may be called the Department of Vital Statistics, Department of Vital Records, or Department of Health.
Determine what the vital records office requires for requesting birth certificates. Many provide certified copies to immediate family members. However, others will not do so without a court order.
Obtain the information you'll need to order your parent's birth certificate. Generally, you'll need to provide her date, city and county of birth as well as her full name. If she has married or changed her name, use the name that would have appeared on her birth certificate. You may also need to provide your grandparents' full names.
Order a certified copy of your parent's birth certificate online, through the mail or in person at the vital records office. If you want to order online, you can complete the birth certificate form provided on the office's website. If you want to order by mail, you'll usually have to download and print the form from the same website.
Provide a clear copy of a government-issued photo identification (ID) card if photo ID is required. You may use your driver's license or a non-driver's license issued by your state, for example. Place this in the envelope with your mailed-in birth certificate request form or take it with you if decide to apply in person. You may not need a copy of a photo ID if you apply online, and some vital records offices accept other forms of ID as well.
Pay a fee for each certified birth certificate you need. Depending on how you place your order and the state from which you request it, you may pay shipping and processing fees as well.
- Your photo ID must be valid. If it is expired, the vital records office may deny your request for a copy of the birth certificate. Likewise, your ID should list your full name as you state it on your application and your current address.
- If you order online, you may have to provide an Internet signature swearing that you are the son or daughter of the person for whom you are requesting a birth certificate.
- If you were adopted, you may present adoption records as proof of your relationship to your adoptive parent.
- If you're seeking a certified copy of a step-parent's birth certificate, you may have to prove that you are related to him before your request can be approved. You may do this by submitting a copy of your step-parent's marriage to your legal parent or other documentation specified by the vital records office.
- If you are asked to provide your grandmother's full name, give her maiden name. This is an identifier vital records offices use in retrieving the right birth certificate.