An official birth certificate is an important legal document that shows where and when you were born and gives proof of your legal name. Official copies of birth certificates are required to prove identity throughout a person's life, such as when enrolling in school, getting a driver's license, obtaining a Social Security card, and confirming citizenship when applying for a job. Every child receives a birth certificate when they are born. If it is lost or stolen, a replacement is available from a state or local vital records office, most of which offer online ordering.
Locate the vital records website of the state where the birth occurred. The National Center for Health Statistics (see Resources) provides links to the websites of each state's vital records office. While some states process their own online replacement birth certificate orders, others use private records processing companies, such as VitalChek.
Find your state's requirements for requesting a replacement birth certificate. Most states require the full name of the person on the certificate, the date of birth, the full names of the mother and father, the requester's relationship to the person named on the certificate, and the city and county where the birth took place. Complete the online form on the website of the records processing company or state vital records office.
Document your identity. States require proof of the requester's identity in the form of a state-issued driver's license, a passport or other official document. Scan the identity documentation on a photo scanner to create a computer file to include with your online form.
Send payment to the vital records office or records processing company. The private company will add an additional amount to the fee required by the state or local vital records office.
- Order a replacement birth certificate as soon as you notice the original is missing. Processing the order can take up to three weeks.
- Since states make special arrangements with private companies to process online vital records requests, use the private records service recommended by the state where you are ordering the replacement birth certificate.
Judith Zwolak has worked in publishing for more than 20 years and has written for articles for construction trade associations, newspapers, and publications in aviation and higher education. She is a graduate of Cornell University.