For many people, birth certificates are either tightly stowed away somewhere in mom’s basement or are a document we saw once 15 years ago – and haven’t since.
The last time a birth certificate may have been truly relevant was for college admissions, but there are several other things birth certificates are needed for as you age, including:
- Appling for a passport or government benefits
- Enrolling in school
- Join the military
- Claim pension or insurance benefits
- Getting married in some states
If it’s been more than a while since you last saw your birth certificate, here are the steps you can take to get a new one.
If you were born in the United States, you will need to contact the vital records office in the state or territory you were born in to get a copy of your birth certificate. You’ll need to follow your state’s rules for requesting a copy and pay certain fees. If you need a copy in a rush, ask about expedited service or shipping when you place your order.
The first stop is the National Center For Health Statistics’ map for Vital Record Offices, which can be found here. Simply click on your state and from there you’ll be directed on how to contact your particular country or area vital record office for an official copy. Fees are usually $20-30, and you will likely be asked to provide government-issued photo identification as well.
For anyone who was born to American parents abroad, the birth should have registered with the country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. If that was done, mom and dad would have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. You can get a copy of this report from the U.S. Department of State, but it needs to come from Washington D.C. Depending on the country you were born in, a vital records office in the country may also list the birth.
If the State Department can not locate your CRBA and you were born on a military base abroad, your parents might not have registered your birth with the U.S. embassy. In this case, you will most likely have to contact the hospital where you were born.
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