Every jurisdiction, usually states but sometimes municipalities, maintains a record of all births for the purposes of vital statistics. Counties generally hold these documents under the auspices of state law. Birth certificates are individual documents that comprise a record and a certified copy can be obtained at any given time by the holder of the document. The original remains on record in the county office.
What information appears on a birth certificate?
Although there is no official form for birth certificates, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics maintains a standardized form that is recommended for use by the states.
What is a short form?
A short form certificate confirms the existence of the original or “long form” document. Select information from the birth certificate is on this document and this information is stored electronically for easy access. Some may prefer to use the short form certificate as proof of birth, but the parent’s names many not appear which may be necessary for certain government documents and services such as applying for a passport.
What is not my birth certificate?
Souvenir birth certificates, issued by the hospital where the baby was delivered are not legal documents. You can recognize these documents as it typically has the footprints of the newborn baby imprinted on it. You should never contact the hospital for a replacement birth certificate. Even if you receive another souvenir certificate, it is next to useless.
Where do I go to replace my birth certificate?
The process will vary from state to state, but generally speaking, the country clerk will have the birth certificates on record at the Clerk’s office. You may not need to visit the county clerk or register as many of these offices have procedures by which an individual can mail a request to the office, with payment via a check and requisite documents completed.
In some populous counties, such as Nassau County, New York, the individual municipalities and villages will have their own clerks so an individual born in Nassau would contact the local clerk rather than the country clerk. The county does maintain records prior to 1935, before the responsibility was regulated to the counties, so those seeking a certificate before that time should contact the county clerk if such a split is present. In less dense counties, such as Lincoln County, North Carolina, the record is available through the register of deeds and any individual that fills out a request form, presents an ID and $10 per copy requested can obtain a certified copy of a birth, death or marriage certificate.
Additionally, you can obtain a copy of your birth certificate directly from the state. In New York State for example, non-New York City residents can obtain a vital record from the New York State Department of Health by writing to the provided address, paying a fee of $30 per copy (via check) ad providing government issued photo identification.