It happens. You lost your birth certificate and need a new copy. But don’t worry, the process of getting a replacement copy of your birth certificate is pretty easy. A “certified copy” is a duplicate of your original birth certificate issued by the state where you were born. 

This post will cover everything you need to know.

What’s a birth certificate?

Your birth certificate is an important (arguably your most important) personal identity document. It is a legal document that shows information such as your name at birth, your parents’ names, sex, date of birth, birthplace, etc. If you were born in the United States, a birth certificate establishes that you are officially a U.S. citizen. 

Why do I need a birth certificate?

A birth certificate is most people’s only way to directly link to being a U.S. citizen. In fact, you need a birth certificate to:

  • Apply for a new or replacement social security card
  • Apply for a driver’s license
  • Apply for a passport
  • Apply for government benefits 
  • Enroll in school
  • Join the Military 
  • Claim employment pension benefits
  • Claim insurance benefits

Now you can see why having yours is so important.

Who can apply for a certified copy of a birth certificate?

Every state is different but the people who are allowed to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate are:

  1. The subject of the record (you)
  2. A spouse
  3. A family member such as a parent, child, or grandchild
  4. A legal guardian
  5. A custodian or power of attorney
  6. An attorney
  7. An adoption agency

How long does it take to get a certified copy of your birth certificate?

Again, it depends on the state but most state vital records offices can issue you a new birth certificate in 1-3 weeks. If you need a birth certificate quickly, make your request in person at your nearest vital records office or online with your state’s vital records office. Processing times for applications placed online, by telephone, and/or by mail will vary.

How much does it cost to get a certified copy of your birth certificate?

A birth certificate usually costs $10-$35.

How to get a copy of your birth certificate

Born in the U.S.?

You will need to contact your vital records office in the state where you were born. Every state has its own department and process that you’ll need to follow. In every case, you’ll be required to present a valid photo ID and pay applicable fees.

Birth Certificate Office Contact Information

Born abroad but have American parents?

In this case, your parents should have registered you with the U.S. embassy or consulate in your birth country. You should have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad which you can get a copy from the U.S. Department of State. Some countries also have vital records offices so you can check there too.

If you were born on a U.S. military base in a foreign country, you may have to contact the hospital where you were born. 

Born abroad and adopted by American parents?

You will not be able to obtain a U.S. birth certificate if you were born in a foreign country and adopted by U.S. Citizens.

The country in which you were born will be able to issue you a copy of your foreign birth certificate. To get a copy, contact the vital records office in your birth country or the country’s embassy or consulate. 

Although you won’t have a U.S. birth certificate, you should have a certificate of naturalization or citizenship papers. If you need a replacement, contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Any questions?

It’s important to have an official copy of your birth certificate. Hopefully, you found this guide helpful.  Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions. 

Best of luck getting a copy of your birth certificate!