How to Get a Certified Birth Certificate

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Yikes! You needed a certified birth certificate to verify that you’re an American citizen before you applied for your passport and pulled yours out of the firebox, only to discover it was called a birth registration notice. When you took it in to apply for your passport, they explained that the notice is not the same as a certificate and you’d need a certificate with an official seal on it.

An official copy of a US birth certificate is actually pretty easy to obtain. You’ll need to contact your state’s vital records office to ask them about getting a copy. In many states, newer records are still stored at the county level, so you may be directed to a county vital records office instead. Sometimes, you can literally walk in the same day with ten or twenty dollars, your license and your social security card and walk back out with your certified birth certificate.

Of course, if you’re out of state, you don’t want to have to drive to the county you were born in just to get a birth certificate! Luckily, you don’t have to. Contact the vital records office to find out what you’ll need to send in to obtain the certificate. Usually, you’ll just have to download a form from the vital records website, take it to a notary and have it filled out. Then, you just mail it in with the fee and wait for your new official certificate to arrive in the mail.

Not sure where your state’s vital records office is? The government has created a handy vital records resource list .


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