From time to time you need a copy of your birth certificate to get a passport or file for Social Security or some other purpose. If your birth certificate is lost or damaged you need to order a replacement. Birth certificates are records maintained at the state (and sometimes county) level of government and their procedures vary somewhat from one jurisdiction to another. It takes up to 12 weeks to get a replacement birth certificate in some states, so it’s a good idea to start early if you need a replacement.
What You'll Need
To get a replacement birth certificate, you will need to provide your name, address and a government-issued photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, military ID). If the birth certificate is for another person, you must also state your relationship and the reason for the request. In general, you must be a parent or other immediate family member, or a legal representative or law enforcement official. Individuals can order informal (noncertified) copies of another person's certificate for things like genealogical research.
Be prepared to supply as much information as possible to aid in the search for the original birth certificate. You should have the person’s full name and any alternative names used. You also need the date and place of birth, and the father’s name and mother’s maiden name.
You have several options to order a replacement birth certificate. One is to place the order online with a service such as VitalCheck (this company is authorized as a provider by most states). Ordering through a commercial service is expensive, although it is generally a good way to speed up processing if you need the birth certificate quickly.
The most frequently used method to get a replacement birth certificate is by mail. To use this method, go to the website of the office of vital records (or statistics) in the state the person was born in (see Resources) to download and print an application form. Fill out the form according to the instructions and mail it to the address shown. Include any identification required and a check or money order for the fee.
In some states you can get replacement birth certificates from county clerk or recorder’s offices. This is an option you may prefer, since it’s generally faster than going through the office of vital records. A final option available in most states is to go to the office of vital records in person. This is actually the fastest way to get a replacement birth certificate (usually the same day or the next business day). The drawback is that there is normally only one such office per state where the records are physically stored, so you have to be in that city to use this method.
Based in Atlanta, Georgia, W D Adkins has been writing professionally since 2008. He writes about business, personal finance and careers. Adkins holds master's degrees in history and sociology from Georgia State University. He became a member of the Society of Professional Journalists in 2009.