How Long Does it Take to Receive a Birth Certificate?

by Stephen Lilley ; Updated October 25, 2017
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Birth Certificate?

The Basics

A birth certificate details all of the specifics of the birth of a child. Important information such as hospital name and location, name of parents, the doctor that delivered the baby, the time of birth and the birth weight and height are all listed on a birth certificate. A birth certificate can be used for a variety of reasons, but the main thing is that it is considered proof that the person the birth certificate belongs to was a naturally born United States citizen. A birth certificate can also be used as a form of identification and in certain cases can be used in lieu of a passport when crossing the border from one country into another (for example from the United States into Canada).

In the case of a newborn baby a hospital will either fill out and send in all the appropriate paperwork for a birth certificate or at least give it to the parents to fill out themselves. The address to mail the paperwork to will be on the documents. The paperwork will be mailed to the local state Department of Health. Certain states will allow a birth certificate to be mailed to the parents while others will require it picked up in person. In most cases the first birth certificate will cost $10 and any additional copies will be $5 a piece.


When ordering a birth certificate, be it an original when a baby is born or a copy at some later date, most states will take anywhere from four to eight weeks to produce it. This may vary depending on a number of factors including what part of the country you live in and the number of birth certificate requests received around the same time. If you are picking up a copy of a birth certificate in person, most states recommend that you be prepared to wait around an hour.

People Who Can Request Copies

Because a birth certificate is considered an important legal document, only certain people can request a copy of a birth certificate. The person who is named on the certificate may request a copy at any time. Likewise, the people listed as parents on the birth certificate may also request copies. If a husband, wife or child obtains petitions the state court they too may obtain a copy of a birth certificate, though they will have to present good explanation as to why they want one. In all of these situations a birth certificate will not be presented without showing a valid form of identification to prove your identity.


About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.

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