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What are Birth Records?

No matter how old you are, the chances are good that either you or your parents have a copy of your birth certificate. Parents receive this certificate from the hospital after the mother gives birth. If your parents adopted you, they can request that the government issue a new certificate that lists them as both your mother and your father. Some adopted children do not learn until later in life of their adoptions because their parents never told them and they had new certificates issued.

You need a birth certificate for a few things but mainly to prove your identity. If you ever lose your social security card, the government will ask for two forms of ID such as a driver’s license and a birth certificate. You may also need a birth certificate to get a passport for traveling out of the country. In addition to your own birth certificate, you might look for your loved ones’ birth certificate as you work on a family tree. Those records are available from a few different sources and are sometimes available online too.

Where to Find Birth Certificates

Anyone who was born in the United States and is a registered citizen should have a birth certificate on file somewhere. If a mother gives birth at home or outside of a medical facility, she can wait to request a birth certificate. There are cases of adults who only learned that their parents never registered them with the government when they went to apply for college or their first jobs. The Department of Vital Records in your state is the first place to look for a birth certificate. You will need the first and last name of the individual and the date of birth to get a copy.

The county health department may have copies of birth certificates on file too. If you visit one health department and cannot find the birth records that you need, you should visit the health departments in the surrounding counties too. The borders of those counties can change over the years. A loved one born in one county might have records in another county because of a border change. Though you usually need to visit the department in person, you may have the option of requesting a copy over the internet.

What You Can Learn from Birth Records

An official birth certificate will have the name of the hospital across the top and the hospital’s seal on the bottom. This seal should be embossed to show that it is official. Some of the other information that you can view on the certificate includes:

  • The name of the child
  • The names of the birth parents
  • The date and time of the birth
  • The name of the doctor who handled the birth

You should pay special attention to both the name of the child and the date of his or her birth. Parents can sometimes forget the exact time of the birth and make mistakes regarding the date too. You might find that your grandparents changed your father’s birth date because they were superstitious or wanted an easy to remember date. The name of the birth parents is also important because you may find that your family tree branches off in ways you never expected.

Online Options

If you want to quickly find a copy of a loved one’s birth certificate, don’t be afraid to use the web for help. Many health departments now offer free online record searches and also let you make requests for copies of those certificates on the web. You may have the chance to email the department to submit a request too, though they may charge for this service. Some websites offer help too and can show you census records that list birth dates. Online and official birth records can give you more information than you had when you started your family tree.

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Birth Records

Instantly Search Anyone's Birth Records Now!

We receive referral fees from partners (advertising disclosure)


The information we provide you is free of charge and a result of extensive research by our product experts. We use affiliate links in our site that provide us with referral commissions. While this fact may not influence the information we provide, it may affect the positioning of this information.

We receive referral fees from partners (advertising disclosure)

Advertising Disclosure

The information we provide you is free of charge and a result of extensive research by our product experts. We use affiliate links in our site that provide us with referral commissions.  While this fact may not influence the information we provide, it may affect the positioning of this information.

Certificatesmobile
What are Birth Records?

No matter how old you are, the chances are good that either you or your parents have a copy of your birth certificate. Parents receive this certificate from the hospital after the mother gives birth. If your parents adopted you, they can request that the government issue a new certificate that lists them as both your mother and your father.  Some adopted children do not learn until later in life of their adoptions because their parents never told them and they had new certificates issued.

You need a birth certificate for a few things but mainly to prove your identity. If you ever lose your social security card, the government will ask for two forms of ID such as a driver’s license and a birth certificate. You may also need a birth certificate to get a passport for traveling out of the country. In addition to your own birth certificate, you might look for your loved ones’ birth certificate as you work on a family tree. Those records are available from a few different sources and are sometimes available online too.

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