Is Your Birth Certificate Certified?

Woman asking about how to authenticate her birth certificate

A birth certificate is an important document to have. It serves as both a vital form of identification and as proof of citizenship. You will need a certified copy of your birth certificate to get a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, or passport. There are many other circumstances where a birth certificate is important as well. For example, you’ll need to show your child’s birth certificate when you enroll your child in a new school.

However, there are two different types of birth certificates: informational and certified. You’ll need a certified copy for official use, so we’ll show you how to determine which type you have.

Differences between a certified and informational birth certificates

The primary difference between certified and informational birth certificates is their potential use. You must use a certified copy to prove identity, citizenship or age, an informational one can not be used for this purpose.

While informational birth certificate copies contain much of the same information as certified copies, they are not valid for official purposes. They are for personal use only, and are no good if you need proof of identity or citizenship. Some states, such as Texas, offer informational birth certificates in the form of heirloom copies that are only meant to be keepsakes.

In order to keep birth records private, most states restrict access to certified birth certificate copies. In general, only the certificate holder and their immediate family members can apply for a certified copy of a birth certificate. However, other individuals can usually request informational or heirloom copies.

Closed birth records help protect against fraud and identity theft. By restricting access to certified birth certificates, states can limit the risk of scammers using people’s birth certificates for illegal purposes. If just anyone could order a certified copy of your birth records, they could use then use that information and certificate to steal your identity or open up lines of credit in your name. So, it’s also important to make sure that you keep any certified copies in a safe and secure location, that only you and people you trust can access.

How to tell what type you have

If you have a copy of yours or your child’s birth certificate, you may be wondering whether it is a certified copy of not. Many people believe that the copy they receive at the hospital when their baby is born, commonly including the baby’s footprints, is the original birth certificate. However, it is not. It is just an informational, keepsake version.

The original birth certificate stays locked away at the Vital Records Office where it was filed. This is the only place where an “original” birth certificate exists. The original is always kept under lock and key, and only accessed for the creation of certified copies. To use your birth certificate for official purposes, you must get a certified birth certificate copy from the Vital Records Office where it is on file.

If you have a copy of your birth certificate, you can check for a government seal to determine whether it is certified or not. Informational copies do not have a seal, but certified copies must have one. It should be a raised or embossed seal, so you can not use a photocopy of a certified birth certificate. In addition, a certified copy will have the registrar’s signature.

So, if you don’t have a seal and a signature on yours, you’ll have to apply for a certified copy with the office that has the original certificate. Fortunately, it’s easy to order a birth certificate online.

Information that must be on an official birth certificate

Birth certificates also need to include some additional details if they are to be used for an official purpose:

  • When applying for a passport, the birth certificate must include the birth certificate number.
  • An official, certified copy must contain the person’s full name, as well as the date and place of birth.
  • Since 2011, the birth certificate must have the names of the person’s parent(s).
  • You should also check the date it was originally filed. If there is no filing date, or the filing date is more than a year after the date of birth, the birth certificate cannot be used in an official capacity.
  • When you order your or your child’s birth certificate, the application will ask what you need it for. It’s important to correctly state why you need the certificate, to make sure that you receive the correct type

Order your Birth Certificate  

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