When people have a new baby, they are overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions. Registering their baby’s birth and applying for a birth certificate is probably not a top priority. However, it’s vital that you do so, since a birth certificate is a necessary identifying document.
The U.S. government states that a birth certificate is “the most important document you’ll need to prove your legal identity and age”. You can conveniently apply for a Social Security number for your child on the same form you use to register your baby’s birth.
A certified copy of your birth certificate is essential when applying for other types of ID and services. You will need your birth certificate to apply for a driver’s license or passport, sign up for school, apply for government benefits, join the military, and much more. Registering your child’s birth and getting them a birth certificate is vital for their future.
A Certificate of Live Birth vs. a Birth Certificate
A Certificate of Live Birth and a birth certificate are not the same thing. The U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth is actually the application you will fill out to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. The application asks for the full name of the child, the place, date and time of their birth, and information on the child’s birth parents. After you complete the Certificate of Live Birth, it must be submitted to the Office of Vital Records or state register. They will use the information provided to create an official birth certificate.
Many people also believe that the birth certificate they received in the mail after their child was born is the original. However, this is not true. Original birth certificates never leave the Vital Records Office where they were created. They are stored under lock and key and only accessed when a copy is requested. So, the first birth certificate for your child that you will receive is a certified copy, not the original. However, certified copies are always identical to the original birth certificate. They contain all of the same information, and have been certified for accuracy and are legally valid.
How to Apply for a Birth Certificate for a Newborn
Now that you know how important it is to get a birth certificate for your new baby, we’ll show you how to apply for one. If your child is born at a hospital, the staff there will give you the forms you need to fill out. They are generally required to register the birth within 5-10 days. They will usually help you complete the application, as well, and may even send it in for you. If your child is delivered at home or at a birthing center, the midwife should also have the forms available and can help you complete them.
You will also need to make sure that, wherever your child is born, you have access to your ID. Any parent whose name will be on the birth certificate must show proof of their identity. You can do this with a valid passport or driver’s license. The forms will ask for the full name, maiden name (if applicable), mailing address and Social Security number for each parent on the birth certificate. After you complete the Certificate of Live Birth, as well as the application for a birth certificate, and send them in, it takes about 30 days for the Department of Vital Records to process the application.
When Will My Baby’s Birth Certificate Arrive?
Depending on your location, it may take anywhere from one week to one month to get the first copy of your new baby’s birth certificate. You can contact your vital records office to find out more about the expected wait time and find out when you will receive your baby’s birth certificate.
The vital records office will send the birth certificate directly to you, using the mailing address you provided on the application. If the birth certificate you receive looks different than your own, keep in mind that different states have different birth certificate formats. The U.S. birth certificate application form is standardized, but each state and county can have their own birth certificate design. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are 14,000 different birth certificate documents in the U.S.
Each state will determine the rules for their birth certificates. Each state has its own vital records office. States maintain their own birth registries and report annual vital statistics data to the federal government. Vital records offices have to keep track of births and work with parents to issue the birth certificates of their children.
When you apply for your child’s birth certificate, you can apply for their Social Security number at the same time. A Social Security number is an important identifier that your child will need throughout their life. You will also need your child’s SSN to claim child-related tax credits when you file your taxes, add your child to your health insurance, and set up a bank account or college fund for your child. You can apply for an SSN on the same form you use to apply for a birth certificate.