Long Form vs. Short Form Birth Certificates

Woman asking about long forms vs short form birth certificates

A birth certificate is a legal document that provides essential information about a person’s birth, including their name, date of birth, birthplace, and parents’ names. Birth certificates come in two different forms: long-form and short-form. Each type of birth certificate has its own uses, as well as specific rules and regulations for applying for a copy. So let’s take a look at long-form vs. short-form birth certificates and what each one can be used for, as well as how to apply for birth certificate copies.

What is a long-form birth certificate?

A long-form birth certificate, also known as a certified copy of the birth record, is a more detailed version of the birth certificate. It typically includes information about the individual’s birthplace, the names of their parents, and the date and time of their birth. In addition, a long-form birth certificate may also contain information about the individual’s parents’ ages, occupations, and places of birth. Long-form birth certificates are considered to be legally valid documents that you can use to prove your age, identity, and citizenship.

What is a short-form birth certificate?

A short-form birth certificate, also referred to as an abstract birth certificate, is just a condensed version of the birth record. It typically contains only the individual’s name, birth date, and their place of birth, as well as the names of their parents. So, as you can see, a short-form or abstract birth certificate includes much less information than a long-form copy. Since they are not complete records, short-form copies can not typically be used for any official purposes or to prove your citizenship or age.

What are the differences between long-form and short-form birth certificates?

The main difference between a long-form and short-form birth certificate is the amount of information they contain. A long-form birth certificate contains much more detailed information about the individual, their parents, and their birth. While a short-form birth certificate only includes basic information, like the individual’s name and date and place of birth. 

Additionally, a long-form birth certificate or certified birth certified copy is the only one that is considered to be a legal, official document. This means you can use it when applying for a driver’s license, passport, or marriage license. Short-form birth certificates, on the other hand, are generally only used for personal purposes, such as genealogy or as keepsakes.

Why is it important to have a long-form copy of your birth certificate?

It’s important to keep a certified or long-form copy of your birth certificate in a safe, secure place so you have it when you need it. There are many instances when you may need a legally valid birth certificate copy to prove your age, citizenship, or identity, including:

So without a certified long-form birth certificate copy, you may find it difficult to complete some of these important tasks. However, there are strict rules when it comes to applying for a long-form birth certificate copy, which we’ll discuss in detail further on. 

What can short-form birth certificates be used for?

While short-form birth certificates are not considered to be legally valid to prove your age or citizenship, they still have their uses. Especially since there are fewer qualifications that you have to meet to apply for them.

If you’re doing genealogical research or building your family tree, short-form birth certificates are easy to get and can be incredibly helpful. Many people also like to keep short-form copies as family keepsakes, and some states even offer decorative heirloom versions specifically for that purpose.

How to get a copy of your birth certificate?

If you need to get a birth certificate replacement, you have to apply through the vital records office in the state where the birth was registered. In most states, you have to apply by mail or in person. However, you can usually find the application form on the state’s government or vital records website. 

If you don’t want to waste time driving to the vital records office and standing in line, Birth Certificate Copy can help you apply for a certified copy of your birth certificate online, quickly and easily. We’ve developed a simple, streamlined online application system that allows you to apply for a short or long-form birth certificate copy from any U.S. state. 

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