While birth certificate forms look different in every state, the information they contain is pretty standard throughout the U.S., as well as most foreign countries. However, the U.S. offers both long-form and short-form birth certificate copies, and as the names imply, the long-form contains more information than the short-form birth certificate. There are also certified and informational birth certificates.
Different types of birth certificates contain different information, and some can only be used for specific purposes. Some birth certificate copies are only useful as keepsakes or for genealogical purposes, while others are considered official, legal documents. It’s important to learn which is which and what each type is used for. This way, you can make sure that you have the correct type for your situation. Keep reading to learn all the details about all of the different kinds of birth certificate copies, what information they contain, how to apply for one, and what each one can be used for.
What is included on an informational birth certificate?
An informational birth certificate includes the:
- Child’s name
- Parent or parents’ names
- Time and date of birth
- City, county, and state of birth
While informational birth certificates do contain much of the same information as certified birth certificates, they are not legally valid for official use, since they the Vital Records Office does not issue them.
Most parents receive an informational birth certificate from the hospital or birthing center, soon after the birth of their new baby. They typically include the baby’s footprint and details about the baby’s birth, and often have a decorative background or border. Informational birth certificates like this are meant to be keepsakes to frame or put in a baby book, not for legal use.
Since informational birth certificates are not valid for official use, you can’t use one to verify your identity or citizenship when applying for things like driver’s licenses or passports.
Find out more here: How to determinate if your birth certificate is official
What is included on a certified birth certificate?
Unlike an informational birth certificate, a certified birth certificate copy is an official document. It usually contains much more information about the child’s birth, and it is a precise copy of the original that has been verified and certified by the Vital Records Office.
Since a certified birth certificate copy is authorized, it is considered to be an official, legal document that can be used to prove identity. So, if you need to apply for a passport, get a marriage license, or prove your citizenship, you’ll need a certified birth certificate copy.
A certified copy will usually include:
- The individual’s full, legal name
- Country, state, and city of birth
- Date and time of birth
- Gender at birth
- Whether the individual was a twin or triplet, etc.
- Father’s full name, birth date, and place of birth
- Mother’s full name, maiden name, birth date, and place of birth
- Parents’ country, state, and city of residence at the time of the child’s birth
Do all U.S. states have the same birth certificates?
No, requirements and birth certificate formats vary by state. However, every state’s certified birth certificates must include, at a minimum, the following information:
- Full, legal name
- Date of birth
- Gender at birth
- Place of birth
- Parent(s) name
- A city, county or state seal that is either raised or embossed
- Registrar’s signature
- Issue date
In addition, in order for a birth certificate to be considered valid for official use, the parents must have registered their child’s birth within one year after the child was born. However, you can request certified copies of your birth certificate at any time after the original is filed, and it will be valid proof of identity and citizenship.
Also, many states have closed birth records, so only certain people can apply for a certified copy of an individual’s birth certificate. For example, according to the California Department of Public Health, California birth certificate regulations only allow the certificate holder, their parents, and “certain other individuals or entities specified in law” to request copies. However, most states allow anyone to obtain an informational copy for non-official use.
Where do I find the birth certificate number?
At some point, you may be asked to provide your birth certificate number. This is just a unique series of eleven digits that is used to identify the document.
The birth certificate number is typically found in the upper right corner. However, a few states put it somewhere else, and some states also include two letters at the beginning of the number.
Other FAQs about birth certificates
Is blood type included on a birth certificate?
No, birth certificates do not contain the individual’s blood type.
As shown in the list above, the information included on a U.S. birth certificate simply verifies that a child was born medically alive and documents their parentage and place/date of birth. Medical information is not usually included.
If you need to determine your blood type, your healthcare provider can give you an ABO test. They will take a small sample of your blood and run a test to determine what your blood type is: A, B, AB, or O.
Does a birth certificate show the baby’s weight at birth?
No, although the application for the birth certificate, the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth, asks what the baby weighed and how long it was at birth, this information is not usually included on the official birth certificate.
And be careful not to mix up the Certificate of Live Birth and the birth certificate. The Certificate of Live Birth is just the form that parents submit to apply for an original birth certificate for their child. The original is then kept on file at the Vital Records Office, and certified birth certificate copies are made from it.
While birth certificate information does vary by state, U.S. birth certificates do not include birth weight.
Do birth certificates include the time and date of birth?
Yes, an individual’s birth certificate includes their date and time of birth in every U.S. state. This information is recorded on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth Form, which is sent to the Vital Records Office and used to generate a brand new birth certificate.
Will a birth certificate include the Social Security number?
No, a person’s birth certificate does not contain their Social Security number. In fact, this would generally be impossible since a birth certificate is nearly always an individual’s first official document.
However, there is a place on the application form for parents to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) for their newborn. So, they can apply for both at the same time.
Birth certificates and SSNs are issued by different agencies, however, so the parents will receive them as separate documents a few weeks later.
If the parents do not request a new SSN for the child on the birth certificate application, they must apply for it later in-person at the Social Security Administration office.