Can I request a copy of someone else’s birth certificate?

Man asking if he can request a copy of someone else's birth certificate

The majority of U.S. states have closed birth records, which means that they are only available to the individual on record and few other select people. Closed records help protect against fraud and identity theft since birth records contain sensitive personal information.

In a closed birth record state, you can typically only access another person’s birth certificate if you are an immediate family member, have a legal interest, or have a court order. This means that you can usually get a certified birth certificate copy for someone else if you are:

  • A parent or legal guardian of the certificate holder
  • Another immediate family member (child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or domestic partner) of the certificate holder
  • A party granted access to the record through a court order
  • A member of law enforcement with a valid, legal need for the record
  • An attorney representing the certificate holder or their estate

However, most birth records are only closed for 50-75 years, depending on the state. After that, they become public records and can generally be accessed by anyone. If you need to access a public birth record, all you need is a few basic details about the individual, such as their name and place of birth. Both Texas and California maintain large, public birth record databases that you can search for the records of anyone born in that state. Genealogical websites and historical societies are also good resources that can help you locate older birth records and other documents.

Can I apply for a copy of someone else’s birth certificate if I’m not a direct family member?

If none of the situations listed above apply to you, then you may only be able to get an informational copy of the birth certificate.

Informational (also known as abstract or short-form) birth certificates contain basic information about the individual, but they are not considered legal documents and cannot be used in any official capacity. However, Informational copies are commonly used for genealogical purposes.

In most states, like California, you just need to fill out an application for an informational birth certificate with:

  • The certificate holder’s full, legal name at birth
  • Their parents’ full names, including the mother’s maiden name
  • The place and date of birth

However, Texas permits anyone to get a certified copy of another person’s birth certificate. The catch is, they must have a written, notarized, signed statement from the certificate holder, authorizing the Department of State Health Services – Vital Statistics Section to release a certified copy of the certificate to them, specifically.

The statement must be submitted with the application, along with copies of both the applicant’s photo ID and the certificate holder’s government-issued photo ID.

For more information on the different types of birth certificate, check out: Birth certificates: long form and short form

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