What is a birth record?
In the United States, a birth record is considered a vital statistic. The government maintains a record of all the original copies of birth records of all the births that have taken place in the country. The United States of America has a population of over 3 million people.
So, it is important to maintain a birth index to keep track of births, health care, neonatal care and mortality in the nation. These birth records are provided to individuals doing a birth record search. For example, the California Birth Index has a record of all registered births that have taken place in the state of California between the years 1950 to 1995. Your state may have information that goes further back or is more recent.
What does a birth record include?
The birth index maintained by every state/county includes the birth certificate, full name, county of birth, gender, mother’s maiden name and details of adoption, if any. A birth record provides details of a person’s time of birth, date and place of birth along with the names of the parents and the doctor or midwife who supervised the birth.
The information given on the birth record may be slightly different depending on the state and county. The Government collects birth records from both public and private hospitals and police stations. Earlier, birth records could only be found in the county where the birth took place or the church where the baptism was done.
Why do I need a birth record?
You may wonder why you need formal birth records, when you already know everything that you should know about yourself, read birth date and parents’ name. Well, the birth record is a perquisite to get the birth certificate and it’s the very first proof of identity and citizenship. It is also needed to get a driver’s license and a passport. Many people search the birth records and order birth certificates online to get information about their ancestors.
Where do I look up a birth record?
Birth records and birth certificate records are maintained both online and offline by government agencies and private companies, that the government has partnered with. Birth certificate records come under the category of public records. So, they are available for viewing to the general public in their states. There are many states that do not allow a person to view the birth certificate online.
Who can access the birth certificate?
There are 3 scenarios in which you can access birth record:
- 1. If you are someone requesting their own birth certificate.
- 2. If you are a relative or a family member of the person whose birth certificate is requested.
- 3. If you have written consent from the person whose birth record is sought.
Are all birth records made available to the public?
No, not all birth records fall under the public category. Some records like closed adoption cases are not available for viewing without an order from a judge.
Ways to get a birth certificate?
Offline access: In order to get a birth record offline, one has to visit the vital records unit of the state with a duly filled request form. You will need a government authorized photo ID and you will have to pay the fees for the service.
Online access: For those who prefer a more hassle-free process, there is always the option of approaching a third-party company to get the birth records. These companies are known to provide certified copies of birth records from any county or state. However, not all states allow third party companies to give birth records.
In this case, although you may get the information you need from the website, such birth records cannot be treated as an official document. Hence, they cannot be used in an official capacity to apply for any other document/license, etc. So, it’s important to check the state laws before you pay the fees to any company to get the birth cert.
Accessing birth records through a state agency
To view a birth record online from a state agency, you need to fill the form given on one of the websites that provide access to birth certificates. Authenticate yourself online or mail a copy of the identity certificate that has been notarised. Make sure you give the correct details of the state to the notary. If you need an official copy, you can reach out to CDC.gov.
The CDC, being a government agency, maintains an archive of all vital records of US citizens. People who want to avoid giving a notarised copy will get an informational certificate that specifically reads as “Informational only, not a valid document to verify identity”. Orders are processed between 20-30 working days.
How much will I be charged for ordering a birth certificate online?
Typically, the fee to get a birth certificate online is anywhere between $25 – $35 across various websites of third party companies. Some companies may also charge an additional special handling fee on credit cards. The additional fee is between $8 – $10, which would take your total cost to $33 – $45.
How are birth announcements done?
Many people looking for birth records from the 80’s or 90’s, check the newspapers. Earlier birth announcements were made through newspapers or birth announcement cards. Today, they are done through various networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or by email and sometimes by SMS.
What do I do if I find a mistake in a birth record?
Mistakes in a birth record can only be corrected by the correction/amendments department at the Vital Records Unit Office, which maintains the original copies of birth records. Sometimes the place of birth, gender or parents’ name may be recorded wrongly. Spelling errors are among the most common mistakes found in such documents.
How do I correct a mistake in a birth certificate?
Spelling errors of the birth certificate holder can be corrected easily by providing valid proof. However, correcting the parents’ name cannot be done without a court order as that is considered a legal change. We would recommend that you get a lawyer who is aware of the working of the Vital Records Birth Unit to get this correction done.