How to determine if your Birth Certificate is official

An official birth certificate will be necessary for several reasons. Our birth certificate is an essential document. It’s not only a primary form of identification, but it’s often used as proof of citizenship in the U.S. In the case that someone does not have a birth certificate it can be very difficult for them to get a driver’s license, state identification, or passport. For instance, if you’re planning on enrolling your child in school for the first time you will need to present an official copy of their birth certificate.

There are two kinds of birth certificates, an informational copy and an authorized one. But, how do you know if the birth certificate is official? We will explain how you can know the difference.

Certified birth certificate vs. informational birth certificate

The main difference between these two types is the way in which you can use them. For example, if you need to prove your own or your child’s identity or age, you will need an official birth certificate.

Informational birth certificates include the state, county or city where the person was born as well as the name, but cannot be used for legal reasons. Some states, like Texas, offer heirloom copies that can be used as keepsakes or to celebrate state pride. However, these copies won’t be of any use in case of applying for a driver’s license or if you need to get married.

It is also important to note that not everyone can request a certified copy of the birth certificate. In the majority of states, only the person named on the certificate, an immediate family member, or an attorney can request a certified copy of the birth certificate. People who are not family or the person or an attorney can generally request an informational copy or heirloom copy.

The seal makes it official

Perhaps you already have a copy of your child’s birth certificate or even your own, but aren’t sure if it’s official or not. New parents should note that the copy given at the hospital, sometimes with the baby’s footprints on it, is meant to be something you can hold on to. However, this copy can’t be used for official proof of identity.

An original birth certificate must remain on file at the respective vital records agency office of the birth place after it has been submitted for registration by the hospital. Technically, this is where the only “original” copy of a birth certificate can be found. It is also the place where a birth is recorded. This “original” copy is kept under lock to ensure people’s identities are protected.

For official purposes, you will always need to obtain a certified copy of your birth certificate from the department of health or your vital records office where the birth was recorded.

One of the main things that will help you determine if your certified birth certificate is official is a government seal. Look for the seal and if you can’t find one it means you have an informational copy only. Requesting an certified copy of your birth certificate won’t be difficult and you don’t even have to go to your vital records office, you can order a birth certificate online. All copies must be obtained directly from the agency that issued the original document (hence the seal), so a photocopy is not a valid copy.

Depending on the state where you were born, the seal might be raised or embossed, multicolored, or impressed into the paper. Additionally, besides the seal look out for the signature of the state, county or city registar on it.

Official birth certificate important details

There are a few details that you should keep in mind when it comes to the official birth certificate. For instance, when applying for a passport, the copy of a birth certificate must have a number for it to be valid. The official certified copy should have the complete name of the person, the date and place of birth.

Since 2011, the copy of the birth certificate must include the names of the person’s parents or parent.

When looking at an official birth certificate you also need to check the date it was filed. If the certificate does not have a filing date, or wasn’t filed within a year of the birth, you will not be able to use it to apply for a passport, as proof of citizenship or as official identification.

If you need to order your birth certificate or your child’s, you will have to specify what you will be using the certificate for. This generally dictates the type of certificate to order. When you apply for your birth certificate, be mindful of specifying the reason you need the certificate for. By providing the reason, you will make sure that the certificate will contain all the information you need.

Related:How do I get a copy of my birth certificate if born abroad?