How to notarize a US Birth Certificate

Citizens of the United States wondering how to obtain a notarized copy of a US Birth Certificate are often looking to use the document for legal purposes such as having a passport issued or getting married.

However, in order to understand if a notary can notarize a copy of a US Birth Certificate —or other vital records, for that matter— it is necessary to clear up a few important concepts first.

When a child is born, parents are often given a copy of their baby’s birth certificate at the hospital. This copy, which often has the baby’s footprints on it, cannot be used as legal or official proof of identity.

The original document of a US birth certificate must always remain on file at the respective vital records agency office in the place where a child is born after it has been submitted for registration by the hospital.

Therefore, this document —kept under lock at the vital records office— is the only original of a birth certificate.

Should My Birth Certificate Be Authenticated, Certified or Notarized?

Whenever a US citizen is asked to provide a birth certificate for official purposes, the document they need to obtain is a Certified Copy of their birth certificate —that is, a copy of the one kept under lock— that carries:

  • A raised, embossed, impressed or multicolored seal
  • The registrar’s signature
  • The date the certificate was filed with the registrar’s office (within one year of the person's birth)

Since this certified copy is issued by the department of health or the vital records office where the birth was recorded, it is already a document that is legally and officially valid to prove the citizen’s identity.

Is it necessary to notarize the Certified Copy of a Birth Certificate?

The simple answer is: No.

It is not necessary —nor legal— to have a notary notarize the Certified Copy of your US Birth Certificate. Furthermore, a certified copy of your vital records does not need to be authenticated, since it is already certified.

This is due to several reasons:

  1. A certified copy of your birth certificate already carries a seal, as explained above —and the seal, itself, makes it official
  2. The certified copy is issued by the vital records office, which means it is already legally and officially valid, in and of itself
  3. Notaries are encouraged to decline requests to notarize copies of birth certificates and other vital records including marriage certificates, and death certificates
  4. Birth certificates and other vital records must be certified by the county clerk in the corresponding county since they are the professionals in charge of certifying that the copy a citizen obtains is exactly identical to the original birth certificate kept on file in the same vital records office

In some states, you are required to notarize your application, which means signing it in front of a public notary to prove your identity.

Now that you understand how to obtain a legally valid, government-issued copy of your birth certificate —or that of a relative— you can go ahead and order a certified copy of your vital records online. Doing so will save you time and hassle, and a trip to the vital records office.

Related: How to authenticate a US Birth Certificate?

More information: Can I Notarize A Request For A Birth Certificate? National Notary Association