Is it Legal to Photocopy a Birth Certificate?

Last updated May 27th, 2021

Applying for a passport, driver’s license, or enrolling children in a new school are procedures that require an official birth certificate copy to be presented.

The easiest way to obtain a legal copy of a birth certificate that has full official validity is to order a certified copy of a birth certificate online. The resulting document will be suitable for official business as well as proving an individual’s identity, age, and citizenship.

To get a legal copy of a birth certificate, applicants need to fill out a simple online form with the record holder’s basic information. Depending on the state the citizen was born in, the birth certificate may be issued in long-form or short-form and require the applicant to be the record holder, a direct relative, or another eligible individual.

Can I Photocopy My Own Birth Certificate?

In most states, it's _not _illegal to obtain a birth certificate photocopy of your _own _records for personal use —unless, of course, your purpose is to commit fraud.

However, it is illegal to photocopy a third person’s vital records with out their consent.

Certain employers require new hires to provide a certified copy of their birth certificate and make a photocopy _with _the citizen’s consent to keep on file for the public's safety.

Other businesses photocopy passports, driver's licenses, and bank statements as part of their routine background checks, which is legal as long as the record holder has consented.

Those who need a copy of their own —or their child’s— birth certificate to have on file should keep any duplicates in a safe deposit box or other secure location to prevent fraud, just as they would keep certified copies.

Have a birth certificate copy and not sure whether it is an official certified copy? Read our quick guide on how to determine whether a birth certificate is official.

Are Birth Certificate Photocopies Legally Valid?

Even in states where photocopying a birth certificate is _not _illegal, the resulting document bears no legal validity. In other words, a birth certificate photocopy isn’t acceptable for official business.

If simple photocopies of a birth certificate were considered legally valid, fraud and **identity theft would likely skyrocket**. Furthermore, legal copies of birth certificates falling into the wrong hands could result in significant damage to the record holder’s identity.

Can I Notarize a Photocopy of a Birth Certificate?

A notary’s primary role is to authenticate documents in order to prevent fraud. In certain states, including Colorado, notaries are authorized to make a certified copy of an original document.

Nevertheless, a notary may _not _make a certified copy of a copy because of the risk of document tampering and fraud.

In this sense, it is useful to clear up the confusion about what constitutes an _original _birth record.

Original birth records are submitted by the hospital to the Vital Records Office after a child is born. The original documents are kept under lock and key at the agency to protect the citizen’s identity.

The document handed to new parents at the hospital after their baby is born is meant to be kept as a keepsake and holds no validity as an official birth certificate.

After the hospital has sent the birth record to the Vital Records Office, parents can easily obtain an official or certified copy of the birth certificate by ordering online. They will then receive a certified copy of the original birth certificate delivered by post to their preferred address.

The document issued by the Vital Records Office would be —a legal copy of the birth certificate—not the original. Since the certified copy of the birth certificate is issued by the Vital Records Office and bears a raised, embossed, multicolored seal, it does not need to be notarized. —Read more about notarizing birth certificates.