Why Laminating Your Birth Certificate Is Not a Good Idea

Last updated May 27th, 2021

Your birth certificate is an important document that you will need on several occasions in your personal and professional life. Having your birth certificate or those of your family at hand and in the conditions to be presented will make your life easier, for example, when:

  • You need to sign a contract of employment in the U.S.
  • You decide to join the U.S. military
  • Your children need to sign up for school
  • You request a new American passport
  • You get married
  • You need to access social security benefits in the United States

It is just normal to want to keep your birth certificate safe to avoid it going damaged, destroyed, or lost.

And while lamination may be the best way you can think of to protect a paper document, a laminated birth certificate is often also an invalid birth certificate for most official uses.

Keep reading and find out why you should not laminate your birth certificate and what to do instead to protect it.

Laminating a Birth Certificate May Invalidate It

Just like your passport, a birth certificate is printed on special paper and may present security features that make it harder to counterfeit.

Different states may use different paper, polymers, or other material for their official documents, and some may add a raised embossed stamp or other marks. In some cases, you may have to obtain an apostille birth certificate, for example, for immigration purposes.

All these security and authentication features will be lost through the lamination process, making it hard to tell whether you are holding the real thing or just a well-designed fake.

Laminated birth certificates may not be accepted

If you have laminated your birth certificate, you will find that government agencies and private organizations may not accept it as proof of identity and/or citizenship and consider it an invalid birth certificate.

Government officials and other professionals like bank employees are trained to recognize counterfeits at a glance. Some documents just do not ‘feel’ right to them. That is impossible to tell with laminated paper and it is the reason why most organizations do not accept laminated birth certificates.

It is easy to understand when you compare birth certificates to other IDs like passports. These documents are also printed on non-regular paper and present features like special characters that can only be recognized under UV lights. You would not think of laminating your passport and then expecting to be let through with it at the airport.

Alternatives to Lamination for Your Birth Certificate

If you never want to find yourself without a birth certificate and wish to avoid bureaucratic hassle and delays, you may wonder about other ways to keep your document safe.

Most people find that keeping the birth certificate in a plastic sleeve prevents water damage and normal wear and tear. Consider choosing an opaque color and keeping the certificate out of direct sunlight.

Most birth certificates are not used on a daily basis and the above will be enough to protect them. However, especially in the case of children, some documents may be required more often and have to be carried outside of the house on a regular basis.

If that sounds familiar, you may want to obtain multiple certified copies of the document. Vital records offices in your state will be able to issue as many copies as you need, although please note that most states charge a fee for each copy.

When Is It OK to Laminate My Birth Certificate?

As explained above, not only government offices but most organizations do not accept laminated birth certificates. If you want to use your birth certificate as proof of your identity and/or citizenship, then you should not laminate it.

However, documents destined to non-official uses can be laminated. Commemorative and informational birth certificates are usually retrieved, for example, to research an individual’s family tree or to celebrate the life of a relative or friend.

In these cases, the document does not present specific anti-counterfeit features and cannot be used for legal purposes. It can, therefore, be laminated.