What Do I Need a Birth Certificate For?

A birth certificate is an important legal document —in fact, it is the first official document a citizen is issued in their life. As such, a birth certificate is used to obtain other government-issued identification documents.

Birth certificates are necessary for the following purposes:

  • To establish one’s identity
  • To prove where one was born
  • To prove one’s date of birth

Read more: When do I need a Birth Certificate?

Uses of Birth Certificates

Citizens can order certified copies of a birth certificate online to keep on file since they are required as evidence in any instance when one needs to prove their identity, age, or citizenship.

Some situations in which you may need a copy of your birth certificate include applying for other government-issued IDs such as:

Please note that a plain photocopy of your birth certificate will not be accepted. When asked to present a copy of your birth certificate, an agency or company is always referring to a certified copy of a birth certificate.

In some instances, an informational or short-form birth certificate may suffice. In others, you may be required to provide a long-form birth certificate. Both types can only be issued by a vital records office.

Read more about the difference between long-form and short-form birth certificates, and the uses of each type of birth certificate.

Other situations in which you may need a certified copy of a birth certificate include applying for government benefits, registering a child in a new school, or transferring them to a different school as well as joining sports activities or the military.

In all of the above instances, you will need an official copy of the birth certificate. Have a copy at home and not sure whether it’s official? Learn how to recognize a legally valid birth certificate.

uses of birth certificate

Instances You’ll Need A Birth Certificate

Make sure to always have an official copy of your birth certificate on file at your home or office since you will need it in any of the following instances:

  • Applying for a passport: A birth certificate is a requirement to have a passport book or a passport card issued. Additionally, cruise lines that do not require passengers to present their passport often ask for a birth certificate instead, in order to prove travelers’ identity
  • Obtaining your driver's license: Most states require citizens to present a birth certificate when requesting or renewing their driver’s license to prove their identity and age
  • Getting a replacement Social Security card: Whether you have lost, misplaced or had your social security card stolen, you will be asked to provide your birth certificate, along with another government-issued identification document to prove your identity
  • Applying for government benefits: The social services department of most states requires citizens applying for benefits to prove their identity, relationship, eligibility, and age by supplying a birth certificate along with other documents
  • Enrolling in schools: Either a birth certificate or another form of government-issued identification document stating the child's identity and age is required to enroll minors in school. Some schools may request a social security card, passport, hospital birth record, adoption record, or other valid identification document
  • Joining the military: A certified copy of your birth certificate and social security card are required forms of identification when enlisting in the military. A driver's license or other state-issued identification card, a green card, or passport may also be required.
  • Claiming pension or insurance benefits: Citizens claiming either of these are required to provide a copy of their birth certificate certified by the issuing agency along with their social security card in order to prove their identity, relationship, as well as their age
  • For genealogy purposes: Individuals looking into learning more about their family tree, parents, and other genealogy endeavors will find the information they need by having a certified copy of their birth certificate issued
  • Travel and international use: US nationals living abroad need to keep a certified copy of their birth certificate when they are getting married, obtaining a second nationality, having a new passport issued, amongst other reasons
  • Court proceedings: Citizens may require a certified copy of their birth certificate in different circumstances such as marriage or having their gender changed in order to reflect their identity
  • Signing up for sports: Minors enrolling in sports activities with an age requirement have to prove their age in order to be placed in the correct age group. This usually requires parents to present a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate
  • General Identification: Certain companies require new hires to provide a certified copy of their birth certificate as additional proof of identity, to perform background checks, or to keep on file. Banks also may require a copy of a citizen’s birth certificate when obtaining a mortgage

It is advisable to keep multiple certified copies of your birth certificate at home for your reference or future use. Most often, it takes several days or even weeks to have a birth certificate copy issued. Hence, it is good practice to order several copies ahead of time and keep the extras in a safety deposit box, ready for when the need arises.

The most hassle-free way to get a certified copy of a birth certificate for any of the above purposes is to order online. Fill out a simple birth certificate application form, print and sign it, mail it with the required documents and fees, as per our personalized instructions. Once issued, the birth certificate will be sent to your preferred address by mail.