What information is on a Birth Certificate?

U.S. birth certificates are fairly standarized across all states. The information included on a birth certificate is similar to the details included in most foreign countries. In the United Statesthere are two type of birth certificates that the parents can receive after the birth of their child. There’s an informational birth certificate and a certified birth certificate.

What data is included on an informational Birth Certificate?

All informational birth certificates will include the following information:

  • The child’s name
  • The parent’s name
  • The time and date of birth
  • The city, county, and state of birth
  • The footprints and handprints of the baby

These type of birth certificates are not “official” or “certified” as they are not filed with the state’s records office. An information birth certificate is usually filed and printed by the hospital. Generally, they feature a background and can be used by the parents in their baby book or as a keepsake to hung on the wall or put in a photo album or scrapbook. Basically, it shows the important details of the baby’s birth.

An informational birth certificate cannot be used for legal purposes. You cannot use this certificate to obtain a social security card, driver’s license or passport. It simply features essential details of the child’s birth.

What is a certified copy of a Birth Certificate?

A certified copy of a birth certificate is an official record of the birth of a child. This type of certified birth certificate is issued by your state’s records office. Keep in mind that both authorized and informational copies are considered "certified copies”.

This is a legal document that can be used as a form of identification. A certified birth certificate can be used to get a driver’s license, passport, social security card, and also to get married.

Information included on an certified birth certificate

The information that is included on an authorized birth certificate must include the following:

  • The child’s full name, spelled out including the first, middle, and last names
  • The child’s place of birth: city, country, and state
  • The date of birth, which can also include the time
  • The child’s sex/gender
  • Details about the birth: single birth, twins, triplets, etc
  • The father’s full name
  • The birth location of the father
  • The birth date of the father
  • The mother’s full name, along with her maiden (unmarried) name
  • The birth location of the mother
  • The birth date of the mother
  • The city, country, and state of residence of the birth parents

However, it should be noted that the information on a birth certificate might vary depending on the state. Each state has its own requirements. For example, in the case of California birth certificates authorized copies may only be obtained by the individual mentioned on the certified, parents of the individual and "certain other individuals or entities specified in law", according to the California Department of Public Health. Other requestors can only obtain informational copies, which are equally considered “certified copies.”

And although a certified birth certificate may not always contain all of the above, it must at least have the following details:

  • The baby’s full name
  • The date of birth
  • The sex/gender of the baby
  • The place of birth
  • The names of both parents
  • The official City, County or State Seal

A certified birth certificate must always have a raised seal, multicolored and embossed, of the city, county or state. It must also have the signature of the registrar and the date of issue.

New parents should be aware that the registration for an official birth certificate must be submitted within one year of the birth. However, the issuance date of the birth certificate can be any date. Meaning, you can request a certified birth certificate to use to register for school, get married, get a driver’s license, etc.

Where can I find the birth certificate number?

When you obtain a certified birth certificate in the United States it will have a number to identify the document. You will usually find the birth certificate number at the upper right corner. However, the location of the number can vary depending on the state that has issued the certificate.

To make it easier for you to recognize the birth certificate number, note that it is made of eleven numbers separated by spaces. Look for the eleven-digit number. It might also start with two letters.