Who can request a birth certificate?

In most states, birth certificates are private records only available to immediate family members or those who can prove they have a tangible interest in obtaining them.

In states where birth records are kept private, all direct family members, third parties with a legal interest, or with a court order may get a certified copy of a birth certificate for someone else. These include:

  • The registrant
  • A parent or legal guardian of the registrant
  • A direct family member (child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner) of the registrant
  • A party entitled to get the record as a result of a court order
  • A member of a law enforcement agency, or a representative of another governmental agency
  • An attorney representing the registrant or the registrant's estate

In Texas, for example, birth records are kept private for 75 years after the citizen’s birth is first recorded. Therefore, only eligible applicants may request a copy of a Texas birth certificate.

Can I obtain a copy of a birth certificate if I’m not a direct family member?

If you are not a direct family member, or if you do not have a tangible legal interest to obtain a certified copy of a birth certificate, you may apply for an informational copy of a birth certificate.

An informational copy will contain the registrant’s basic information. However, it is not a legal document and may not be used to prove someone's identity. Informational copies are often requested for genealogical purposes.

In states such as California, anyone with the right information can request an informational copy or abstract of a birth certificate.

The applicant just needs to fill out the birth certificate application with the following details:

  • The certificate bearer’s full name
  • The parents’ full names, including the mother’s maiden name
  • The date and place of birth

In Texas, on the other hand, applicants who are not direct family members who wish to obtain a copy of a birth certificate will need an immediate family member to provide them with a written, notarized, signed statement authorizing the Department of State Health Services - Vital Statistics Section to release a certified copy of the certificate to them.

This statement must be presented alongside a photocopy of the ID of the individual granting the applicant permission as well as a copy of the applicant’s photo ID.

The statement must specifically identify the applicant by their full name. contain all relevant information; however, it is not a legal document and may not be used to prove someone's identity. Informational copies are often requested for genealogical purposes.

Read more: Birth certificate long form and short form

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