Your birth certificate is not only the first but also one of the most important documents you’ll have throughout your life. As you probably know, the critical record certifies your birth and the circumstances surrounding it. This includes the date and time of your birth and where you were born, as well as your birth parents’ names, their birthplaces, and their ages at the time of your birth.
Most of the time, birth certificates are tucked away in a safe, a locked filing cabinet, or another secure location and seldom used. However, since it provides proof of your age and identity, there are various instances where you’ll need yours.
You might need your birth certificate to:
- Prove your citizenship
- Enroll in school
- Get a passport
- Travel across state lines (if you’re a minor)
- Get a driver’s license
- Get a marriage license
- Join the military
- Apply for government assistance
- Claim insurance benefits
- Claim a pension
As you can see, a birth certificate is a necessary piece of documentation in a variety of scenarios. This is why it’s important to take action right away if yours is lost.
If you’re wondering, What should I do if I lost my birth certificate, you’ve come to the right place. GOV+ offers helpful information and assistance for navigating the complex world of vital records. Find resources, tips, and guidance on the steps to take after losing a birth certificate.
I Lost My Birth Certificate: Now What?
Many individuals turn to us for assistance with obtaining vital records. One of the most common inquiries we get is, “What should I do if I lost my birth certificate?”
Luckily, the United States government understands that important identity documents like birth certificates are sometimes lost, stolen, or damaged beyond repair. That’s why you’re allowed to request a replacement copy.
Any U.S. citizen who was previously issued a birth certificate can apply to get a new one. This includes people born in the U.S. to American parents and those born outside the U.S. to American parents.
Who to Contact If I Lost My Birth Certificate
The right agency to contact about birth certificate replacement depends on your place of birth. To start, look up the vital records office in the state or U.S. territory in which you were born.
Though the federal government doesn’t distribute birth certificates, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), a federal agency, has an easy-to-use directory. You’ll find links to all the states and territories, as well as a fee schedule and application information for getting a new birth certificate.
You’ll also see helpful information for obtaining a copy of a marriage certificate, divorce decree, and death certificate. Additionally, some vital records offices are able to issue heirloom birth certificates, which are non-legal documents obtained strictly for sentimental value.
Bear in mind that children born in foreign countries who are adopted by U.S. citizens don’t receive birth certificates. If this is relevant to your situation, you’ll need to contact the foreign embassy or consulate for your birth country. This office will be able to issue an authenticated copy.
Replacing a Birth Certificate: What You’ll Need
Now that you know who to contact, you might be wondering what exactly is needed to replace your birth certificate. To figure out what documents are required, navigate to the CDC page for the state or territory where you were born. There, you’ll find a local link for how to get a certified copy of a birth certificate, which will note the requirements and necessary documents.
What do you need to get a birth certificate? A valid government-issued photo ID or another form of identification might be required to process your application. This may include a social security card, a passport, or a state driver’s license. However, some states accept alternate verification methods. For example, your birth state might take a notarized letter from one of your parents, along with a copy of their ID.
Additionally, some vital records offices provide copies of certified birth certificates without any proper identification. In that case, you’d request the document using your social security number, other personal information, and potentially a sworn statement of identity.
You should expect to provide your birthdate, the city you were born in, and both your parents’ names, including your mother’s maiden name. In most instances, the cost of a replacement birth certificate is around $25, but fees vary among states. You can usually pay with a check, money order, or with a credit or debit card through a secure online payment portal.
How to Start the Process of Replacing Your Birth Certificate
To begin the process of replacing a lost birth certificate, you’ll want to have all the information and required documents we mentioned above. Once you have that, you can request a certified replacement copy of your birth certificate from the vital records office of the state or U.S. territory in which you were born.
Many state agencies allow you to order a birth certificate online. If that’s the case with your vital records office, you can generally count on a fast and secure replacement process.
In other instances, you might have to fill out an application form and mail it in with various documentation to request a certified copy of your birth certificate. In that case, you should be able to print any necessary forms from the website and access detailed information about mailing in your request.
Reporting a Birth Certificate Stolen
Replacing a lost birth certificate is relatively simple, as long as you have the right information and can verify your identity. However, in the event that it was stolen, the process of requesting a new one can be slightly more complicated.
If you think your birth certificate was stolen, you’ll need to take a few extra precautions to protect yourself from identity theft. When vital records fall into the wrong hands, personal information can be manipulated, sold on the black market, or used to commit fraud. A stolen birth record can even be used to obtain other forms of ID, such as a copy of your social security card. For this reason, you’ll need to inform your birth state’s vital records office that you believe your original birth certificate was stolen.
Beyond that, you can file a police report about the theft. It’s also a good idea to monitor your credit report for any suspicious activity and promptly report any fraud if it comes up. If you suspect your birth certificate was taken along with another form of ID or any other personal documents with sensitive information, you may also want to report it to the FBI, contact your bank to freeze your cards, and look into an identity theft protection service.
Depending on the vital records office, you might need to provide additional verification to prove your identity when requesting a replacement for a stolen birth certificate. Other than indicating that your document was stolen and providing all the necessary information, you’ll follow the same general steps we outlined above to request a certified copy.
GOV+ Makes Things Simple
The best place to keep a birth certificate is safe and sound in your home. Generally speaking, you don’t need to carry it with you, even when you travel. However, most people run into various instances throughout life in which the document is necessary.
Here at GOV+, we’re committed to simplifying the process of obtaining vital records. It’s our mission to provide straightforward guidance on a variety of topics, including what to do if you lost your birth certificate, what to do if your vital records are stolen, how to obtain a marriage record or divorce records, how to change your name on your social security card, and how to get a new social security card.
Apply for a birth certificate today or contact our customer service team to learn more about our convenient, time-saving technology.
Please note that GOV+ is an independent, third-party resource not affiliated with the Social Security Administration (SSA).