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Mary Elizabeth Winblad (1895-1987) birth certificate

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document or a certified copy of or representation of the original record of birth. In most jurisdictions, the birth certificate is prima facie evidence that the birth occurred.

Contents

History and Contemporary Times

The documentation of births is a practice widely held throughout human civilization, especially in China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia. The original purpose of birth registration was for tax purposes and for the determination of available military manpower. Births were initially registered with churches, who maintained registers of births. This practice continued into the 19th century.[1] The compulsory registration of births with governmental agencies is a practice that originated in the United Kingdom in 1853.[2]

Most countries have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. In all countries, it is the responsibility of the mother's physician, midwife, hospital administrator, or the parents of the child to see that the birth is properly registered with the appropriate government agency.

The actual record of birth is stored with a government agency. That agency will issue certified copies or representations of the original birth record upon request, which can be used to apply for government benefits, such as passports. The certification is signed and/or sealed by the registrar or other custodian of birth records, who is commissioned by the government.

The right of every child to a name and nationality, and the responsibility of national governments to achieve this are contained in Articles 7 and 8 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “All children have the right to a legally registered name, and nationality” (CRC Article 7) and "Governments should respect children's right to a name, a nationality and family ties” (CRC Article 8).[3]

“…it’s a small paper but it actually establishes who you are and gives access to the rights and the privileges, and the obligations, of citizenship” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, February 2005.[4]

Despite 191 countries ratifying the Convention, the births of millions of children worldwide go unregistered. By its very nature, data concerning unregistered children are approximate; however, it was estimated in 2008 that 51 million babies – more than two fifths of those born worldwide – were not registered at birth.[5]

Birth registration opens the door to rights to children and adults which many other human beings take for granted: to prove their age; to prove their nationality; to receive healthcare; to go to school; to take exams; to be adopted; to protection from under-age military service or conscription; to marry; open a bank account; to hold a driving licence; to obtain a passport; to inherit money or property; and to vote or stand for elected office.[4]

There are many reasons why births go unregistered, including social and cultural beliefs and attitudes; alternative documents and naming ceremonies; remote areas, poor infrastructure; economic barriers; lack of office staff, equipment and training; legal and political restrictions; fear of discrimination and persecution; war, conflict and unrest or simply the fact that there is no system in place.[6][7][8][9] [10][11]

Retrospective registration may be necessary where there is a backlog of children whose births have gone unregistered. In Senegal, the government is facilitating retrospective registration through free local court hearings and the number of unregistered children has fallen considerably as a result. In Sierra Leone, the government gave the National Office of Births and Deaths special permission to issue birth certificates to children over seven. In Bolivia, there was a successful three-year amnesty for the free registration of young people aged between 12 and 18.[12]

Statelessness, or the lack of effective nationality, impacts the daily lives of some 11-12 million people around the world. Perhaps those who suffer most are stateless infants, children, and youth. Though born and raised in their parents’ country of habitual residence, they lack formal recognition of their existence.[13]

Birth certificates in the United Kingdom

A Soviet birth certificate from 1972.

The registration of births, marriages and deaths in the United Kingdom started in 1837, but at first there was no penalty for failing to register a birth. In the British system, all births are recorded in "registers", which have columns for various particulars of the birth, usually including the name of the child, sex, the names of the parents, the date of the birth, the location of the birth, and sometimes additional information such as the name of the attending physician, the race of the child, or the occupation of the parents. These birth registers are maintained by some government agency, who will issue certified copies or representations of the entry upon request.

Types of certified copies issued in England and Wales

Each "full" birth certificate issued is actually a certified copy of an entry from the register of births, which is held by the local Register office and at the General Register Office, Southport, pursuant to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1953. The full certificate is an exact copy of the entry, showing the child's surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, place of birth, the parent(s) name(s), their address and occupations at the time of registration. Full certificates are required for most legal purposes.[14]

In addition, one can obtain a "short" birth certificate, which is an abstract of the original entry and only includes the surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, registration district and sub-district in which the birth took place. No fee is chargeable for this certificate at the time of registration. These documents are public records and copies can be purchased upon provision of all relevant information.[14]

Birth certificates in the United States

In the U.S., the keeping of vital statistics is a state function, because it is not a power assigned by the Constitution to the federal government. Yet, the federal government is extremely dependent upon this state function because the Fourteenth Amendment expressly grounds American citizenship upon birth in the United States (a jus soli system of citizenship).

The federal and state governments have traditionally cooperated to some extent to improve vital statistics. From 1900 to 1946 the U.S. Census Bureau designed standard birth certificates, collected vital statistics on a national basis, and generally sought to improve the accuracy of vital statistics. In 1946 that responsibility was passed to the U.S. Public Health Service. Unlike the British system of recording all births in "registers", the states file an individual document for each and every birth. In most states this document is entitled a "Certificate of Live Birth".[15][16]

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for use by the individual states to document births. However, states are free to create their own forms.[17] As a result, neither the appearance nor the information content of birth certificate forms is uniform across states. These forms are completed by the attendant at birth or a hospital administrator, which are then forwarded to a local or state registrar, who stores the record and issues certified copies when requested [1].

Types of certified copies issued

Long forms

Sample of a long form birth certificate

Long forms, also known as certified photocopies, book copies, and photostat copies, are exact photocopies of the original birth record that was prepared by the hospital or attending physician at the time of the child's birth.[18] The long form usually includes parents' information (address of residence, race, birth place, date of birth, etc.), additional information on the child's birthplace, and information on the doctors who assisted in the birth of the child. The long form also usually includes the signature of the doctor involved and at least one of the parents.[19]

Many states have begun to use Electronic Birth Registration systems. These systems enable information typically seen on certified copies (long forms) to be available in computer databases, thus eliminating the need for "hard copy" long form certificates and having all birth information stored in computer databases only.

Short forms

Sample of a short form birth certificate (certification of birth)

Short forms, known sometimes as computer certifications, are not universally available, but are less expensive and more readily accessible. Information is taken from the original birth record (the long form) and stored in a database that can be accessed quickly when birth certificates are needed in a short amount of time. Whereas the long form is a copy of the actual birth certificate, a short form is a document that certifies the existence of such certificate, and is given a title such as "Certification of Birth", "Certification of Live Birth", or "Certificate of Birth Registration." The short form typically includes the child's name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth, although some also include the names of the child's parents. When the certification does include the names of the parents, it can be used in lieu of a long form birth certificate in almost all circumstances [18]. Nearly all states in the U.S. issue short forms certifications, on both state and local levels [20].

Other forms

In addition to short forms and long forms, many registration authorities also have wallet-sized short form birth certifications available, and apostille/exemplified certifications which are hand signed by the registrar and are to be used when being presented before the government of a foreign country, pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention. Other registration authorities will even issue commemorative certificates, many of which are legal certifications of birth.[21].

Most hospitals in the U.S. issue a souvenir birth certificate which typically includes the footprints of the newborn. However, these birth certificates are not legally accepted as proof of age or citizenship, and are frequently rejected by the Bureau of Consular Affairs during passport applications. Many Americans believe the souvenir records to be their official birth certificates, when in reality they hold little legal value.[22].

Birth certificates in cases of adoptions

In the United States and Canada, when a person is legally adopted, the government will seal the original birth certificate, and will issue a replacement birth certificate noting the information of the adoptive parents, and the adoptive names of the child. In those cases, adopted individuals are not granted access to their own original birth certificates upon request. Laws vary depending on state or province. Some places allow adopted people unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates, whereas in others the certificate is available only if the biological parents have given their permission. Other places do not allow adopted people access to their own original birth certificates under any circumstances.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Florida Vital Records Registration Handbook 2007". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Planning_eval/Vital_Statistics/VR_HBK_2006_Rev.pdf. 
  2. ^ "About Us". http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/aboutus/index.asp. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  3. ^ http://plan-international.org/about-plan/resources/publications/campaigns/universal-birth-registration/?searchterm=universal
  4. ^ a b Plan International (2005) Universal Birth Registration - A Universal Responsibility. Woking: Plan International.
  5. ^ http://www.childinfo.org/sowc_interactive_site/challenges_of_disparities/birth_registration.html
  6. ^ http://plan-international.org/birthregistration/files/count-every-child-2009
  7. ^ UNICEF (2005) The 'Rights' Start to Life. New York: UNICEF.
  8. ^ http://www.icn.ch/matters_birth.htm
  9. ^ UNICEF (2007) Birth Registration and Armed Conflict. Florence: Innocenti Research Centre. http://www.unicef.at/fileadmin/medien/pdf/birth_registration_and_armed_conflict.pdf
  10. ^ Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Children and HIV and AIDS Working Group on Civil Registration (2008) Birth and Death Registration in the Context of HIV and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa: Human's First and Last Right.; http://plan-international.org/birthregistration/files/ubr-in-the-context-of-hiv-and-aids-english
  11. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=4b910bf19&query=birth registration
  12. ^ Simon Heap and Claire Cody (2009), 'The Universal Birth Registration Campaign', Forced Migration Review, 32: 20-22; http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR32/20-22.pdf
  13. ^ Refugees International (2008), Futures Denied: Statelessness Among Infants, Children and Youth; http://www.refintl.org/policy/in-depth-report/futures-denied-statelessness-among-infants-children-and-youth
  14. ^ a b "General Register Office". http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/. 
  15. ^ "Report of the Panel to Evaluate the U.S. Standard Certificates". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/panelreport_acc.pdf. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau website". http://www.census.gov/po/www/foia/birth.htm. 
  17. ^ "2003 Revisions of the U.S. Standard Certificates". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/vital_certs_rev.htm. 
  18. ^ a b "Florida Office of Vital Statistics". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/birth_cert_info.htm. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth (2003 revision)". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/birth11-03final-ACC.pdf. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Inspector General's Report on Birth Certificate Fraud". http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-99-00570.pdf. 
  21. ^ "Florida Commemorative Birth Certificates". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/commem.htm. 
  22. ^ "Ask Bob Rankin". http://askbobrankin.com/passports_online.html. 

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The term "birth certificate" can refer to either the original document or a certified copy of or representation of the original record of birth.

Contents

History and Contemporary Times

The documentation of births is a practice widely held throughout human civilization, especially in China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia. The original purpose of birth registration was for tax purposes and for the determination of available military manpower. Births were initially registered with churches, who maintained registers of births. This practice continued into the 19th century.[1] The compulsory registration of births with governmental agencies is a practice that originated in the United Kingdom in 1853.[2]

Most countries have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. In all countries, it is the responsibility of the mother's physician, midwife, hospital administrator, or the parents of the child to see that the birth is properly registered with the appropriate government agency.

The actual record of birth is stored with a government agency. That agency will issue certified copies or representations of the original birth record upon request, which can be used to apply for government benefits, such as passports. The certification is signed and/or sealed by the registrar or other custodian of birth records, who is commissioned by the government.

The right of every child to a name and nationality, and the responsibility of national governments to achieve this are contained in Articles 7 and 8 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: “All children have the right to a legally registered name, and nationality” (CRC Article 7) and "Governments should respect children's right to a name, a nationality and family ties” (CRC Article 8).[3]

“…it’s a small paper but it actually establishes who you are and gives access to the rights and the privileges, and the obligations, of citizenship” - Archbishop Desmond Tutu, February 2005.[4]

Despite 191 countries ratifying the Convention, the births of millions of children worldwide go unregistered. By their very nature, data concerning unregistered children are approximate; however, it was estimated in 2008 that 51 million babies – more than two fifths of those born worldwide – were not registered at birth.[5]

Birth registration opens the door to rights to children and adults which many other human beings take for granted: to prove their age; to prove their nationality; to receive healthcare; to go to school; to take exams; to be adopted; to protection from under-age military service or conscription; to marry; open a bank account; to hold a driving licence; to obtain a passport; to inherit money or property; and to vote or stand for elected office.[4][6]

There are many reasons why births go unregistered, including social and cultural beliefs and attitudes; alternative documents and naming ceremonies; remote areas, poor infrastructure; economic barriers; lack of office staff, equipment and training; legal and political restrictions; fear of discrimination and persecution; war, conflict and unrest or simply the fact that there is no system in place.[7][8][9][10] [11][12]

Retrospective registration may be necessary where there is a backlog of children whose births have gone unregistered. In Senegal, the government is facilitating retrospective registration through free local court hearings and the number of unregistered children has fallen considerably as a result. In Sierra Leone, the government gave the National Office of Births and Deaths special permission to issue birth certificates to children over seven. In Bolivia, there was a successful three-year amnesty for the free registration of young people aged between 12 and 18.[13]

Statelessness, or the lack of effective nationality, impacts the daily lives of some 11-12 million people around the world. Perhaps those who suffer most are stateless infants, children, and youth. Though born and raised in their parents’ country of habitual residence, they lack formal recognition of their existence.[14]

Birth certificates in the United Kingdom

The registration of births, marriages and deaths in the United Kingdom started in 1837, but at first there was no penalty for failing to register a birth. In the British system, all births are recorded in "registers", which have columns for various particulars of the birth, usually including the name of the child, sex, the names of the parents, the date of the birth, the location of the birth, and sometimes additional information such as the name of the attending physician, the race of the child, or the occupation of the parents. These birth registers are maintained by some government agency, who will issue certified copies or representations of the entry upon request.

Before the government's registration system birth or more precisely baptism (and also marriage and death) certificates were created by a current incumbent priest providing certified true copies of entries in parish registers.

Types of certified copies issued in England and Wales

Each "full" birth certificate issued is actually a certified copy of an entry from the register of births, which is held by the local Register office and at the General Register Office, Southport, pursuant to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1953. The full certificate is an exact copy of the entry, showing the child's surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, place of birth, the parent(s) name(s), their address and occupations at the time of registration. Full certificates are required for most legal purposes.[15]

In addition, one can obtain a "short" birth certificate, which is an abstract of the original entry and only includes the surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, registration district and sub-district in which the birth took place. No fee is chargeable for this certificate at the time of registration. These documents are public records and copies can be purchased upon provision of all relevant information.[15]

Birth certificates in the United States

In the U.S., the issuance of birth certificates is a State function.[16] The federal government depends upon this state function because birthplace is a determinant of American citizenship.[17] [18]

The federal and state governments have traditionally cooperated to some extent to improve vital statistics. From 1900 to 1946 the U.S. Census Bureau designed standard birth certificates, collected vital statistics on a national basis, and generally sought to improve the accuracy of vital statistics. In 1946 that responsibility was passed to the U.S. Public Health Service. Unlike the British system of recording all births in "registers", the states file an individual document for each and every birth. In most states this document is entitled a "Certificate of Live Birth".[19][20]

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for use by the individual states to document births. However, states are free to create their own forms.[21] As a result, neither the appearance nor the information content of birth certificate forms is uniform across states. These forms are completed by the attendant at birth or a hospital administrator, which are then forwarded to a local or state registrar, who stores the record and issues certified copies when requested [1].

Types of certified copies issued

Long forms

Long forms, also known as certified photocopies, book copies, and photostat copies, are exact photocopies of the original birth record that was prepared by the hospital or attending physician at the time of the child's birth.[22] The long form usually includes parents' information (address of residence, race, birth place, date of birth, etc.), additional information on the child's birthplace, and information on the doctors who assisted in the birth of the child. The long form also usually includes the signature of the doctor involved and at least one of the parents.[23]

Many states have begun to use Electronic Birth Registration systems. These systems enable information typically seen on certified copies (long forms) to be available in computer databases, thus eliminating the need for "hard copy" long form certificates and having all birth information stored in computer databases only.

Short forms

Short forms, known sometimes as computer certifications, are not universally available, but are less expensive and more readily accessible. Information is taken from the original birth record (the long form) and stored in a database that can be accessed quickly when birth certificates are needed in a short amount of time.[citation needed] Whereas the long form is a copy of the actual birth certificate, a short form is a document that certifies the existence of such certificate, and is given a title such as "Certification of Birth", "Certification of Live Birth", or "Certificate of Birth Registration."[citation needed] The short form typically includes the child's name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth, although some also include the names of the child's parents. When the certification does include the names of the parents, it can be used in lieu of a long form birth certificate in almost all circumstances [22]. Nearly all states in the U.S. issue short forms certifications, on both state and local levels [24].

Other forms

In addition to short forms and long forms, many registration authorities also have wallet-sized short form birth certifications available, and apostille/exemplified certifications which are hand signed by the registrar and are to be used when being presented before the government of a foreign country, pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention. Other registration authorities will even issue commemorative certificates, many of which are legal certifications of birth.[25].

Most hospitals in the U.S. issue a souvenir birth certificate which typically includes the footprints of the newborn. However, these birth certificates are not legally accepted as proof of age or citizenship, and are frequently rejected by the Bureau of Consular Affairs during passport applications. Many Americans believe the souvenir records to be their official birth certificates, when in reality they hold little legal value.[26].

Birth certificates in cases of adoptions

In the United States and Canada, when a person is legally adopted, the government will seal the original birth certificate, and will issue a replacement birth certificate noting the information of the adoptive parents, and the adoptive names of the child. In those cases, adopted individuals are not granted access to their own original birth certificates upon request. Laws vary depending on state or province. Some places allow adopted people unrestricted access to their own original birth certificates, whereas in others the certificate is available only if the biological parents have given their permission. Other places do not allow adopted people access to their own original birth certificates under any circumstances.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Florida Vital Records Registration Handbook 2007". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Planning_eval/Vital_Statistics/VR_HBK_2006_Rev.pdf. 
  2. ^ "About Us". http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/aboutus/index.asp. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  3. ^ http://plan-international.org/about-plan/resources/publications/campaigns/universal-birth-registration/?searchterm=universal
  4. ^ a b Plan International (2005) Universal Birth Registration - A Universal Responsibility. Woking: Plan International.
  5. ^ http://www.childinfo.org/sowc_interactive_site/challenges_of_disparities/birth_registration.html
  6. ^ Plan (2009) Count Every Child; http://plan-international.org/about-plan/resources/publications/campaigns/count-every-child
  7. ^ http://plan-international.org/birthregistration/files/count-every-child-2009
  8. ^ UNICEF (2005) The 'Rights' Start to Life. New York: UNICEF.
  9. ^ http://www.icn.ch/matters_birth.htm
  10. ^ UNICEF (2007) Birth Registration and Armed Conflict. Florence: Innocenti Research Centre. http://www.unicef.at/fileadmin/medien/pdf/birth_registration_and_armed_conflict.pdf
  11. ^ Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Children and HIV and AIDS Working Group on Civil Registration (2008) Birth and Death Registration in the Context of HIV and AIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa: Human's First and Last Right.; http://plan-international.org/birthregistration/files/ubr-in-the-context-of-hiv-and-aids-english
  12. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/search?page=search&docid=4b910bf19&query=birth registration
  13. ^ Simon Heap and Claire Cody (2009), 'The Universal Birth Registration Campaign', Forced Migration Review, 32: 20-22; http://www.fmreview.org/FMRpdfs/FMR32/20-22.pdf
  14. ^ Refugees International (2008), Futures Denied: Statelessness Among Infants, Children and Youth; http://www.refintl.org/policy/in-depth-report/futures-denied-statelessness-among-infants-children-and-youth
  15. ^ a b "General Register Office". http://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/. 
  16. ^ Birth Certificate Fraud, Office of Inspector General, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1988, p. iii, http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oai-02-86-00001.pdf 
  17. ^ Lee, Margaret (12 May 2006), U.S. Citizenship of Persons Born in the United States to Alien Parents, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, http://digital.library.unt.edu/govdocs/crs/data/2006/upl-meta-crs-9011/RL33079_2006May12.pdf?PHPSESSID=1ca373c497c7db6a81c7ca74a1445530.pdf, retrieved 16 August 2008 
  18. ^ Report of the panel to evaluate the standard U.S. certificates, Division of Vital Statistics National—Center for Health Statistics, April 2000, addenda November 2001, p. 60, http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/panelreport_acc.pdf 
  19. ^ "Report of the Panel to Evaluate the U.S. Standard Certificates". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/panelreport_acc.pdf. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau website". http://www.census.gov/po/www/foia/birth.htm. 
  21. ^ "2003 Revisions of the U.S. Standard Certificates". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/vital_certs_rev.htm. 
  22. ^ a b "Florida Office of Vital Statistics". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/birth_cert_info.htm. 
  23. ^ "U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth (2003 revision)". http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/birth11-03final-ACC.pdf. 
  24. ^ "U.S. Inspector General's Report on Birth Certificate Fraud". http://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-07-99-00570.pdf. 
  25. ^ "Florida Commemorative Birth Certificates". http://www.doh.state.fl.us/planning_eval/vital_statistics/commem.htm. 
  26. ^ "Ask Bob Rankin". http://askbobrankin.com/passports_online.html. 

Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

Mary Elizabeth Winblad (1895-1987) birth certificate

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The certificate itself usually includes some or all of the following information:

  • Birth name
  • Date and time of birth
  • Sex of the child
  • Place and/or location of birth
  • Names of the parents of the child
  • Occupations of parents of the child
  • Birth weight and length
  • Name of informant registering the birth
  • Date of registration of birth
  • A birth registration number or file number

Most countries have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. In the United States, it is the responsibility of the mother's physician, midwife, or a hospital administrator to prepare the official birth certificate and file it with the appropriate government agency.

The actual certificate is usually stored with some government office, although the parents of the child and later the child itself are authorized to obtain certified copies or representations of the original birth certificate, which can be used to apply for government benefits, such as passports. The certificate is stamped or signed by the registrar or other custodian of birth records, who is commissioned by the government.

The birth certificate itself is not proof of a person's identity, but only a record stating that a birth occurred at the time, date, and place stated on the certificate. To prove one's identity, a person may need a photo ID, generally issued to an adult.

Contents

Birth certificates in the United Kingdom

The registration of births, marriages and deaths in England and Wales started in 1837, but at first there was no penalty for failing to register a birth. Legal adoptions have been registered since 1927.

Births must be registered within 42 days. This can often be done at the hospital, or if not, at the local Register Office. If the parents are married to each other, either parent can register the birth. If not, for the father's details to be recorded, both must go to the Register Office together, or, where the father is unavailable to attend, he may make a statutory declaration acknowledging paternity which the mother may take and vice versa.

Any member of the public may obtain a copy of any birth certificate on payment of the correct fee.

Types of certificates

In the United Kingdom, an individual certificate is not kept on file for each birth. Instead, all births are recorded in registers, and each "full" birth certificate issued is actually a certified photocopy of an entry from the register of births, which is held by the local Register Office and at the General Register Office, London, pursuant to the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1953. The full certificate is an exact copy of the entry, showing the child's surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, place of birth, the parent(s) name(s), their address and occupations at the time of registration. Full certificates are required for most legal purposes.

In addition, one can obtain a "short" birth certificate, which is an abstract of the original entry and only includes the surname, forename(s), date of birth, sex, registration district and sub-district in which the birth took place. No fee is chargeable for this certificate at the time of registration.

Birth certificates in the United States

Long forms

Sample of a long form birth certificate

Long forms, also known as certified photocopies, book copies, and photostat copies, are exact photocopies of the original birth record that was prepared by the hospital or attending physician at the time of the child's birth. The long form usually includes parents' information (address of residence, race, birth place, date of birth, etc.), additional information on the child's birthplace, and information on the doctors that assisted in the birth of the child. The long form also usually includes the signature of the doctor involved and at least one of the parents.

In the U.S., the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for long form birth certificate use. However, states are free to create their own forms. These "forms" are completed by the attendant at birth or a hospital administrator, which are then forwarded to a local or state registrar, who stores the record and issues certified copies when requested.

Long forms may become obsolete in years to come, as many states have begun to use Electronic Birth Registration systems. [1] The use of these systems will enable information typically seen on certified copies (long forms) to be available in computer databases that typically issue short form certificates, thus eliminating the need for "hard copy" long form certificates and having all birth information stored in computer databases only. This benefits parents in many ways; registration can be completed via computer at the hospital, meaning that parents can stop by their Vital Statistics office on the way home from the hospital to purchase the birth certificate instantly. It also means that the extra cost for long form certificates will no longer be a factor.

Short forms

Sample of a short form birth certificate (certification of birth)

Short forms, known sometimes as computer certifications, are not universally available, but are cheaper than photocopies and much more easily accessible. Limited information is taken from the original birth record (the long form) and stored in a database that can be accessed quickly when birth certificates are needed in a short amount of time. Whereas the long form is a copy of the actual birth certificate, a short form is a document that certifies the existence of such certificate, and is usually titled a "Certification of Birth" or "Certificate of Birth Registration". The short form typically includes the child's name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth, although some also include the names of the child's parents. When the certification does include the names of the parents, it can be used in lieu of a long form birth certificate in almost all circumstances. Nearly all states in the U.S. issue short forms certifications, on both state and local levels.

Other forms

In addition to short forms and long forms, many registration authorities also have wallet-sized short form birth certifications available, and appostile/exemplified certifications which are hand signed by the registrar and are to be used when being presented before the government of a foreign country. Other registration authorities will even issue commemorative certificates, many of which are legal certifications of birth.

Most hospitals in the U.S. issue a souvenir birth certificate which typically includes the footprints of the newborn. However, these birth certificates are not legally accepted as proof of age or citizenship, and are frequently rejected by the Bureau of Consular Affairs during passport applications. Many Americans believe these souvenir records to be their official birth certificate, when in reality it holds little legal value.

Birth certificates in other countries

Most countries use methods of birth registration similar to those of the United States or United Kingdom. The original birth certificate is stored with a particular agency and copies are issued upon request.

See also

External links


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Birth certificate. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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This article uses material from the "Birth certificate" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

A birth certificate is a vital record that documents the birth of a child. The certificate itself usually includes some or all of the following information:

  • Birth name
  • Date and time of birth
  • Sex of the child
  • Place and/or location of birth
  • Names of the parents of the child
  • Occupations of parents of the child
  • Birth weight and length
  • Name of informant registering the birth
  • Date of registration of birth
  • A birth registration number or file number

Most countries have statutes and laws that regulate the registration of births. In the United States, it is the responsibility of the mother's physician, midwife, or a hospital administrator to prepare the official birth certificate.

The birth certificate itself is not proof of a person's identity, but only a record stating that a birth occurred at the time, date, and place stated on the certificate. To prove one's identity, a person may need a photo ID, generally issued to an adult.

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