Here's When & How New Parents Get Their Baby's Birth Certificate

Getting your baby's birth certificate is a big moment for many parents, because it's your kid's first official piece of identification. It means your kid is on the grid. So does the hospital give you your baby's birth certificate, or does it arrive another way? Getting the certificate may include a little more work, because not all newborns go home from the hospital with a shiny new birth certificate in hand.

Procedures for getting your baby's birth certificate may vary a little in each state, so it's a good idea to review your own state's process. For the most part, though, your labor and delivery team will help you fill out the birth certificate application, according to Vital Chek. In some (but not all) cases, they will even submit the forms for you. If you have to do it yourself, though, it isn't a big deal. Typically you just mail it off. Once your newborn's birth is registered in your local vital records office, you can request an official hard copy of the birth certificate in the mail a few weeks later, as further explained by Vital Chek. If you have any questions at all, don't hesitate to ask your birth team. They deal with this everyday.

On the off chance that the hospital did not give you a birth certificate application, use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vital records database to find your state's vital records office contact info. Your state's office will be able to help you get everything you need for the birth certificate. You can often download the application form from these local sites as well.

As a quick review, there are two major pieces of paperwork that come along with your baby's birth, and they have borderline-identical names. These are the Certificate of Live Birth and the Official Birth Certificate itself. (Not at all confusing, right?) The Certificate of Live Birth is the form that lists a newborn's name, parents' names, date of birth, and other basic information, according to The Law Dictionary. When completed, the Certificate of Live Birth is sent to the Office of Vital Statistics or the State Register to complete the Official Birth Certificate. The Official Birth Certificate is the record used to apply for a passport or school enrollment later on in life, whereas the Certificate of Live Birth only shows that a person is, medically speaking, alive.

In the age of online-everything, why should you bother ordering a hard copy of the birth certificate anyway? The paper copy is still a pretty crucial document for all sorts of reasons. If you plan on enrolling your kid in school or traveling outside of the country any time soon, then a hard copy of the birth certificate is crucial. After all, original or certified copies of the birth certificate are required to apply for a passport or register for schools in many states, according to Datafied. Basically, you need an official copy or two on hand to prove that your kid does, in fact, exist.

On that note, carefully storing the birth certificate is also crucial. Because this piece of paper will be needed for your child's future driver's license or marriage certificate, it's important to store it safely. A safe deposit box in your bank or a fireproof lockbox in your home are both very secure ways to store a birth certificate, according to But if you don't want to go to this extreme, then a safe spot in a filing cabinet or drawer is also doable. Whatever the case, take a minute to appreciate this little piece of paper that will follow your child throughout life.

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