Do I need my birth certificate?

I don’t have a copy of my birth certificate. I have a scan of a copy, but I suspect that isn’t valid for anything.

Do I actually need a certified birth certificate for anything? I already have a driver’s license, a passport, and credit cards.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, my birth certificate says “certificate of live birth,” so I guess that means I was actually born in Kenya, not Washington, DC.

One thing is that birth certificates don’t usually expire. I have a certified copy of my birth certificate that is literally 30 years old - it’s all yellowy and has a few stains of who knows what on it, but nobody has ever told me that it was unacceptable and please get a new certificate.

One problem with birth certificates is that a lot of people’s birth certificates have former names on them or sometimes even “baby boy” or other notations instead of their name. I know that some jurisdictions will let you change the name on your birth certificate if you change your name by court order. Do they do that for name changes by marriage? Have you ever seen a birth certificate that says “name of child: Ann Mary Jones aka Mrs. Ann Jones Peterson date of birth 6/1/1989 date of marriage 5/4/2012”? I know a man that changed his last name legally due to daddy issues and he told me that he gets harassed at the DMV and other places because his birth certificate doesn’t have the same last name as the one he put on the form, and even though he also has a certified copy of the name change order they have to scrutinize this stuff extra carefully and let it be known that they aren’t happy.

I believe most if not all US states use the term “certificate of live birth” on these documents, which was just one of the things that made the Birther outcry so ludicrous. My copy from the state Out West where I was born certainly does.

I think it’s a good idea to have a copy on hand. You may never need it, but if you do, there’s a something of a lag time before you can get it.

I needed a certified copy of my birth certificate to prove I was a US citizen for a program I was working on for one of my company’s customers (and had to pay something like $40 to get it shipped next-day air from Montana to boot). However, I think that I could have used a passport as well. I just didn’t have one.

They had no problem with the fact that my birth certificate had my birth name and not my married name. They just photocopied my birth certificate and my driver’s license together. They didn’t need my marriage license (which contains both names).

Oh, and it’s a “certificate of live birth” that looks a lot like Obama’s…so maybe my parents were lying about the Montana part and I was born in Kenya, too. :slight_smile:

Obviously not the OP’s case, but it’s often good to have a copy just so you can be sure of yourself. I’ve heard tell stories of people who had a rude surprise when they finally saw the exact name or date on theirs. (George Harrison his whole life believed he was born on a February 25, but finally it emerged the official time and date was 11:50pm on the 24th.)

I lost my original Social Security card several years ago. I had to have an actual SS card to get a marriage license. I had to have a copy of my birth certificate to get a new SS card, which I also couldn’t find. So, I had to get a new copy of my birth certificate to get a new SS card so I could get married.

“Birth Certificate” is a generic term, that applies to any recognized document that purports to certify a birth. Mine is from a county register of deeds, with a raised seal, signed by the Register of Deeds. bearing a photocopy of a document called a “Copy of Birth Record”, which contain all relevant particulars as well as the signed “Certificate of attending physician or midwife”.

Neither of my parents ever had a birth certificate, having been born before they were universal. My mother’s birth was never recorded anywhere. She got a drivers license in 1923, based on her declared date of birth, and ever since then, prior documents were always accepted as evidence of birth. The boys in her family have their births recorded at their church, but not the girls. I think my father’s birth was recorded in a family bible, and he had a state document attesting that some registrar had seen that proof of his birth.

If the Anchor Baby law is ever changed, I would lose my US citizenship, because I would never be able to prove that my parents were US citizens at the time if my birth.

Florida passed a law a couple of years ago that says basically that every second time you renew your drivers license, you must go in person and present all the basic identification, including proof of citizenship or legal residence, such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or green card. As illegal immigrant hysteria spreads across the country, I wouldn’t be surprised if more states impose similar requirements (or maybe have already imposed them). And don’t be surprised if the requirements for a passport renewal are also tightened up. A couple of years ago they imposed a requirement that (for some reason) both your parents must be named on your birth certificate or else you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get a passport.

My point is that ID and documentation requirements are getting worse in this country all the time. You might as well get a copy now when it’s not an emergency so you don’t have to go into panic mode like Tamex’s example.

I got a copy of my birth certificate, not the original or a photocopy of the original but a whole new one, as I needed it to get my passport. It cost a little bit of money, and I needed affidavits from family I think to prove I was the right person for that document, but it was just a minor bureaucratic formality.

Foolishly I since lost it during a move, but as I have my passport it’s all the ID I have subsequently needed, including when I had to have said passport renewed.

My mother was in her 60s when she needed her birth certificate to get a passport. The date on it was 2 days after what she thought was her birthday. Her reasoning was that the doctor probably made his rounds in the neighborhood, and finally got around to filing all the new births, 2 days later.

“Live birth”? Is that as opposed to hatching?

You’ll need your birth certificate if you apply for permanent residency in other countries.

As opposed to “stillbirth,” which was recorded in some states.

I suppose that this raises the whole question of how do we **prove **we are who we say we are. In the UK I believe that most living people, born and registered here, are now on the government database. The problem comes from immigrants (legal and otherwise) and deliberate fraudsters.

For a first passport you have to go in person to a Passport Office and they will ask questions and check documents until they are happy that you are you. Even babies here need their own passports to travel abroad.

I recently needed mine to get admitted to practice law in a new state. They’re easy enough to get in this day and age, at least in my birth county. All I had to do is go on line and order up a new certified copy.

As for Social Security cards, I haven’t seen mine since about 1975, and no one has ever asked to see it.

Also - apparently Puerto Rico had an issue that everyone wanted a birth certificate for everything - job applications, bank loans,etc.? There were so many copies floating around in different files and being misused,that at some point in the last decade the government simply declared any certificate issued before then as invalid; and new ones required in-person application or some serious legal certifications.

I would suggest you get a copy while it’s still not urgent and it’s not stopping you from earning a living or taking a trip. When you gotta gotta have it now is not the best time to find out it may take a few weeks, especially if it’s means a trip half-way across the country to get it.

  1. Birth certificates are still used for everything there.

  2. The certificates change every few years. My parents and I have several official copies of my birth certificate because every few years, they declare the ones from previous years invalid and demand people to present new birth certificates.

  3. It has always required some sort of in-person application, but it doesn’t have to be the person. For example, my parents got me my most recent birth certificate.

  4. It seems PR itself is the one with the problem, as I was able to use the copy I had (which was the one immediately before the most current one) to show it to the social security offices when there was some screw up in my tax documents a few years back. They accepted it (I was not in PR, but needed to show my birth certificate).

My, it sounds complicated. Remind me never to move to Florida. Not that I would. But to answer the OP, once I got a passport, I needed the BC only to prove my age when I retired, since my pension account was being converted to an annuity. Oddly enough, they didn’t ask for my wife’s although the annuity will continue (at 60%) if I predecease her. Which I doubtless will. Maybe they would have taken my passport as sufficient evidence. But I had not the slightest problem getting a new BC from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s dept of vital stats and they even issued it in the name I use, not the name on the original. This was in 1999, maybe I couldn’t do that today.

To get a passport for the first time you need a birth certificate. If you lost your passport you will need a birth certificate. In my state its one of the documents you need to get your Driver’s License renewed (not required but it is one of the items that will make it much easier).

My brother and sisters were born in Jersey City. All JC birth certificates before a certain date were made invalid due to shenanigans involving the selling of documents to illegal aliens. They all had to trudge down to Trenton to get one issued by the state. Luckily my family fled Jersey City before I was born.

I didn’t need one for permanent residency in Japan. Just my passport with current visa, Japanese family registration papers, alien registration card, and JPY7000. :slight_smile:

They’re needed to renew a driver’s license in Georgia if you don’t have a valid passport.