Help Needed---Certified Replacement Copy of USA Birth Cert. (CA) Sent Internationally?

Hi there, I am new here, but am desperate for anyone who might have some solid information.

I was born & raised in the USA, but have been living abroad in Krakow, Poland for the past 3 years.

Long story short, at 46 years old, I have met the most incredible person I have ever known, we have spent the past (nearly) 2 years together and a few months back I asked her to marry me, and she made me the happiest man in the world when she enthusiastically repiled, “Tak!” (Yes!)

Neither one of us have ever been married before (Anna is 44) nor do either of us have any children.

We went to the US Consulate office here and the guy we spoke with gave us a pre-printed form with what an American needs to do to marry a Polish national in Poland, which includes providing my birth certificate to the Polish courts.

My B.C. is back in the USA in my safe-deposit box, but I had my sister go and get it and send it over to me, and it just arrived, but much to my alarm it was clearly just a photocopy, not the original, which will not be accepted by the polish authorities.

To complicate matters, I was adopted at birth, and my Father & Mother have passed away, so I can’t ask them about the location of the original copy, which I have never seen to the best of my memory. (My parents were very old fashioned and kept all official things like that in THEIR safe-deposit box, even when I was an adult. I never needed it except perhaps to apply for my 1st passport, and then I gave it back to her to hold)

I was adopted in CA. but born & raised in another state, never having lived in California.

Our wedding is scheduled for March 30th, we thought we had plenty of time, but apparently the Polish court system is known for being slow, so I need a certified replacement copy ASAP, hopefully without flying back to the US if possible.

(The guy we spoke to in the consulate office was nice enough, but judging by his accent and his native fluencey in Polish he was not raised in the USA, and it was clear that he wasn’t really sure exactly was required of me, but my fiancee was able to spek with someone else who works in the Polish Family Court system and they told her that the copy of my birth cert. needed to be notarized/certified/officialized and a Xerox copy would not cut it)

Anyone here have any ideas?

I am NOT a “computer person” to put it mildly, so my attempts at Googling have been confusing and contradictory.

Thank you to all for any help!!!

Even your photocopy BC should list the Hospital and possible County of birth. Try contacting the Hospital, or County Clerk (email or telephone) for that County for advice.

The Hospital will likely NOT have a copy of your BC, but may have info/direction on where to look (likely, County Clerk’s Office).

What happened to the things in your parents safe deposit box? There’s a source. Every state has a department of birth registry. Can’t be that hard to get a phone number. A small fee and they will send you a copy. I think all you’ll ever get is a copy. Notarized copies should be acceptable.
ETA I just googled California dept. Of Vital Records. You can get a certified copy from on line. Easy peasy.

Why doesn’t your passport suffice?

[quote=“ExTank, post:2, topic:825162”]

Even your photocopy BC should list the Hospital and possible County of birth. Try contacting the Hospital, or County Clerk (email or telephone) for that County for advice.

The Hospital will likely NOT have a copy of your BC, but may have info/direction on where to look (likely, County Clerk’s Office).[/QUOTE

Good advice. Contact the county office of records. The same place you go to physically pick up a copy of your BC

The county will refer you to the state, I’ll bet.

California Dept. of Vital Records, $28.00.

This. See Request a Copy of a Vital Record Online, perhaps you can simply order it online. I’m not sure if they’ll mail it internationally, you might need to go through an intermediary (your sister?).

And to clarify, your birth certificate is issued in California? Even though you were born elsewhere? Is that the standard in the case of adoption? I’m not skeptical of that, just curious. :slight_smile:

We adopted both of our sons from overseas. After we confirmed their adoptions here in Texas, they both were issued Texas birth certificates with their correct birth cities indicated and with us listed as the parents.

In my hurry to write my OP, I misspoke.

I was born in Los Angeles, adopted at 3 days old by my parents who lived in Utah, which is where I was raised.

My birth certificate was issued in CA, though neither I nor my parents ever lived there.

I am honestly not positive what state the adoption was legally executed in, (I never thought to ask Mom & Dad) though I don’t think that makes any difference for my purposes here in Krakow.

Apparently what threw me off is that the State of California contracts with a private, 3rd party, for-profit company called VitalChek to issue “official” certified duplicate birth certificates, the state does NOT provide this service itself, at least if you do not go in person to the Vital Records office in L.A. (I think that this is a poor way for a state government to operate, but that is neither here nor there at this late date)

They claim that these are authorized, notarized copies that will be accepted internationally like an official, state-issued copy, but I am worried about how certain that is, as time is a big factor, and if they don’t take it, I won’t have time for a Plan C.

I guess I just have to hope for the best.

Thanks for all of your help and please keep your fingers crossed for me, (although Poles actually don’t do that here, instead they put their thumbs inside of their clentched fists, which apparently means the same thing.)

When my wife and I adopted from Russia 15 years ago, we had to provide official birth certificates. We contacted the states where our birth certificates were on file and got official copies. Then we had to get a document called an apostille to go with it. We got one from the state that issued the birth certificate. It basically said that yes, this is an official document from the state. Then we had to get a second apostille from the U.S. state department that said yes, the first apostille was from the correct agency in the indicated state. I have no idea if you will need apostilles or not, but you might want to ask about them because if you do need them, they will add time and cost to your schedule.

Lots of states use VitalChek - they don’t actually issue the certified copies, the government agency does that. Vital chek apparently processes the orders. How long it takes probably depends on the jurisdiction, but for NYC they apparently send the order to the government agency by the next business day and you can receive your certificate as quickly as a week.

If you are concerned about VitalChek, don’t be. They are a legitimate operation that seems to have contracts with states and counties across the country. I have personally ordered birth and death certificates through them in three states. The certificates are identical to the ones you would get if you went in person to the state office. There is nothing on them that says VitalChek. Even the return address on the envelope had the official state office, not VitalChek. They have the official state stamp on them.

Of course the original copy of the certificate stays in the state/county office. All that anybody gets is a certified copy. In fact many of the “certified copies” are no longer photocopies of the original, but newly printed computer-copies to which the official state stamp is affixed.

The man I talked to at the US Consulate here in Krakow told us we needed an apostille, though he didn’t seem too sure about how I needed to go about getting one. He spoke English with a heavy Polish accent, and so when my fiancee talked with him in Polish (which is of course her native language) he seemed much more comfortable and fluid in telling her what the Polish government needed of US citizens getting married in Poland.

Trouble is, he was 100% wrong. My Anna told me she felt he didn’t seem positive about the info he gave her, so we went to the Krakow family court building, where she spoke to a clerk who told her that in fact US Citizens do NOT need an apostille for an official birth certificate, as least as far as marriages go.

I am not thrilled that the person that the US government employs to advise American citizens in these matters was providing incorrect information that if we would have acted upon would have cost considerable $$$ and wasted valuable time for nothing.

Yeah, their web site makes you think that unless you pay for special express delivery, you’ll have to wait for weeks. But in each case, my orders were mailed in one or two days by First Class Mail.

I really appreciate this.

I just got the “Birth Certificate” that I had in my safe-deposit box in Utah in the mail today from my sister ($65 for a 7 day “Express Mailer”) and when I saw that it was obviously just a Xerox copy (although with “Matt’s Birth Certificate” written in pencil in my beloved Mom’s handwriting on the back ;)) my heart sank like a stone.

Well, I guess finding the person I have been looking for my entire life, halfway around the world from where I was raised (at the ripe old age of 46, no less) was a miracle in and of itself, so I supppose this too shall pass.

Thanks again for the reassurance!

Twoje zdrowie!!!

They pretty much issue you a new original. It will be fine. Good luck.

I’m glad it wasn’t a surprise to you and you won’t need one. Also, it looks like you and your fiancee are already off to a strong start working as a team. Congratulations and good luck.

Seconded. I have used VitalChek to help clients get all kinds of birth certificates from various states. They are just the intermediary between you and the state/county in question. The state/county will issue a certified copy of the original document.

If you need anything else related to the adoption, that’s another ball of wax and you will probably want to talk to a family lawyer in CA if you or your sister can’t track down the necessary docs.

If you do end up needing an apostille, you would get that from the State of California. In Illinois, when I had to do it for my own personal reasons, the relevant office that does apostilles is the Secretary of State.

Good luck.

Eva Luna, **Immigration Paralegal

ETA: the relevant California state authority for apostilles is also the Secretary of State’s office, but hopefully you won’t need one.

I picked up one at the Monterey county office of records.