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  • Birth Certificates – What, Why, How

    Posted on April 6th, 2019 admin No comments

    The What, Why, How of Birth Certificates


    A birth certificate is an official government document that records the details of a person’s birth. Minimum information will be the name, date and place of birth, and parents of the individual.

    Why issue birth certificates?

    From at least the time of ancient Egypt, the state has wanted to keep track of its citizens through birth and census records, largely for tax purposes. In modern times, birth records help determine future needs for education, health, and other social programs.


    Why get a birth certificate?

    A birth certificate constitutes proof of identity; the mere possession of the birth certificate is a first step towards obtaining other documents such as a passport or drivers license.

    Whether you want a birth certificate for obtaining other documents such as a passport or for documenting a family history, you need to apply to the government in the place of birth. Most governments maintain a specific office for dealing with the “vital statistics” of birth, marriage, and death, though some jurisdictions may privatize the local permit offices.


    How to get a birth certificate?

    Regardless of the specific mechanism or bureaucracy, the process generally involves

    • filling in a form specifying certain details of the birth (which might include date and place of birth, names of parents),
    • swearing or testifying to the accuracy of the information and the right of the applicant to obtain the information, and
    • paying a fee for the service.

    This process may be done online for some states or provinces; in others it might be necessary to physically visit the appropriate government office.  Some places may have the records digitized and be able to provide a print copy immediately; other locales may require a wait of up to several days or weeks.

    While parents were probably issued an original  certificate at the time of birth of the child, any certificate obtained by the methods above will be a duplicate or extract, an official copy that has the legal force of the original.


    Can I get Uncle Joe’s birth certificate?

    If you are doing genealogy or family history, there may be limits as to what (or whose) birth certificate you can obtain.  It is probable that in most countries, historical records of over a certain age — 30 years, for example — are coPnsidered public documents, because the individuals involved are deceased  (there is still some debate as to what “rights” a deceased person may have).  In other cases, you might need to prove a relationship to the person whose records you are seeking in order to obtain the information.


    Birth certificates are useful to have, whether for proving identity, obtaining other documents, or pursuing family history.

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