Birth Certificate

Birth Certificate

Birth certificates are important records of your child's birth that are documented. In the U. S., the term 'birth certificate' refers to either the original document of birth or to a certification thereof. In other countries, a birth certificate means a certificate of the original birth record. All children born in the United States are given a birth certificate when they are born to track their birth and allow for additional documentation and identification as needed. Without a birth certificate many every day functions will prove difficult. It is important not only to have a birth certificate but to keep a certified copy on hand at all times in case it is needed for documentation.


The documentation of birth began as a practice long before Christ's birth in ancient China, Greece, Egypt, Persia and Rome. The actual purpose of the registration then was for taxation purposes and in order to determine the availability of military manpower. Initially Births were registered with the churches where registers of birth were maintained. This practice of birth registers continued till the 19th century. The compulsion to register a birth with governmental agencies and acquire a birth certificate began in the U.K. in 1853.

Today's birth certificate

In the United States, vital statistics is a power that is not assigned to the federal government by the constitution, hence maintaining vital statistics is a state function. The Census Bureau of United States designed the standard birth certificate from 1900 to 1946 and collected all the vital statistics nationally. This was greatly helpful in obtaining accurate and national vital statistics at the time. In 1946, this responsibility shifted to the Public Health Service of U.S. wherein the state files individual documents for all births.

In most of the states, this important document is still termed as 'Certificate of Live Birth' as opposed to the common 'birth certificate'. Though individual states are free to create their own forms, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates a standard form for use by them to document all births. The attendant at time of birth or the hospital administration completes these forms and then forwards them to a local or state registrar. These are stored as records and a birth certificate issued upon request.

The long forms of birth certification are slowly becoming obsolete as states are increasingly opting for the Electronic Birth Registration systems. The use of systems enables all the information seen on the long forms to be viewable in the databases of computers in the form of short certificates. All the birth information is now stored in computer databases only eliminating the need of a long form and hence eliminating the cost of it as well. This is a very beneficial system for parents as they can now get to their area office for Vital Statistics any time and even right after they leave the hospital or nursing home in order to purchase their baby's birth certificate right away. This is highly convenient for the purpose of obtaining a social security card as well so your dependent can be claimed on your taxes.

Why should you register a birth?

A birth certificate is essential for personal identification and personal protection and you are legally bound to register every birth in your family. Following are the ways a birth certificate is necessary for you:

  • To prove birth for

    Parentage and other familial relationships;

    Settlement of inheritance issues and rights to property.

  • To establish your birth date for

    School admissions,

    Admission to Government/ semi government/ private service,

    Army recruitment,

    Right to vote

    Application for insurance policy

    A driving license

    Any procedure which defines a minimum or maximum age criterion

    Claiming the right to marry when you attain marriageable age.

  • In order to prove your birth place for satisfying the criteria for

    The right to vote



    Methods to obtain a birth certificate

In case of birth at a hospital or a nursing home, the institution itself should do the registration. If you had a home birth, then you need to inform within 21 days the vaccinator of the vaccination center of your area and at citizen service bureau or any registration centre. The facility is also available online now.