How to Get a Birth Certificate for a Newborn

A birth certificate is a common form of identification your child will use throughout his life. The process of getting a birth certificate for your newborn begins at the hospital when you provide information to a nurse or midwife so she can complete the birth certificate application for you. If you do not apply for the certificate in the hospital, you will need to contact your state office of Vital Records to do so. In either case, because many states will not automatically send you a copy of the birth certificate, taking proactive steps to get a certified copy now can save time when you need to produce it for identification purposes later.

Help the nurse or midwife fill out a certificate of live birth for your newborn by supplying required information. This usually includes your baby’s name, your current full name and maiden name, if applicable, residence and mailing address, father’s name, if applicable, and social security numbers for both parents.

Contact your state Vital Records office or county courthouse and ask for a birth certificate order form if the hospital does not give you one. To locate the Vital Records office for your state, call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at 800-232-4636 or visit their website to access a database of links to state offices.

Read through the birth certificate order form to identify supporting documentation and fee requirements. Supporting documentation requirements depend on the state in which you live, but they usually involve personal identification, such as a photocopy of your driver’s license or ID card.

Fill out the order form, attach photocopies of supporting documentation, include appropriate payment for fees and a self-addressed, stamped return envelope if you plan to mail the order form.

Submit the order form in person for faster service, or if you feel you can wait for up to 30 days, mail the application.


Most states allow you to apply for a social security number for your newborn at the time the hospital registers the birth. Taking care of this now can save a trip to the Social Security office later.

State laws require hospitals to file the live birth certificate with the city or town where the birth takes place and with the state department of health within five to 10 days of the birth. It will take approximately 30 days for the city and state to process the certificate and make it public record.

When using a birth certificate for identification purposes, most agencies require legal documentation in the form of a certified copy. When filling out the order form, check the box to request a certified copy, rather than a photocopy of your newborn’s birth certificate.