What Do You Do if You Lose Your Birth Certificate?

Updated on January 5, 2024

At a Glance

  • If your birth certificate is lost, you can request a new one depending on where you were born.
  • U.S. citizens can apply for a replacement certificate by providing necessary identification documents and information about their birth and parents.
  • If born in the U.S., visit a vital records office in the state of birth.
  • If born abroad to American parents, obtain a Consular Report of Birth Record from the U.S. Department of State.

A birth certificate is an important vital record used throughout life at various places. It proves your age and identity and helps in enrolling yourself in school or seeking government benefits. Losing such an important document is catastrophic, indeed. In such a scenario, you need to take quick action. This article discusses in depth what you can do when you lose your birth certificate.

Can You Get a New Birth Certificate If Yours Is Lost?

A birth certificate is an important document that also acts as proof of citizenship. Without this, it’ll be tough to participate in certain events. The U.S. government understands that this certificate can be lost, stolen, or damaged under various circumstances. Therefore, you can apply for replacement copies. The application process depends on where you were born.

Who Can Request a New Birth Certificate?

Any U.S. citizen who was issued a birth certificate at some point in time can request a new birth certificate. This also includes those who were born outside of the U.S. territories to American parents.

Requirements to Get a New Birth Certificate

First, you need to research what you will need to get a new birth certificate. This ranges from locating the nearest vital records office to reading online forums where people discuss these topics. It will give you a general idea of what to expect.

As far as the documents are concerned, you will be asked to produce other ID documents like a state-issued driver’s license, Social Security card, green card, passport, etc. Any photo ID document should be sufficient to prove your identity.

Next, you’ll need to provide your parents’ names, including your mother’s maiden name. Additional information like the date, month, and year of your birth, and the town and hospital you were born in, will be beneficial to add.

For further clarification, you should either type or print every detail on the request letter you’d send to DOS.

Getting a New Birth Certificate

To initiate the process, you need to retrieve the information mentioned in the previous section. Then, you can request the replacement certificate from the place where you were born.

If Born In The United States

If you were born in the U.S., you can simply walk into a vital records office of the state where you were born. So if you were born in California and currently living in Wyoming, you need to travel to California with the required documents.

Get in touch with an official and follow the instructions. They will ask you to write a letter and may ask you to do some paperwork. Provide the necessary fees, and the replacement birth copies will be mailed to the address you specified.

If Born Abroad to American Parents

If you were born abroad to American parents, there are a few more steps to the process. When you were born, your parents will have registered your birth details at the local U.S. embassy or consulate. They’d have received a Consular Report of Birth Record or CRBA. You need to get this report from the U.S. Department of State.

Make a notarized request, which should include your full name, DOB, place of birth, any available passport information, parents’ full names, mailing address, and signature. You must also submit a valid photo ID.

As part of the service, you will incur a fee of $50, which can be paid by money order or check. Make this payable to the U.S. Department of State. Once done, request your CRBA by mailing everything to:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Vital Records Section
44132 Mercure Cir.
PO Box 1213
Sterling, VA 20166-1213

You should expect to hear back from them in four to eight weeks.

If Born Abroad and Adopted by American Parents

If you were born abroad as a foreigner and then adopted by American parents, you will not be able to receive birth records from the DHS. They will be issued by the respective agency of your birth country. To get a copy of the lost birth certificate, you should get in touch with the consulate or embassy of that country in the U.S. The application process will vary from country to country, and you might be asked to travel there for verification.

Adoption and naturalization papers will be beneficial in the process. So make sure you have them before getting in touch with the embassy.

Order Vital Records Online

Many authorized agencies provide official government-issued vital records documents online. With just a few clicks, you can order official copies or replacement copies of birth records. These services are often convenient, fast, trustworthy, and secure. They’ll charge more, but the convenience is worth it. This online service can only be utilized if you’re a U.S. citizen born in the United States and therefore do not have to contact any foreign agencies. They may request additional information to prove your identity.

Birth Certificate to Be Used Outside the U.S.

To use the new birth certificate abroad, you must request an Apostille on your consular document. These are specialized certificates you need to satisfy foreign document requirements. To get the Apostille, you need to submit a notarized request along with a valid ID card. Send it to the U.S. Department of State address mentioned above.

Similarly, you can request Apostille for other consular documents like Consular Report of Death Abroad, Certificate of Witness to Marriage, and Panama Canal Zone Birth and Death certificates.

What If Your Birth Certificate Is Stolen?

If you suspect your birth certificate was stolen, you need to take some extra measures. If the certificate falls into the wrong hands, it can be manipulated or misused. Even worse, the certificate can be used to obtain your Social Security number and other sensitive details. This could lead to identity theft.

So your first responsibility is to inform the vital records office that issued the certificate about the theft. Then you can request a replacement by following the procedure above.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.