How to Fill Out a Birth Certificate

Updated on April 9, 2024

At a Glance

  • A birth certificate is a government-issued document recording a child’s birth for legal and identification purposes.
  • It is necessary for activities such as joining the military, enrolling in school, applying for government benefits, or obtaining a passport.
  • To fill out a birth certificate, obtain the form, complete it with the child’s information, provide parents’ details, choose a name, decide on a Social Security card, and return the form to the appropriate authority.

Once a baby is born, the hearts of the parents are filled with joy – they just welcomed a new member into their lives, after all. However, after experiencing these feelings, you must start thinking about applying for a birth certificate for the newborn. In some cases, you even need to start looking into how to get a birth certificate translation if you intend to move to a new country with the baby.

In order to apply, you must know how to fill out a birth certificate. This post will tell you everything you need to do.

What Is a Birth Certificate?

Birth certificates are documents that the government issues to record a child’s birth. This is done for tax, military, census, and vital statistics purposes. Since it has to be applied for after a child’s birth, it is one of the first legal documents that one may get.

Although many think that this document is not that important, the U.S. government says it is the most significant document someone will require to prove their legal age and identity. Birth certificates are necessary when you want to join the military, enroll in school, claim an insurance benefit or pension or apply for government benefits or a passport.

That being said, a birth certificate is a must for your baby’s future.

How to Fill Out a Birth Certificate

After giving birth to a baby, the last thing you want to do is fill out some documents. Sadly, in the U.S., everything requires paperwork, including your newborn. The baby’s birth certificate will be one of the most important documents you have to take care of.

But since it may be your first time filling one, you may not know how to do it properly. It’s essential to do it correctly. Here are the steps you will have to go through to fill out a birth certificate.

Step 1 – Obtain a Birth Certificate Filing Form

Get a filing form for a birth certificate. Usually, you will be given the form by a health care provider if your child was born in the hospital. But if you had a home birth instead, the form will be handed to you by the midwife.

However, you must contact the state department of vital records if the two options do not apply to you, and ask for the form. You can also call the local courthouse and then ask for their help.

Step 2 – Complete the Form

Use ink to complete the form. Fill in all the blank spaces in the document with the information requested.

Step 3 – Choose Your Newborn’s Name

Pick the name of your child. This is the mother’s legal responsibility. It is important to know that you do not have to choose a name identical to that of the father or the mother, and you can also change the name of the baby during the first six months.

So, if you are not sure about the name now, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to change it later.

Step 4 – Complete the Parents’ Information

Next, add the information about the parents. You must add the current name of the mother and her maiden name. Then, you will be asked to provide the address and Social Security Number of the mother.

After the section dedicated to the mother, you can add the information about the father. But the mother has the right to not name the father – so, if you don’t wish to name him, you will not be forced to.

Step 5 – Decide If Your Child Will Have a Social Security Card

You can now decide if you want a Social Security card issued for your newborn. You can easily check a box at the bottom if you want this, as a number will be assigned automatically. Afterward, you simply have to wait to receive the card at the address written on the birth certificate.

Many parents go with this option because it is easier to get a Social Security card this way than fill out a different form in the future.

Step 6 – Fill In the Demographic Information

Add the demographic information. The government may inquire as to your marital status, level of education, and ethnic background depending on the state you live in.

Step 7 – Return the Completed Form

Once you’re done completing the form, return it to your health care provider. You can also file it with the county clerk of the town you gave birth in.

Certificate of Life vs. Birth Certificate

Many people are confused regarding the difference between the birth certificate and the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth.

The latter looks like an application at the moment, and it asks for details such as the place of birth, date and time of birth, full name, as well as information about the child’s parents.

But unlike the birth certificate, this document is merely an unofficial draft that proves that a mother gave birth to a baby. After all the details about the child are offered, the Certificate of Life is sent to the Office of Vital Records or a state register.

The official birth certificate will be created afterward. The good news is that the parents are usually helped with the form by the hospital, and the staff may even send the paperwork to the right entities themselves.

When Will the Physical Birth Certificate Arrive?

Each county is different when it comes to how long it takes for the physical birth certificate to arrive. Most of the time, it takes from one or two weeks to up to one month. Sometimes, you will get information regarding the waiting time from the vital records office.

Also, if you want, you can call the local office to ask when the baby’s physical birth certificate will arrive.

What you get in the mail is difficult to tell because it depends on the area you live in. Usually, there is a standard birth certificate form that the whole U.S. has to fill in, but there is no standard birth certificate document.

About 14,000 different birth certificates are now circulating in the States according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

How to Make Changes to a Birth Certificate

After a while, some parents might want to make changes to a baby’s birth certificate.

You are allowed to make changes to the certificate, but you should know that there are different protocols for these changes with each vital records office. If there is any mistake on the birth certificate, you can simply call the state vital records office and ask for them to correct it.

Some may want to change the gender and name of the baby, which can be a bit challenging. Laws differ from one state to another. You can make name changes and various corrections, but changing the gender is not possible in all states. Everything changes over time, though. So, the best thing to do is call the vital records office and ask them what changes you can make.

Read More

Final Thoughts

You must know how to fill out a birth certificate for your baby, but also how to make possible changes if necessary. After getting the document, you must take good care of it and the child should do the same when he/she gets older to avoid a lost birth certificate situation.

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 100,000 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn more about finance, immigration, and more!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

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.

Get the Checklist