A birth certificate is a vital document that everyone must have. The birth certificate is an individualized document, unique to each person. When a child is born, they receive a birth certificate. The birth certificate is an official document that states where and when the child was born, the gender and name. Depending on the country where the birth certificate was issues, the name and address of the mother and sometimes the name and occupation of the father may also be included.
Birth certificates were originally developed as a way to keep track of the census. Initially, births were kept track of by churches, then later on by government bodies for tax purposes. In modern day, it is required that the parents, hospital or midwife register each newborn child for a birth certificate. Not possessing a birth certificate can make one's future extremely difficult. Your birth certificate shows your age and nationality, thus entitling you to your citizenship.
If a child is adopted, a new birth certificate is made listing the new adoptive parents' names. In general, the original certificate is held on file, however, in some situations, the new adoptive parents can request that the child not be able to access their original certificate.
For American citizens born abroad, a special born abroad certificate of birth can be applied for. This entitles the newborn to their American citizenship, even though they may have been born outside of the country. This can occur, for example, when one of the parents of the child is an American citizen and the child was born in another country. To apply for a board abroad certificate, the parent generally also needs to show proof of their citizenship. With certain countries, it is possible to maintain a dual citizenship. This means that the child can have citizenship for the country where they were born, and also receive American citizenship through a parent. Even if the child is receiving a born abroad certificate, they must still also receive a normal birth certificate for the country in which they were born.
There are many instances throughout your life where you may need to show a copy or even the original of your birth certificate. For example, in order to receive a US passport, you must show proof of your birth certificate. Often, to enroll a child in school, a birth certificate is required.
If you lose or misplace your birth certificate, it is important that you have it replaced immediately. If you need a replacement copy of your birth certificate, you will need to obtain it from that state where it was issued. Each individual state has different laws regarding birth certificates; therefore you cannot receive a replacement birth certificate in a different state from where it was originally issued. In some states, the birth certificate replacement application can only be made in person.
Like other vital documents, it is generally a wise idea to have a photocopy in a separate storage area from your original birth certificate. For example, if you are traveling and lose your important documents, including your birth certificate, it can be useful to have a photocopy available.