As you know, the Birth Certificate is one of the three means of proving your identity and US citizenship, the other two being the ID card and the driver's license. The Birth Certificate is perhaps the most important of them because it is a gateway to the adult life, the only document a young person has until he or she reaches the lawful age.
The Birth Certificate is the first thing you need to submit when applying for the identity card or driver's license, and when enrolling in school or signing up for the military. Without it, you will virtually become a stateless person without social benefits and protection. That is why it is of vital importance to keep your Birth Certificate and the Birth Certificates of your children, spouse, and close relatives safe and undamaged. It would be even better if you manage to get the certified copy of these documents from the corresponding state authorities of your native city or town at any time convenient for you (the sooner the better) and most certainly in the first twelve months after the birth of your child.
Unfortunately, the Birth Certificate can get lost, either due to your negligence or because of some other circumstances, like robbery, natural disasters or accidents. In any case, you would have to get a replacement for the lost or stolen Birth Certificate. Obviously, you should inform the authorities about the lost without delay and apply for a renewed document.
So, if you were so unfortunate as to lose your Birth Certificate (or a Birth Certificate of your biological child), you should take the following steps:
Go to the vital records office in the city of town where you were born. If you live in another city, do not apply to the local vital office. You will only waste your time because they will redirect you to the office in your native town. If you have any documents that prove your identity: driver's license, ID card, or even gym card, make sure to take them with you to the office. Remember that at least one of these documents must contain your photo.
If you don't have such documents, you can get one of your parents to compose a letter that distinguishes your identity, notarize it and attach a photocopy of his or her identification card. In some states, the vital records office won't require an official document that proves your identity and accepts a sworn statement instead. However, it is more like an exception to the general rule. In most cases, you will have to find a way to prove your identity. If you want to delegate the right to order the replacement of Birth Certificate to someone else, for instance, your relative, spouse or close friend, he or she would have to get the specific court order that permits the third-party to initiate the replacement procedure.
Given that you have a document that confirms your identity at hand, you can now order a replacement online, by standard mail, by phone or just by visiting the office.
The fastest way to get the replacement would certainly be by going to the office. Usually, all Birth Certificate-related orders are processed within the same business day, so if you go there in the morning, there is a great chance that you will get the replacement in the next few hours. If you go there at the end of the workday, it is highly likely that your order will be processed only the next day. The longest waiting period for acquiring the replacement of Birth Certificate is when ordering by conventional mail. You will have to wait for almost a month for the document to arrive.
Orders placed online or by phone are usually filled within 2 to 3 workdays. The processing fees range from $20 (when visiting the office or placing the mail order) to $32 (online and phone orders). However, these fees and terms are not applicable to all Departments of Vital Information, so we would advise you to check the up-to-date information on the website of the corresponding Department. In case the Department staff fails to locate your records, or you somehow manage to find the original of the Birth Certificate, the money that you have paid in fees will be partially refunded.
If you experience some difficulties with placing your order directly on the Department's website, or the website does not offer such an option, you can go to vitalchek.com and make the order there. It is the national service that helps Americans deal with various issues related to the government-issued documents. The service is reliable and convenient, though you will have to pay an additional fee.
Getting a replacement of Birth Certificate is not that big of a problem, especially if you have other documents that can verify your identity.