Babies don't come home from the hospital with birth certificates. The hospital typically gives you a certificate that serves as proof of a live birth, which enables you to add the baby to your health insurance or finalize other legal processes until you get the official birth certificate. To get a real birth certificate, you must order one for a fee. You need a legal birth certificate for many reasons, including getting a passport, certain baptisms, applying for public assistance and entering school.
Ordering at the Hospital
Many hospitals make it easy to order a birth certificate. They provide you with the legal form right after your baby is born. You just need to complete the form and include payment. Some hospitals help you pull together the information you need for the form and send it in for you with your payment.
How to Order
Select the state or territory in which your newborn was born. This shows you the cost of a birth certificate, the contact information for the department responsible for vital records in this state, and the link to the state-specific website with more information. You may be able to order the birth certificate online from the state-specific website or print the form to request the birth certificate by mail. You can also walk in to the department office to order one.
Be prepared with the right information when you apply. Expect to provide your full name and contact details, mother's maiden name, that you are ordering a birth certificate for your newborn, that you are the parent, the full name of your newborn, where your baby was born and a copy of your government-issued identification such as a driver's license.
You may want to order more than one copy. Most of the cost of the birth certificate covers searching for the record and only applies to the first copy. Duplicate copies typically cost less than the first one when ordered at the same time.
Ordering from Home
Legal documents might be the last thing on your mind as you bond with your newborn, but don't worry. You can order a birth certificate for your newborn later from your state's department of vital records. It takes a little time for the birth to be recorded; putting it off a few weeks doesn't delay your receipt of the certificate significantly.