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How to Apply for a Birth Certificate for the Homeless

By Anna Green ; Updated April 18, 2017
Apply for a Birth Certificate for the Homeless

Birth certificates are issued through state and local vital records departments or human service agencies. Although the process for requesting a birth certificate as a homeless person may vary by municipality, generally, they must provide the issuing agency with written documenting verifying the identity of the parents and the circumstances of the child's birth. If the child was born in a hospital, homeless parents should ask to speak with a social worker at the time of the child's birth and begin the process of requesting a birth certificate prior to being discharged from the hospital.

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Obtain proof of the birth. The Department of Vital Records for your city, state or county will request documentation from the hospital where the child was born or the clinic where the mother received prenatal care. The records should list the mother's and father's names, and time and place of birth.

Show identification establishing the parents' identity. The parent requesting the birth certificate must provide identification, such as a birth certificate, state-issued ID card, or Social Security Card. Alternatively, some jurisdictions may accept notarized letters from licensed social service agencies attesting to the parents' identities.

Provide documentation verifying that you are homeless. Most jurisdictions will waive birth certificate fees for homeless people. To receive the fee waiver, the parent applying for the birth certificate may be asked to present a letter from a social service agency or temporary shelter verifying the family's homeless status.

Fill out the form issued by your jurisdiction's vital records department. Homeless individuals should indicate on the form that they are homeless and specify that they wish to pick up the birth certificate in person once it is issued.

Things You Will Need

  • Proof of birth
  • Identification
  • Documentation of homelessness


Homeless individuals receiving case management services through social service agencies may wish to list their social worker's contact information on the birth certificate application in case the vital records agency needs additional information.

In jurisdictions where the state cannot waive birth certificate fees for the homeless, private social service agencies often cover their clients' costs.

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About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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