A birth certificate is an important, official document that is required to prove identity for a number of reasons. The birth certificate may be needed to register for school, apply for a passport, obtain a marriage license and conduct other official business. In Pennsylvania, as in other states, a birth certificate is automatically issued for all newborn babies, but parents may order additional copies or get a replacement birth certificate as needed.
Getting the Birth Certificate
Most births in Pennsylvania are filed with the Pennsylvania Division of Vital Records electronically. When a baby is born, the hospital transmits the information to the records office, and a birth certificate is created. A certified copy of the birth certificate is automatically sent to the parents free of charge. Parents should receive the birth certificate in the mail within three months of their child's birth. If they do not receive the birth certificate in that time, they are advised to call the Division of Vital Records to report the error and request a new copy.
For Adopted Children
Parents who live in Pennsylvania but adopt a child from another country can obtain a Pennsylvania birth certificate for that child. Parents must contact the Orphan's Court in the city or county where they live in Pennsylvania to register the adoption. The court will file the birth certificate with the Division of Vital Records, and then parents may request a copy. Once the birth certificate has been received by the records office and parents make the request, it can be anywhere from 2 to 25 days to receive it, depending on whether the request was made in person or by mail.
If parents lose their copy of a birth certificate, or if they need an extra copy, they can request one by mail, online or in person. The time it takes to receive the birth certificate depends on the method used to request it. Requests made online or by mail typically take 20 to 25 business days to receive, starting from the date the request is received. Requests that are made in person can take anywhere from three hours to two days to process, depending on which office parents visit.
Making the Request
Only certain people can request a person's birth certificate. These include the parents, legal representative, husband or wife, sibling, son or daughter, grandparent and grandchild. Children can request their own birth certificate when they reach 18 years of age. Those requesting a copy must show a valid ID, fill out an application and pay a processing fee. Step-parents and step-children must show proof of their relationship in order to request a copy of the birth certificate.