Procedures for Filling Out a Birth Certificate

By Leyla Norman
Birth certificates are filed at the state level and reported at he federal level.
Birth certificates are filed at the state level and reported at he federal level.

Every state must carefully document and report all births to the National Vital Statistics System, which is a cooperation between states and the National Center for Health Statistics. When you have a baby, the institution where you give birth or the institution that is responsible for the birth if you have your baby elsewhere, is obligated to fill out and submit the birth certificate. In some situations, you may also fill out the certificate as a parent.

Basic Information

Within 72 hours of birth, the doctor or person attending the delivery provides medical information required to fill out the birth certificate, such as gender, time of birth, length and weight. The certificate also has a place for the attending individual or doctor to certify that the birth was live. Parents decide on the child’s name and spelling. The rest of the information necessary for the certificate to be complete like parental information is then gathered and submitted to the Office of Vital Statistics, according to the state model standards published by the NCHS.


Parents’ names, dates and places of birth, occupations and other demographic data are recorded on the birth certificate. The NCHS has published a detailed set of guidelines for determining who the father of new babies are in circumstances in which the mother is not married or in which the husband is not the father. For example, if a mother is not married at the time of conception, pregnancy or birth, the father’s name is not entered on the certificate unless he signs an affidavit with the mother's signature stating that he is the child’s father. To ensure that the child receives social and legal benefits, such as inheritance benefits and to know paternal medical history for a baby, some mothers and potential fathers may decide to conduct a paternity test to determine who the father is.

Birth Outside a Hospital

Some births do not occur in a hospital whether by chance or by plan. When this occurs, the NCHS has provided guidelines to help determine who may certify the birth. The order of preference of who may provide information for a birth certificate are doctors present at the time of birth, anyone else who was present at the birth, the father or mother or the person in charge of the facility at the time of birth. If you still need to fill out the birth certificate as a parent, contact your county clerk’s office for information on how to do so. The clerk may require you to present evidence of the facts of the birth.

Birth in a Vehicle

If a child was born in a moving vehicle, the place of birth is noted on the certificate, and the birth is registered in the state where the birth occurred. In foreign or international waters or airspace, the child’s birth is registered in the state in which he is first taken out of the vehicle that was transporting him at the time of birth.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.