A birth-certificate is an identifying document that's required if you need to get your child a passport or if you plan to travel over the U.S. border into Mexico or Canada. A birth-certificate might also be required to enroll your child in school and for identifying purposes for various other reasons. If you didn't apply for a birth-certificate right after your baby was born, the process to receive one is fairly simple, though requirements might be different depending on where your child was born.
Born in the U.S.
If your baby was born in the U.S., the process of obtaining a birth-certificate is a fairly simple, straightforward one. The first step is to contact the vital records in the state where your baby was born, according to the official U.S. Government website. The vital records office in the state where your child was born will issue the birth-certificate once you've filled out the appropriate paperwork and provided the necessary information about your child.
American Citizen Born Outside the U.S.
The process to obtain a birth-certificate if your baby was born outside of the U.S., but is still a U.S. citizen is a bit more complicated. You should have registered your child's birth with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where your baby was born, which means you should have a copy of her Consular Report of a Birth Abroad, according to the official U.S. Government website. If you don't have a copy, contact the U.S. Department of State to have another one issued. That piece of paper can then be used to obtain a copy of your child's birth-certificate. If your child was born on a U.S. military base in a foreign country, contact the hospital where you delivered, the U.S. Government recommends.
Born Abroad and Adopted
If you adopted your child from a foreign country, the country where she was born should have issued a valid and legal birth-certificate. If you don't have a copy and need a new one, you'll need to contact the foreign embassy or consulate office in the country where your child was born. If you are a U.S. citizen and adopted a child born in a foreign country, the child will not receive a U.S. birth-certificate. If the birth certificate is in a foreign language, be sure to have it translated, however, so you know it's the correct document.
As of April 2011, the first and last names of both parents were required on any birth-certificate used to prove citizenship for passport applications, according to U.S. Department of State. Without this information, you won't be able to use your child's birth-certificate to obtain a passport for her to travel outside of the country. If you need your child's birth-certificate immediately, ask the vital records office in the state where your child was born if you can use a private delivery service to expedite the arrival of the document.