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Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Office

Birth Records

The U.S. Census Bureau does not issue birth certificates, nor does it keep files or indexes of birth records. These are maintained by the vital statistics offices in the states or areas where the births occurred. Addresses for each state’s vital statistics office may be obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics or check your local telephone directory.

When applying for social security or a driver’s license, the individual who does not have a birth certificate must prove that none exists from the state where he or she was born. Therefore, the individual should obtain a statement to that effect from the vital statistics office and use it in conjunction with other documents (such as a census transcript). However, a census transcript is an acceptable piece of evidence when applying for a delayed birth certificate.

Notification of Birth Registration

The “Notification of Birth Registration” form, issued by the U.S. Census Bureau during the first half of the twentieth century, is not a birth certificate. The U.S. Census Bureau designed this form in 1924, at the request of various state vital statistics offices, to promote the accurate registration of births in the United States. The notification was completed and sent to parents of newborns when the state office of vital records received information on the birth and made up a birth registration record. If parents found errors in the information shown on the form, they were asked to correct them and return the form so the state’s record could be corrected accordingly. The notification was used until the late 1940s and then discontinued once states were keeping satisfactory birth records. The U.S. Census Bureau does not maintain these records. Certified copies of birth records must be obtained from the vital statistics office where the event occurred (contact information for states' vital statistics offices is available from the National Center for Health Statistics).

Civilians abroad

Upon request, the office below will furnish a certification of birth to U.S. citizens born abroad provided the birth was reported to the American consular office in the country where the birth occurred. The U.S. Department of State issues certified copies of the Report of Birth Consular (FS-240). To request copies of the FS-240, write to Passport Services, Correspondence Branch, U.S. Department of State, 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 510, Washington, DC 20522-1705. Send a check or money order for $40.00 per document. The above procedure should also be followed if the birth took place in a U.S. Armed Forces hospital overseas.

U.S. Army facilities

The National Archives has records of births at U.S. Army facilities in the states and territories for 1884-1912, with some records dated as late as 1928. It will search the records if provided with: name of child, names of his/her parents, place of birth, and month and year of birth. Military Service Records in the National Archives of the United States, GIL No. 7, Rev. 1985, has details. The leaflet is available free of charge from Publication Services, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408, telephone 800-234-8861.

If the birth took place in a U.S. Armed Forces hospital stateside after 1912, write to the vital statistics agency in the state.

Certification of birth in an adoptive name.

U.S. citizens born overseas, should apply to the Passport Office, U.S. Department of State, for a Consular Report of Birth in the new adoptive name. To obtain a report in a new name, send a written request, the original Consular Report of Birth, or if not available, a notarized affidavit about its whereabouts. Also, send a certified copy of the court order or final adoption decree which identifies the child and show the change of name with the request. If the name has been changed informally, submit public records and affidavits that show the change of name.

Birth (occurring stateside) certificates in an adoptive name may be requested from the state vital statistics office where it was registered. To register an adoptive child, the adoptive parent must apply to the state where the person was born and submit a copy of the court decree.

Alien children.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Washington, DC 20536 will furnish birth 14 U.S. Census Bureau certificates of alien children adopted by U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted to the United States if the birth information is on file. To obtain the birth data, it is necessary to provide the Immigration Office with proof of adoption or legitimation. A Certification of Birth Data may be obtained from any INS office (the nearest one will be listed in the telephone directory).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Office of Analysis and Executive Support (Policy Office) | 1-301-763-6440 | Last Revised: November 14, 2013