How to Get a Delayed Birth Certificate for Passport Application
Lucy was born in a small Texas town in the 1990s; she was delivered by
a midwife who had been registering children's abstract (short-form)
birth certificates for years with Texas Vital Statistics. Growing up in
Texas, she'd never had a problem presenting her short-form birth
certificate for school, health care, proof of age for her soccer team,
or anything else that came up, but when she was ready to study abroad
and needed a passport, she was told her birth certificate was invalid.
The delivering doctor/midwife was not listed on the short form, nor
were the parents' names. Due to a high incidence of midwife birth
registration fraud, the federal government stopped accepting Texas
abstract birth certificates; she would need to apply for a Delayed
Birth Certificate. This surprise meant moving her study abroad program
to the following year.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in
1990 established the right of every child to have a name, nationality,
and established family relations through a birth certificate registered
by their governments. The Convention holds the delivering
doctor/midwife, hospital administrator, or parents responsible for
seeing that the birth certificate is properly registered with the
correct government agency immediately, which in the U.S. is the Office of Vital Records
in the state of birth. In the United States, birth certificates must be registered with Vital Records within one year.
Registered birth certificates establish identity and citizenship.
Beyond making it possible for children to prove their age and
nationality, registered birth certificates also allow children to go to
school, be adopted, and receive health care. As adults, they are able
to get a driver's license, get married, open a bank account, vote, get
a passport, and so much more. Yet over one-third of the world's
children lack properly registered birth certificates for many different
reasons. Each country addresses the problem differently. In the United
States, U.S. citizens are offered the opportunity to apply for a
Delayed Birth Certificate.
What is a Delayed Birth Certificate?
A Delayed Birth Certificate is any birth certificate that was
not properly filed with a state's Vital Records within one year of
the date of birth. It may be acceptable as primary evidence of U.S.
citizenship only if it lists the Early Public Records used to create
it, and if it is signed by the doctor/midwife who delivered the child
or lists an affidavit signed by the parents. If a Delayed U.S. Birth
Certificate does not meet these two requirements, it is not considered primary evidence of U.S. citizenship
What Information Is on a Delayed Birth Certificate?
Even though your registered birth certificate establishes your U.S.
citizenship, it is issued by the state in which you were born. The
federal government assigned responsibility for overseeing vital
statistics to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics who
developed forms that they recommend states use, however each state may
design their own forms. Consequently, the appearance of birth
certificates and the information they contain varies state by state. In
essence, at a minimum they should have the person's full name, date of
birth, place of birth, and since April, 2011 the full names of the
How Can a U.S. Citizen Obtain a Delayed Birth Certificate?
You can file for a Delayed Birth Certificate with your state's Office
of Vital Records that meets the new criteria with Early Public
Records. Some examples of Early Public Records include the hospital
issued memento birth certificate that usually has the baby's footprints
and parents' names on it, a short-form or other invalid birth
certificate, post-natal medical records with the child and parents'
names listed, school records listing both the child's and parents'
names, either state or federal Census records, baptismal records
showing the child's and parents' names as well as the church's seal, or
a certified adoption decree, among others. You will need a combination
of these documents along with either a signed statement from the
attending doctor/midwife or an affidavit signed by your U.S. citizen
parent(s) to obtain a Delayed Birth Certificate.
Can a Delayed Birth Certificate Serve as Evidence of Citizenship for Obtaining a Passport?
Your Delayed Birth Certificate can be used as primary evidence of citizenship in obtaining a new passport
if it lists the Early Public Records that were used to create it, and
if it is signed by the doctor or person who delivered you, or lists an
affidavit signed by your parents. If your Delayed U.S. Birth
Certificate doesn't meet those two requirements, it will not be
considered valid legal evidence of citizenship on its own. You can
still submit it along with the Early Public Records you collected.
These records should include your name, date of birth, place of birth,
and be from before age five, if possible.
Have you gone through the process of obtaining a Delayed Birth
Certificate in the U.S.? What is your best advice for others trying to
navigate the process?
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