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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 parent(s).

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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