Important Due to Covid-19, processing times for passports are taking longer than normal for both standard and expedited services.

Birth Certificate for Passport Application

Newborn shortly after birth
Newborn shortly after birth by andresr/DepositPhotos

Getting a U.S. passport can seem like a daunting task. It requires collecting a bevy of documents, which among other things, verifies your U.S. citizenship. Being a citizen of the United States is an obvious requirement for obtaining a U.S. passport. If you already have travel plans in the works, understand that obtaining an acceptable birth certificate, the most commonly submitted document as evidence of United States citizenship, can also add time to the process.

You may have copies of your birth certificate somewhere in your personal files, but keep in mind that there are very specific requirements for an acceptable birth certificate. The most important distinction is that your birth certificate is the long form version. The long form version not only shows your name, but the names of your single parent or both parents. The short form only has your name on it. The Department of State will only accept long form birth certificates. Your application will automatically be rejected if you don't adhere to this requirement.

In addition to submitting the long form version of your birth certificate, it also must be a certified copy.

Requirements for Certified Birth Certificate

  • Issued by the City, County, or State of birth
  • Lists bearer's full name, date of birth, and place of birth
  • Lists parent(s) full names
  • Has date filed with registrar's office (must be within one year of birth)
  • Has registrar's signature
  • Has embossed, impressed, or multicolored seal of registrar
  • Photocopies and notarized copies are unacceptable

You can only get a certified copy of your birth certificate from the state or U.S. possession where it was originally filed. In most cases, states centralize vital records, and they can be obtained from a single source no matter where you were born in that state. The time it takes to receive a copy of your birth certificate can vary widely, depending on the agency that is preparing your document, and your chosen method of delivery. If you are pressed for time, it may be best to choose to expedite the process. Most agencies can process an express delivery within three to five days. Not using an expediting service, and choosing standard mail delivery can take up to 60 days for delivery, but this is worst case scenario.

It is important to note that in lieu of a U.S. certified birth certificate, there are only three other documents that are considered primary evidence of citizenship, each with their own separate process. If a child is born outside of the United States to U.S. citizens, an original Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) must be requested from the U.S. embassy in the child's birth country. Submit Form N-600 with a foreign birth certificate and a certified translation, plus parents' birth certificates. An original document is prepared in the United States and sent to the U.S. embassy for you to collect there. This must be done immediately after birth to avoid future complications in establishing the child's U.S. citizenship. If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, submit an official Naturalization Certificate. If your parents became U.S. citizens after your birth, but before you turned 18, submit an official Certificate of Citizenship. All original documents supporting citizenship are returned to you once your passport is processed.

If you already have a birth certificate that meets the requirements, you are ready to apply for a new passport. If you need to get a certified copy of your birth certificate first, you may be pressed for time when it comes to getting your passport. In this case, you can apply at a regional agency or authorize a third party to submit the application on your behalf. There are advantages to using an expediting courier service to obtain your passport expeditiously, the most obvious being that it speeds up the process. Another benefit is that you do not have to personally visit the regional agency thereby freeing you to do other things in preparation for your international trip. You can order online 24 hours a day from home simply and securely.

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