Category Page: Birth Certificate Templates
When did you last think about your birth certificate? Do you even know where yours is? And did you know that birth certificate template styles have a rather interesting history?
Birth certificates are the often-ignored, but most essential form of identification in this country and many others. You can’t even obtain any other form of identification without it.
In fact, it’s so important that you will likely never see your original birth certificate. When you receive a certified birth certificate from the state, you just get a copy of the original. But it’s officially the same. The original birth certificate issued by the state gets locked away to prevent identity theft.
But it hasn’t always been this way. The history of governments keeping official records like births, deaths, and marriages is actually pretty short.
History of Birth Certificates and Record-Keeping
Birth certificates in the United States are not federally-regulated as in other countries. In places like the UK, there’s a federal register that keeps track of all births. However, in the US, our federal government is not in charge of this kind of record-keeping.
Instead, each individual state is responsible for maintaining records of births. Because of this, there isn’t a standard birth certificate template that states must follow.
Parents fill out a standardized form that they submit to the federal government. The states then use the data from that form to issue their own birth certificate to parents.
This is partly due to the way that birth certificates developed and changed over the years.
Pre-Industrial and Industrial times
If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t know the exact date of a famous historical figure’s birth, it’s because record-keeping in that time was pretty haphazard. Governments weren’t particularly concerned with documenting every live birth in their country at that time. So there are no official governmental records from this time.
The job of keeping records of births, marriages, and deaths usually fell to the local church or to individual families. So, often, these types of records have been lost. Other times, the information from one source contradicts the information from another.
The United Kingdom started collecting birth records of all its citizens in the mid-1800s. The United States followed suit in the early 1900s.
By 1915, the federal government was aggregating the information collected by the states through the US Census. However, even at that point, people used birth certificates for data rather than proof of citizenship.
It wasn’t until World War II that birth certificates became necessary proof that an individual was a citizen of this country. During this time, employers started asking for birth certificates before they would hire a new employee.
Naturally, this caused much frustration for people who were not used to being asked for a birth certificate. At that point, keeping one’s birth certificate was not necessarily a given. In fact, this new policy led to almost one-third of the US working population to file applications requesting copies of their birth certificates.
By the 1950s, parents had realized the importance of keeping their child’s birth records. Since the certificates had become the primary proof of citizenship, American mothers became invested in protecting them. Birth certificates guaranteed their children the rights of an American citizen.
How to replace yours if you need
But accidents happen. If you need to replace your birth certificate, or your child’s, you can easily obtain a state-certified copy.
This won’t be the federally standard one that you filled out when your child was born. After that form is submitted to the US government, the state itself issues its own state-certified version. This is what you’ll receive.
Typically these state-issued birth certificates are printed on nicer, more official, thicker paper than the application you filled out. They also will show the official seal of the state, county, city, or municipality in which your child was born.
You can request a certified copy of your birth certificate from your state’s Vital Records office or online.
Because the U.S. doesn’t standardize birth certificates, different information will be included in the birth certificate template of each state.
Of course, every state must have new parents fill out the federal application for a birth certificate, and the information on that form is standard. However, what the state issues to new parents will be its own birth certificate template.
In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, there are currently over 14,000 official versions of birth certificate templates in use around the country. Each state does include certain basic information, though. Each birth certificate must have the full name of the child and parents, as well as the location of the birth, the date, and sometimes the time.
Official certificate of live birth
The US Standard Certificate of Live Birth is a two-page long document that parents fill out in the hospital after giving birth. The hospital provides this form, and nurses will usually help new parents fill out this application. If the birth does not take place in a hospital, then a midwife will have the forms for you.
This document asks 58 questions about the infant, the parents, and the location of the birth. Some of this information, such as race and ethnicity, is simply for census needs.
Other information is for data-collecting and medical research. This includes questions about medical conditions and nicotine use.
Most hospitals will also give souvenir birth certificates to new parents. This is not the official birth certificate, and cannot be used as proof of citizenship or age.
These certificates, as keepsakes, are usually much more aesthetically pleasing than the official certificate. Often they contain the baby’s footprint and handprint. It might also contain information that appears on the official birth certificate, but it is not legally the same since it doesn’t have the state seal embossed on it.
Birth Certificate Templates
All that being said, let’s talk about birth certificate templates. You’ll need the official version from your state for anything legal, such as applying for a job or a passport.
Even with that, there are sometimes two versions of an official birth certificate. There’s the long form, which is the more official one that is filed with the state. Then there is also sometimes a short form or an “abstract.”
Both will suffice for most purposes; however, there are some instances in which the short form is not acceptable. For example, if you’re in the process of adopting, you’re going to need the long form version.
U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth
The U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth is the official application form that is filled out after birth. The attendant at the birth will provide it to the parents, whether that’s the hospital staff or a midwife in your home. This is the record of your child’s birth that is kept by the government. Your state-issued birth certificate will come a few weeks afterward.
Long form birth certificate template
Your state will send you the long form version of your birth certificate a few weeks after you send the application. The format of the application is standard, but your long birth certificate template will depend on where you live since each state has different information includes.
The certificate of live birth is the application form that the parents fill out and send to the Vital Records office of the state. The birth certificate is what you receive back.
Short form birth certificate template
Some states also have a short form birth certificate. The short form is basically just a summary of the information on the long form, but it is less detailed.
Souvenir birth certificate templates
The souvenir birth certificate is what you receive from the hospital. It will have the name of the hospital usually, along with the name of the doctor sometimes. Many times, the baby’s handprint and footprint will also be on it.
If you have a home birth or if you give birth anywhere outside of a hospital, you always have the option to make your own. Here are some examples of keepsake birth certificate templates:
Importance of Birth Certificates
We often don’t give a lot of thought to them, but birth certificates play a really important role in our lives. They’re the first official, legal documents we receive, and they are necessary forms of identification in many situations.
If you were born in a state that uses short form birth certificates, bear in mind that you’ll probably need to obtain a certified copy of the long form at some point. The short form birth certificate is not acceptable proof of identification or citizenship if you’re applying for a passport, a driver’s license, a replacement social security card, or a marriage license.
Now that you know how important your birth certificate is, you’ll probably want to store it in a safe place, like a safe or a security deposit box – and not in that cardboard box of old photographs under your bed.
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