Date of Birth
In most countries, a birth certificate is a vital record usually containing most of the following information:
- Name at birth
- Date and time of birth
- Place of birth
- Birth registration number (NHS number in UK)
- Legal parent(s) (in some countries including parents' occupations, places of birth, and maiden name of the mother)
The certificate is issued shortly after a person's birth, usually after the mother's physician files the required forms with the appropriate government agency. To obtain a birth certificate for a newborn is normally compulsory.
The official birth certificate is usually stored at a government record office, and certified copies of the original are issued when requested. In Canada and the United States of America, it is stored with the government of the receiver's state or province. In some American states, the responsibility for such records has been delegated to counties or towns. In England & Wales, it is stored at the local register office (usually covering an area of about 100,000 people) and also at the General Register Office. As with other UK records, the definitive copy is handwritten in highly-permanent ink, even though the rough-draft and official copies may be type-written.
A person can obtain a copy of their own certificate, and in many places, a member of the general public can obtain a copy of anyone else's birth certificate upon paying a small fee.
The birth certificate can be used to authenticate one's identity and nationality, and assist with obtaining government-issued identity documents such as a passport or driver's license. In the UK, birth certificates are not always accepted as proof of the identity of the bearer - only that a birth took place with those details. The certificate is signed or stamped by the registrar to authenticate the document as a faithful copy of the entry in the main register.
Holding a birth certificate makes it easier to prove citizenship in nations where citizenship depends upon location of birth. For family historians, the detail of the parents (including mother's maiden name) included on a full certificate is very useful in linking between generations. In some countries with advanced population registration systems, the birth certificates are only issued for foreign use: all authorities have direct electronic access to central population database which includes all personal details of all present and former citizens and residents.
Types of certification
Most registrar offices have at least 2 versions of birth certificates available.
Long forms, or certified photocopies (or book copies), are exact photocopies of the original birth record that was prepared by the hospital or attending physician at the time of the child's birth. The long form usually includes parents' information (address of residence, race, birth place, date of birth, etc.), additional information on the child's birthplace, and information on the doctors that assisted in the birth of the child. The long form also usually includes the signature of the doctor involved and at least one of the parents.
In the UK the full birth certificate is issued on request for a small fee, but otherwise the 'short' certificate, which omits parents' details, is normally issued.
In the U.S., the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics creates standard forms that are recommended for long form birth certificate use. However, states are free to create their own forms. These "forms" are completed by the attendant at birth or a hospital administrator, and is then forwarded to a local or state registrar, who stores the record and issues certified copies when requested.
Short forms, known sometimes as computer certifications, are not universally available, but are cheaper than photocopies and can be used in substitute of a long form in almost all cases. The short form has limited information, such as the name of the child, sex, date of birth, birthplace, and usually the parents' names. Usually, upon receipt of the child's official birth record, the government agency in charge of dealing with such records will enter the most important details of the birth into a registry or computer database, where information can be quickly or instantly obtained and printed onto a short form birth certificate. These are particularly useful when a birth certificate is needed on extremely short notice.
In addition, many registration authorities also have wallet-sized short form birth certifications available, and appostile/exemplified certifications which are hand signed by the registrar and are to be used when being presented before the government of a foreign country.